What did your church sang this Lord’s Day? Did it lift both your soul to worship and your voice to praise the goodness of Christ? Does it prepare your spirit for the weekly servings of God’s Word through the sermon? Does it convey words that you can’t express on how to be thankful for God’s providence? Does it bring you to tears knowing the truth of God through the lyrics of the song? I hope and pray that it’s a blessing to you as you sang either a contemporary worship song or hymns.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) has this group called Norton Hall Band that plays a fresh take on hymns. They have a new album, Still Our Refuge which is the third album they released this year. I reach out with Evan Sams, guitarist of Norton Halls Band to talk about hymns, their band and their new album.
For those who are not familiar with hymns, can you define what a hymn is?
Great question! The definition of a hymn can be somewhat subjective. Some view it simply as a “congregational song” and others prefer more detailed definition such as “a lyric poem reverently conceived, designed to be sung, capable of spiritual formation, theological pedagogy, mutual edification, and Christological exaltation.”
For Norton Hall, when we use the world hymn, we are mostly referring to beloved, historical songs of the Christian church.
How does it differ with some contemporary worship songs we hear in churches?
Hymns can often provide a breath of scriptural topics, and a depth of theology that isn’t always found in contemporary worship. However, congregations need all different types of songs. With a spirit like that of the Reformation, contemporary worship puts scriptural truth into the vernacular of the people.
But older songs are also important, as they connect Christians to the historical church, and counterbalance certain contemporary cultural values. We would encourage congregations to consider singing both hymns and contemporary songs, as each has something helpful to offer the church.
Tell us about Norton Hall Band and why did you pick hymns to sing?
We arrange these hymns in order to help keep them in circulation across the Church. Many of the hymns we record have fallen out of use in modern churches. So we offer these new arrangements to churches with modern worship ensembles so that can play them in their context.
I know you guys have a favorite hymn. Can you tell our readers what’s your favorites?
Ok I made a list:
Evan Sams (Electric Guitar) – Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Mandy Pennington (Piano / Vocals) – Be Still My Soul
Dan (Bass) – All Glory Be To Christ
Evan Jarms (Drums) – O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Jordan Spillers (Acoustic Guitar / Vocals) – Rock of Ages
Please tell us the process of producing your latest Still Our Refuge.
We arranged, recorded, and filmed 3 albums in 8 months due to a very generous donor who financed the project. That being said, the process was pretty rushed, but we got better at it as we went. Still Our Refuge was the last of those three albums, and its definitely the one we’re most proud of.
You seem very productive this year that you have released 3 albums. So how did you do all three albums considering we are in a pandemic?
Due to the pandemic, we were not playing live at all. So, we focused all our time and energy into arranging and recording. Needly to say, we stayed very busy.
Which among the three albums your released this year is the most fun to produce?
Still Our Refuge was definitely the most fun. Its style feels most authentic for the band. We really enjoy playing all those songs.
Thank you guys. Kindly invite our readers to check you out and where can they listen to your music.
Any message to you fans from the Philippines who enjoy your music?
Hello fans form the Philippines. We hope these hymns bless you and your churches, and grow your love for the Savior!
Thanks Evan and Norton Hall Band!
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