Ascend The Hill – Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus

By Brian Higgins on October-1-2010 | Filed under Reviews | Share

Ascend The Hill – Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
4.2 (50 votes)

A review of Ascend The Hill’s new worship project titled Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus.

Band: Ascend The Hill
Title: Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
Label: Come&Live
Release Date: 9/14/2010
Reviewer: Brian Higgins

Tracklist

1. The Love of God
2. How Great Thou Art
3. Rock of Ages
4. Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
5. I Surrender All
6. Hallelujah! What A Savior
7. None Compare (Spontaneous Worship)
8. Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go
9. Be Thou My Vision

As both a musician and a worshiper of God, I typically find myself in a place of want.  The songs pumped out by a Chris Tomlin or a Paul Baloche are able to stir my spirit but seem to bypass my mind.  On the other hand, when I look purely at the musical end of things, I find myself untouched spiritually and in a place where the music overshadows the God the music was made to worship.

As Ascend The Hill set out on making their album “Take The World, But Give Me Jesus,” they took the spiritually moving and intellectually gripping hymns and added a remarkable level of musicianship.  In taking on a challenge like this, there is a very tight rope one must walk.  On the one hand, the band must be creative and unique.  There is no point in releasing an album that’s already been made, but on the other hand, the hymns they set out to play are so iconic that homage must be paid to them.  Ascend The Hill has found a way to strike that balance.

Songs like the title track, “Take The World, But Give Me Jesus”, simply allow lyrics like “Oh the height and depth of mercy, oh the length and breadth of love, oh the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above” to speak for themselves by keeping the music low key so the focus remains the way the hymn writers intended.  Tons of creative liberties have been taken, however, they are all tastefully done.  By arranging “How Great Thou Art” in a rather unorthodox way, the verses inspire the mind so that the final chorus becomes an overflow of passion.  Leonard Cohen’s melody from “Hallelujah” makes its way into “Hallelujah, What a Savior”.  Few lyrical changes are made, but a beautiful chorus is added to the end of “Be Thou My Vision” simply saying, “Oh God be my everything, be my delight, be Jesus my glory, my soul satisfied”.

The tangible elements of the album make it good, but it’s the intangibles that make it great.  From beginning to end, it is clear you are listening to a band worship God with their talents, and not worship their talents through the guise of God.  My first listen to it was in my car during my morning commute, and it transformed that morning into pure worship of God.  From the opening drum line of “The Love of God” to the haunting closing chorus of “Be Thou My Vision”, the album simply grabs you and refuses to let go (not that you ever want it to).

Overall: This is an album that engages you from the first note, keeps you until the last one, and yet allows you to focus on the meaning of the songs, the worship of God.  If you are looking for an album that will inspire awestruck worship of God with music that will intrigue you as much as the lyrics, Ascend The Hill’s “Take The World, But Give Me Jesus” is one you simply cannot pass up.

Download the album for free off of the Come&Live! website.

Ascend The Hill - Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus, 4.2 out of 5 based on 50 ratings

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33 Responses to 'Ascend The Hill – Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus'

  1. Steve says:

    couldn’t get past the 2nd song. just not my thing

    • Joshua says:

      I only got through 2 songs the first time myself – but give the last song a chance. It’s hard to go wrong with “Be Thou My Vision” and I think it’s the best one on here..

  2. taras91 says:

    1. The Love of God
    2. How Great Thou Art
    4. Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
    5. I Surrender All

    Loved those songs even that I barely even listen to Woship.

  3. Steve says:

    forgot to mention. nice review

  4. Cara says:

    Great review! My faves were tracks 2, 4, & 8.

  5. Travis says:

    Amazing record couldn’t have been more thrilled with the outcome. I was excited for this record to come ever since i heard they were making it and it did not disappoint.

  6. schlottermann says:

    Well I feel like I’ve been negative around here lately. But I guess I can’t help what I don’t like. I listened to this once and I haven’t gone back to it since. I think their first album far surpasses this one. I’m glad they’re getting so much positive feedback, but I’m just not feeling it.

  7. Tim says:

    Probably don’t enjoy this as much as their debut but it’s still one of the best albums this year. Incredible on many levels.

  8. _pole says:

    I absolutely love this album! Nice review Brian, exactly what I feel.

  9. BC says:

    This is definitely a great album that oozes worship. Their Spontaneous Worship track is really sweet too, and you can tell that it was inspired by the Spirit. Worth the download a thousand times over!

  10. Chase says:

    Amazing album! I really respect that they try to change their sound and style. Definitely different than their debut, but still just as good. One of my all time favorite worship albums.

  11. this is the first thing i listen to every morning to prepare my heart for the day! i LOVE it!

  12. Chris says:

    I’ll be honest, I absolutely understand why people don’t like it. It’s the earnest, pain-stricken vocals. I like the vocals but it gets close to Hands/Thursday territory where it’s too emotional. The rest of the music is beautiful and atmospheric and the songs are straight classics.

  13. _pole says:

    @schlottermann: Huh, I actually like the drumming quite a bit! Especially the stuff in “I surrender all”. What do yuo find frustrating about it?

    • schlottermann says:

      You know a lot of it is hard to explain. I don’t like the constant quick ‘da da da da da’. It’s hard to put drum sounds into words. It just gets annoying and frustrates me. I guess it’s an ‘indie’ style of drumming? I’m not sure if that’s correct. And I’m a drummer myself, so I do have some insight. You learn to pick out really good drumming and also the not as good drumming. And I’m not saying this guy isn’t a good drummer, I’m just saying it’s hard to listen to (like when a new drummer constantly plays a crash like a ride. It’s just not supposed to be that way.). Maybe if the drums weren’t so overpowering on the album…

    • bobbythebuff says:

      Yeah I would I agree that the drums do stand out more so than usual on this c.d. but thankfully this hasn’t prevented me from enjoying the release.

    • schlottermann says:

      Tell you what, I’m going to give another listen. Maybe I just really need it to grow on me.

  14. _pole says:

    I think I get what you mean. Some of the fills are so off beat they seem just random. I like it that way though. For the most part it helps the song and is not too distracting.

  15. Chase says:

    I get what you mean with the drums. They do tend to stand out more than usual. It does take some getting used to. But once you get used to it, it’s such a great album!

  16. !!! says:

    it’s a complex rhythm in 6/8. get over it. this is an incredible and anointed album.

    • schlottermann says:

      I know what it is, I play 6/8 all the time. Complexity doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to get over. If something bothers me, it bothers me. I think some of the drumming is distracting, especially in I Surrender All. I’ve listened to it again, and things haven’t changed. While this album has good moments, I think their debut is much better.

  17. I totally dig the drums on this album! As well as this album as a whole! Absolutely awesome work! Tasteful fills and grooves. Such a breath of fresh air from your typical “worship” music. Love it!

  18. josh says:

    this is by far the best hymn album i’ve ever heard. great drum work, great vocals, tasteful guitars and keys. the title track is probably one of my favorite songs right now… the music style isn’t really my thing (i’m more into late ’80s/early ’90s grunge/stoner rock) but somehow i just love this album.

  19. Gaige says:

    I cannot believe anyone would dislike the drums on this album, granted I have only heard like three songs. They are so tasteful to the musicians ear. I LOVE the “Be Thou My Vision” verse groove. Astounding ghost notes and overall tone. Props for the drumming.

  20. Leifgreen says:

    I’ve not listened to much of this album, but I have already come also to agree (with schlottermann) that the drums are what get me on this album. The reason being I am not used to such beats as heard on “How Great Thou Art” and “The Love of God.” Albeit, this is also one of my first Indie albums, so such a drumming style may not be too rare in the genre. However, that is not to say the album is no good. On the other hand, I have enjoyed several of its tracks, noting how different is the musical sound. Definitely this album will have to grow on me; but, as usual, it is likely to become a beloved favorite of mine.

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