Album Review: Country's 20 Classic Gospel Songs of the Century

A Review of the Must-Have Country Gospel Compilation

New Haven

In recent years, country music has become such a crossover genre that people have forgotten that country and gospel once overlapped, almost to the point where "Christian Country" seems like an oxymoron. But country and gospel go hand-in-hand. When combined, they've produced some of the genre's most iconic songs. Songs like "Wings of a Dove" and "Coat of Many Colors" were chart-topping hits, both of which appear on this remarkable album that features songs spanning decades.

Review

The songs featured on Country's 20 Classic Gospel Songs of the Century were carefully chosen to represent the best of country gospel from artists who have often shown their deep-seated faith with their music, whether it was traditional gospel or not. Many of the songs in this collection charted on the country charts; Elvis Presley's "Crying In the Chapel" reached Number 3 on the pop charts. No matter your faith, there is no denying that the music on this album is beautiful.

From the 1935 recording of The Carter Family's original "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," to Hank Williams' toe-tapping, heartfelt "I Saw the Light," to Vince Gill's heartbreaking tribute to his brother, "Go Rest High On That Mountain," the beauty and raw emotion in these tunes comes through.

Listening to a very young Ralph Stanley sing "Angel Band" is a treat for those who are only familiar with the elderly gentleman of "O Brother" fame, and Red Foley's bluesy rendition of "Peace In the Valley" is so definitive the same arrangement was later used by Elvis Presley in his gospel recordings.

Speaking of Elvis, I realize "Crying in the Chapel" was chosen because it was his highest-charting gospel song, but in my opinion his most powerful gospel recording is "How Great Thou Art." That's certainly not to say that Connie Smith's rendition on this album is a lesser work. In fact, she delivers the classic hymn with great passion.

Final Thoughts

From Johnny Cash to Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson to The Statler Brothers, Country's 20 Classic Gospel Songs of the Century is a treat for all lovers of country gospel music. The eclectic blend of artists, from The Carter Family to Alison Krauss, offers something for everyone. The only downside is that the album features only one track per artist, but the fact that it contains songs spanning seven decades and features some of the best known names in country makes this album worth purchasing.

Track List

  1. I Know Who Holds Tomorrow - Alison Krauss & The Cox Family
  2. Go Rest High On That Mountain - Vince Gill
  3. Farther Along - Linda Ronstadt
  4. Children Go (Where I Send Thee) - Ricky Skaggs
  5. Precious Memories - Tammy Wynette
  6. Uncloudy Day - Willie Nelson
  7. Amazing Grace - The Statler Brothers
  8. Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton
  9. Precious Lord, Take My Hand/Jesus Hold My Hand (Medley) - Merle Haggard
  10. How Great Thou Art - Connie Smith
  11. Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) - Johnny Cash
  12. Crying In the Chapel - Elvis Presley
  13. Wings of a Dove - Ferlin Husky
  14. Life's Railway to Heaven - Patsy Cline
  15. In the Garden - Jim Reeves
  16. The Old Rugged Cross - Tennessee Ernie Ford
  17. Peace In the Valley - Red Foley
  18. Angel Band - Stanley Brothers
  1. Can the Circle Be Unbroken - The Carter Family
  2. I Saw the Light - Hank Williams

Purchase Country's 20 Classic Gospel Songs of the Century on Amazon