Stan Whitmire – “Unfailing Love”
Stan Whitmire is a musician. The kind of musician in which his music takes precedence over the fact that he is also in the spotlight. The artist type. I think we would do well not to merely think of him as an entertainer. He doesn’t tell jokes. He chooses to sit at his piano during solo concerts, and when he speaks, he tries to be very clear…but settles into the reality that the clearest form of speaking from his soul, comes from his music.
When I sit down to calm my mind and heart in preparing for sermons, lessons, and devotions, I like to put in music where there is no vocalist. So my mind does not get distracted. So my heart enters into a peaceful mode of worship and study. Life soon becomes a spiritual journey of biblical truth and God foundational of seeking and pursuing after Him. Piano, guitar, light jazz all resonate within me in my joy and satisfaction in God and the sacrifice of His Son, where grace and love abound, and His creativity beckons my worship. It’s not multi-tasking…it’s focusing.
This project is the 3rd in a series of works, released in subsequent years by Green Hill music, in what was originally the conceptual brainchild of Bill Gaither. The first in the series, “Shelter In The Storm” was a 20 song collection of hymns and gospel songs. The 2nd, “Joy Comes In The Morning” was a 20 song collection of Bill & Gloria Gaither’s works (and also won a GMA Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year). And this 3rd, is a collection of 20 songs, of Praise and Worship, completing the Trilogy. Now, Whitmire seems to be inspired by many different styles of music, but as he is, remains deeply connected in the tradition of southern gospel, and many of these selections would not exactly be of the modern P&W stereotype. In fact, 13 out of the 20 songs were written or performed before 1990 by southern gospel artists or those with the influence. But this is simply a worshipful, piano instrumental. Whitmire’s musical classification would be disconnected to the core of who he is if it were labeled. He’s a Christian artist. And a very good one.
A few you would be acutely familiar with are “He Is Here”, written by Kirk Talley, and beginning to find its way into hymn books, like “Celebration Hymnal”; “Through It All”, written by Andrae Crouch and performed by a host of southern gospel artists; Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend’s “In Christ Alone”, recently singled by Lauren Talley; “Center Of My Joy”, written by the Gaithers; “Surely The Presence Of The Lord Is In This Place”, written by Lanny Wolfe and has been a timeless staple of the church in the modern era; “Draw Me Close” goes back further when the P&W style was beginning to spread, yet this remains a heartfelt cry and simple chorus to the Lord in dependence upon Him, and nothing else; “The Healer”, made popular by Hillsong and Kari Jobe is exquisitely arranged, and sounds quite marvelous stripped down, on a Yamaha C-7 FD 11 Grand. But saying there’s something for everyone is more of an understatement. It’s just one piece of music really, following the pattern of the other two sets of the trilogy. Essentially, a 20 song medley of continuous play. And it all just fits.
One of my highlights of the entire piece happens to be the liner notes. For a man that does not sing (regularly) nor talk much, within the CD cover is one of the most gripping, comforting, personal and beautiful notes I have ever read, as Mr. Whitmire has been very clear with us of his intention with his music. If you were going to download via iTunes, spend 3 or 4 more dollars and buy the CD. It’s worth it.
As the subtitle will show “20 worship songs of comfort and peace”, how that resonated with me this past week. On all of “trilogy” series covers, there is always a body of water, rough or calm, but in the picture there is always another object, symbolizing hope. The day I got it, I was preparing for hurricane Irene. I popped it in, grabbed my flashlight, and stayed clear of the windows. Echoes of comfort and peace, still ringing… Hallelujah, what a refuge is He.
Songs include: Holy Ground, Surely The Presence Of The Lord Is In This Place, He Is Here, Draw Me Close, Made Me Glad, The Healer, More Than Enough, Only Believe, When I Don’t Know What To Do, Lord, I Run To You, Still, You Are My Hiding Place, Center Of My Joy, Through It All, Got Any Rivers, Unfailing Love, In Christ Alone, Press On, Total Praise.
To purchase, click the link.