Comments about ‘New Harmony: New spin on Mormon hymns from the heart’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 28 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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J-TX
Allen, TX

Nice article. THanks for doing your homework and making your references meaningful. The only thing missing is a link to a sample track. Because I'm fairly sure most of your Happy Valley readers are lost by your description.... :-)

MPS
Kirtland, NM

I tried the music. Sorry--It doesn't work for me. I just can't do blue grass or whatever this was.

Candor
Holladay, UT

Not bad. But also check out The Lower Lights for really innovative arrangements of LDS and general Christian hymns and music. Smart and fun.

Gadfly
Smyrna, TN

As a lifelong Tennessee Latter-day Saintvwith a Baptist family heritage I rather enjoy the distinction that we LDS have from our brothers and sisters of other faiths. I am tired of seeing and hearing my brothers and sisters in the Church try to sound like them. Nothing against other religions here but I don't understand why we try to be something we are not. Here in Tennessee we try to look and sound like LDS. We do not need to dilute our heritage by trying to be something we are not. We are not Protestants and don't need to sund like Protestants, even if we live in the predominantly Protestant South.

Nevertheless, in fairness I would like to hear the album and judge it independently of my personal feelings mentioned above. Sounding like it comes from the South is not a selling point for me though and I will not likely buy it.

Gracie
Boise, ID

" it's not just an attempt to do something novel. / It is not about the singers, it is about the songs. The music comes from the heart."

For several years I've read your essays with interest, especially since one of your chief mentors, Elder A. Maxwell, was one of my own from afar. I cringed at a prior critique of music in the Church, backed up by Elder Maxwell's implied behind-the-scenes approval. My take on this is focused through the multifaceted prism of many years of music training and heavy dues paid in order to practice not only the art but the skills. Music you love you designate as coming from the heart and what you don't care for is less than that. If fully engaged in their craft, musicians learn to find "heart" (Holy Spirit) in inspired music from every culture, every use of voice and/or instrument(s), whether large or small in means of execution. I've witnessed the heart-numbing dumbing down of musical offerings in local Church meetings here and elsewhere to persistent banality, becoming not heart but merely sloppy. Wrenching a tear from triviality stands in place for anything transforming. Nothing greater need apply.

Will Moone
AUSTIN, TX

@Gadfly, I knew the singer from my stake here in Austin and can tell you a couple of things you might not know. Aside from the singer, none of the other dozen or so musicians on the record are Mormons. In fact, some of them play for the Dixie Chicks and are very well known in Texas. This is an Austin record. I'm not sure what the 'Mormon-heritage' music you refer to sounds like, but I've heard plenty of Mormon music (faux-classical, cheesy mormon-pop). If this is diluting it, turn it up!

Ellenjac
BOSTON, MA

This record has GRIT.. Thanks for introducing it to me. I like this better than the Lower Lights, who play it very safe and clean. I had downloaded the LL's songs but I certainly wouldn't call it innovative as some of the arrangements are taken from other records.

StayPositive72
Taylorsville, UT

As one who really has a distaste for many of the cheesy renditions of Mormon hymns, The Sabre Rattlers approach is genuine and unique. Mark Abernathy, the frontman, is an incredible musical talent (of which this album only gives you a very small taste). He was trained at Berklee School of Music in Boston, plays with an extremely talented (non-LDS)group of studio musicians in Austin, TX, and has the album produced by respected people in the business. The album places traditional religious hymns in a new context of early frontier history giving them a rightful place in traditional Americana music. The style is not for everyone--more Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or Gilian Welch fans will like than Mormon Tabernacle Choir---but if you appreciate the roots of American music, this album is a great listen.

redsands38
Saint George, UT

@Gracie in Boise. . . I had a chance to hear Mark Abernathy on his tour here in Utah a few months ago. I knew him growing up in Hong Kong--and stayed in touch with him when he went to school in Boston. There's nothing here that one should find offensive in any way. Read his story about Jesus Savior, Pilot Me. He still remembers him parents singing it in church when he was just a young boy. It came to him when he was a young father.and inspired him in life's struggles He heard these hymns growing up and he has internalized the message of each one. This musician is spiritually sensitive--and these hymns bear out a certain purity of soul.

JustaNormalCitizen
KEARNEYSVILLE, WV

"... it's not just an attempt to do something novel. It is not about the singers, it is about the songs. The music on the CD comes from the heart.
And when music feels real and deeply felt, it's hard to resist." I agree. This music is heartfelt. Go listen to the music. I am one who instinctively resists doing "something novel" with tradition, particularly my tradition. My ancestors helped make the desert blossom like a rose. I have listened to a previous generation raise their nasally voices to the heavens. I love and honor them. I am less moved by the passionless, unenthusiastic, two-beat slow, generic, half-hearted renditions we frequently hear in our church meetings. I do not expect to hear the Saber Rattlers in Sacrament meeting, but I will raise my voice to the heavens along with Mark Abernathy in the privacy of my home.

BlueSouth
MC KINNEY, TX

This CD is the only one I keep in my truck... I absolutely love it. @ Gadfly, this is no attempt to mimic any of what our evangelical brethren have done with the hymns. It is an original work of art that will be cherished by anyone who loves and appreciates true musical talent. Mark's version of "Come, Come Ye Saints" brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it. Truly uplifting and inspiring, thanks Sabre Rattlers!

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