In 2005, the Christian-music empire created by Bill & Gloria Gaither & Their Homecoming Friends was as expansive as ever. On HYMNS, the group gathers to explore its favorite songs of praise and joy, and it's a more somber affair than the companion piece released during the same week, CHURCH IN THE WILDWOOD.
HYMNS is drenched in variety, with no one sound dominating. On "A Beautiful Life," the Florida Boys offer harmonies straight out of a barbershop quartet's playbook, while "I'd Rather Be an Old-Time Christian" revels in Carter Family-era folk. The Hayes Family blends 1970s pop with '80s country spirit on the playful "God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds," and Reggie & Ladye Love Smith turn the ear back to a classic choral tune on "He Giveth More Grace." A lonely harmonica graces "Nothing But the Blood," which calls together the whole clan for a quiet story that leads to an inspired reinterpretation of "Wayfaring Stranger." Cynthia Clawson closes the affair on a soft, a cappella note with the sweet "Softly and Tenderly."