You won’t often find a vocalist releasing a piano solo CD…unless you’re multi-talented Gerald Wolfe – singer, songwriter, pianist, producer and arranger.  In 2011, Gerald released his third piano solo project – Hymns You Asked For.  After an online survey, Wolfe took the top 21 requested hymns into the studio and composed eight beautiful arrangements.  The hymns you will hear on this CD are some of the great compositions of the church, like; Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, and What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  Yet, blending in with these are hymns you won’t normally find on an instrumental project, such as, Fairest Lord Jesus, Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary, Jesus Paid It All and others.  Throughout this review, we will go over the style and theme of the project, the track list, read a note from Gerald that is found on the inside cover of the CD and watch him play one of these arrangements.

Gerald Wolfe

Style:  Musically, Gerald classifies this project as “funeral music” – I’ve heard him joke about  that from on stage many times since this CD’s release.  At the same time, the styling of these hymns resemble a genre of music called “Muzak.”  (A form of music you’ll hear while on hold over the phone, when you walk into a store (the music played in Hobby Lobby is a good example), elevators, restaurants…funeral homes, etc!  It does not contain lyrics and is meant to be relaxing.  That’s exactly how he arranged these hymns.  They are soothing, quiet (slight dynamics) and peaceful.  The recording is nothing but piano – there’s no background music.

Theme:  On the other hand, each of these arrangements overflow with spiritual implication.  All eight tracks carry a theme of their own and build on “the lyrics we don’t hear” from the previous song.  For example; the theme of track one is acknowledging how great God is, from there we move on to track two – where the theme is Jesus – not only a great God, but One we call our friend, our Redeemer.  Track three continues the saga by sharing how that came to be with the subject of the cross…as a result of the cross, we see grace emerge as the theme in track four.  The fifth arrangement reminds us what mankind’s response should be to such knowledge as this…total praise – “Come thou fount of every blessing tune my heart to sing Thy grace, teach me Lord some rapturous measure, meet for blood bought hosts above!  While I sing the countless treasure of my God’s unchanging love, streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise…fairest Lord Jesus!  Ruler of all nature!  O Thou of God and man the Son!  Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul’s glory, joy and crown!”  (You can’t hear those two hymns woven together like that and not be moved in your spirit!)  From praise, we enter into the blessed knowledge that when we are hurting like a fallen sparrow, Jesus cares and is faithful to meet our needs, and through Him, our burdens are lifted.  With our load lightened, we can sing along with “It is well with my soul” in track seven, and know that He will take care of us.  Finally, the last track calls the sinner to come to the Lord just as they are, and to trust and obey His holy Word.

Track List:  
1. The Love of God
How Great Thou Art
2. What A Friend
Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know
Jesus Paid It All
3. When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
The Old Rugged Cross
4. Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Amazing Grace
5. Come Thou Fount
Fairest Lord Jesus
6. His Eye Is On the Sparrow
Does Jesus Care
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary
7. It Is Well
Whispering Hope
In The Garden
God Will Take Care Of You
8. Just As I Am
Trust and Obey

A word from the artist:

“Ever since my last instrumental recording, people have been giving me suggestions for the next one.  This recording is the result of all those suggestions.  As a matter of fact, we conducted an Online Survey to give everyone an opportunity to be a part of the process of choosing the songs.  Of the hundreds of song suggestions we received, these are the twenty-one most requested.  As you listen, I hope the music causes you to think about the lyrics of these great songs.  You might even want to sing along!  I hope you enjoy listening to these great classics, as much as I enjoyed playing them.”  Be blessed!  ~ Gerald Wolfe

Conclusion:  To sum up, this has been my favorite instrumental recording to listen to over the last year.  It isn’t just quality music – the artistry includes both depth and emotion.  Just looking at the pairings of these hymns made me realize this CD wasn’t recorded just for the sake of fulfilling requests – they were meant to deliver a message through the way they were arranged.  Track six is a wonderful example, with classics like His Eye is on the Sparrow, Does Jesus Care, Great is Thy Faithfulness and Burdens are Lifted at Calvary as one – the impact these words will have on every one who sings along is priceless.  It’s a special CD that had a lot of thought put into it.  On the other hand, it isn’t just good for funeral homes!  LOL  I happen to listen to this CD when I’m reading a book, need something to unwind with before going to sleep, or when I just need to kick back and rest the headaches of life.  There are a few tracks that stretch into the 7 minute range, but I think that sets apart the CD and makes it unique.  So, if you’re like me and need to relax once in a while or need some help slowing down – try going HERE!

Here is a video I found on You Tube of Gerald playing Great Is Thy Faithfulness from this CD.  Enjoy!

Author: lynnschronicles

Leave a Reply