Album Rank for Group: #1 of 13
Here’s a blurb: Could it be any other? The suspense has been killing you, right? I doubt it’s any sort of surprise to you that Symphony of Praise is my favorite album of all time. I’ve said so on numerous occasions in various places online. It’s one of the first full southern gospel albums I ever obtained, and ever since that day, it’s been my favorite. And nothing has really ever come close.
First, the performers: Symphony of Praise features my all-time favorite bass singer, my favorite baritone, my favorite tenor, and my top two lead singers of all time. All five are not only my favorite singers, but are also on my list of “southern gospel heroes” for their Christian examples.
Second, the songs: This is no ordinary southern gospel album. Produced and arranged by the legend Lari Goss, with accompaniment by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, it’s just a majestic listening experience. Five of the songs are a cappella (I love a cappella singing), with breathtaking vocal arrangements. The other five are the orchestrated ones, and each one features a different singer. Each one is utilized to their greatest strength, and each one delivers a flawless performance.
Finally, the impact: Symphony of Praise was a major part of the transformation of southern gospel from four singers and a piano, or even a full live band, to four singers backed by a big track. One can debate whether or not that is a good thing overall, but it’s hard to argue that there isn’t some great value in the types of big ballads that have impacted gospel music fans in the last 25 years. It’s also hard to argue that it didn’t really all begin with Symphony of Praise. For the Cathedrals, the album placed them at the top of the southern gospel music field to stay until their retirement. For Gerald Wolfe, “Champion of Love” put him on the map and launched a Hall of Fame career. And lastly, for me, the songs have been a blessing more times than I can count.
Knock my socks off: God Himself the Lamb, For What Earthly Reason, Champion of Love, Room at the Cross, Scars and Stripes, Revive Us Again, The Heavenly Parade
Don’t skip that one: This Ole House, Won’t It Be Wonderful There
I could honestly do without: Dig a Little Deeper in God’s Love
Wait, there’s more!: A full retro review