On page 116 of The Magician’s Nephew, a fantasy novel written by the great C.S. Lewis, we read of winsome moment when Aslan, the kingly lion of Narnia, sings a carol by which all of Narnia was created:
“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it.”
This is where we find the idea behind the name of a modern band with an ancient song list, Page CXVI. In September 2009, they released their first album appropriately titled, “Hymns.” It included the ancient, but long-lived and true, hymns re-imagined with modern-day instruments and arrangements. Of this I am always hesitant, since I cherish these old hymns so much.
Many attempts to recreate these hymns today have fallen short. They more than often sound too immanent and domesticated and less transcendent and sacred. But Page CXVI managed to keep those qualities that make these hymns as powerful as they are.
The song list captured some of our most favored hymns like In Christ Alone, Nothing But the Blood, Solid Rock and a few others (see full list here). Although I’ve found no official reports published online about the sales of this album, my gut feeling is that it did quite well. Many Christians today, who relish the Scriptures and find the deepest comfort in Biblical doctrine, realize the richness of the hymns of old and long to hear them again in a more modern tune. One year ago, we tasted of what that could be like when we heard Hymns.
Today, we will taste it yet again.
Page CXVI’s new album, Hymns II is now available for pre-order and instant digital-download. This is the first of four additional hymn albums to be released over the next 24 months. All downloads include the official chord charts for you to use at your church or event. The song list includes:
- How Great Thou Art
- Praise to the Lord
- Jesus I am Resting, Resting
- Rock of Ages
- Abide with Me
- Battle Hymn of the Republic