Quiet Time Playlist: The Joy of Harmony

It’s no secret that vocal harmonies are breathtaking music to one’s ears. Whether it’s a worship song delivered in simple three-part harmonies or a full-blown gospel choir offering us a glimpse of what heaven may actually sound like, clearly, harmonies give us insight into the heart of God.

This week, we present five songs with a variety of worship themes that have one thing in common: spine-tingling harmonies that may take you straight to heaven and back.

“How He Loves” by New Breed

Gospel vocal group New Breed may best be known for its association with legendary Grammy Award-winning producer and singer Israel Houghton, but the men and women of New Breed are immensely talented in their own right.

“How He Loves,” a cover of the John Mark McMillan original best known for its cover by David Crowder Band, who took the song to number 3 on Billboard’s Christian Songs chart, undergoes an even more phenomenal transformation in the hands of New Breed. The brilliant vocal skill of the song’s lead vocalist Daniel Johnson takes “How He Loves” to soaring new heights.

“My Jesus I Love Thee” by Selah

Contemporary Christian vocal trio Selah is a Dove Award-winning group composed of Todd Smith, Allan Hall, and Amy Perry. Known for their exquisite three-part harmonies, Selah is known for its covers of Secret Garden’s “You Raise Me Up” and Marcus Hummon’s “Bless the Broken Road.”

In 2009, Selah released “You Deliver Me,” which featured the trio’s exquisite emotion-packed rendition of the William Ralph Featherston/Adoniram Gordon 1876 hymn “My Jesus I Love Thee.” More than just the piano, “My Jesus I Love Thee” offers unbelievably sweet harmonies and a bridge featuring Amy that will take your breath away.

“Praise His Name” by Ashmont Hill

As a harmony lover, I strongly encourage you to listen to Ashmont Hill, a Boston-based Contemporary Christian vocal group with considerable talent, composed of April Joy Mtyora, Phil Thompson, Deborah Bullock and her husband Wil Bullock.

Best known for the Soft AC/Inspo hit “Song of Glory,” Ashmont Hill has released two albums thus far, its self-titled debut and Your Masterpiece, which features the group’s trademark four-part harmonies. Most of their songs come fully packed with the kind of harmonies that can drop one’s jaw, and I must recommend several tracks, including “Song of Glory,” “I Give You Worship,” the Matt Redman-penned “Gifted Response,” and “Praise His Name,” a track written by the group’s resident producer and songwriter Phil Thompson, which I’ve featured here.

“Unrestrained” by Myron Butler and Levi

Myron Butler is a Grammy Award-winning record producer, singer, songwriter, and musical arranger who has earned accolades for his work with some of American gospel’s greatest names, including Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Smoke Norful, and Donald Lawrence.

His vocal group Levi was birthed from the gospel choir God’s Property, best known for its work on the Kirk Franklin single “Stomp”; Levi has won four Stellar Awards and been nominated for a Grammy Award as well.

The song “Unrestrained” is lifted from its sophomore release Stronger and is an absolute joy to listen to; another incredible version of this Calvin Nowell/Tony Sutherland original has been performed by Grammy Award-nominated singer Mandisa.

“Total Praise” by Avalon

Contemporary Christian vocal group Avalon may have undergone many lineup changes throughout the years, but its solid harmonies continue to be the heart and soul of this Dove Award-winning quartet.

Now composed of husband-wife teams Jeremi and Amy Richardson and Greg and Janna Long, Avalon continues to fly the flag of gorgeous four-part harmonies over Christian Soft AC/Inspo. Its 2006 album Faith: A Hymns Collection contained “Total Praise,” a reverent hymn of praise to a God whose majesty can only cause us to react in one way: total unadulterated praise.

The last 30-something seconds of the song, featuring the group’s four voices singing “Amen!” in breathtaking a capella, guarantee goosebumps.

 

Ganns Deen is a child of God, husband to Caths, and father to Nathan and Nicki. He is passionate about Christian music and tapping the power of the Internet to glorify God and spread the gospel. An award-winning songwriter in his own right, Ganns serves God full time in his capacity as online content supervisor for Victory Philippines. Follow him on Twitter (@ganns) or on his Christian music-themed blog, www.gannsdeen.com.

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