4 November 2022

An album that lives up to its name

Major Malcolm Westwood

A photo of the Blessings album cover featuring flowers

Major Malcolm Westwood reviews Blessings by the International Staff Songsters. 

The latest album by the International Staff Songsters contains a rich mixture of songs with something to suit every taste in music. Listeners will find the familiar names of Harry Read and Robert Redhead (‘Thou Has Called Me’), George Marshall’s music to the words of Reginald Woods (‘In the Stillness’), not omitting to mention the incomparable words of Miriam Richards (‘Just Where He Needs Me’) put to music by Andrew Mair, and how grateful so many will be to hear the words of ‘In the Secret of Thy Presence’ by Albert Orsborn, here set to the music of Olaf Ritman – a very acceptable alternative to the music with which we usually associate the words.

The songsters excel in their recording of more recent songs, too – such as ‘Amazing God’ (Lee Fisher). Indeed, such is the evident choral training of the songsters that the message is clearly expressed in each of the songs chosen – a truly gifted achievement. A simple list of tracks could well fail to capture the careful selection process that has gone into the album.

No doubt we will each have our favourites from this excellent album and perhaps it will be a reminder of how fortunate The Salvation Army is to have such an outstanding choral representation. Tribute should be paid, too, to ISS accompanist Richard Phillips, not only for the different styles of songs with which he copes with admirable ease but also for his enviable compositional and arrangement skills.

In the foreword to the album, ISS leader Dorothy Nancekievill expresses her hope that ‘this recording will uplift, encourage and be a blessing for you as you navigate life’s joys and challenges’. Dorothy’s leadership of the ISS over almost 20 years has provided us with an example of what devotional music can achieve. Her hope will undoubtedly be realised – Blessings is the perfect title for this album.

Get the album

Blessings is available to buy as a CD or digital download at sps-shop.com.

Buy album from SP&S

Discover more

Lieutenant Gill McCredie reviews More Than Conquerors by Una Voce.

Our annual carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall – recording available.

Inspiring others to realise the potential that music and creative arts can have in expressing who we are and who God is.

Resources to support your local music and creative arts ministry.

Related tags