Christian singer Jimmy Needham plans to release “The Hymns Sessions – Vol. 1,” an eclectic compilation of Christ-centered hymns, on September 10. Needham, known for his Christ-exalting lyrics and soul-pop music, wrote two original hymns for the album alongside contemporary covers of nostalgic Christian songs, some of which are hundreds of years old. The record features guest artists Trip Lee and Shane and Shane.
Jimmy Needham was the first in his family to receive Christ, when a high school friend shared the Gospel with him as a teenager. He had been struggling with sin issues at the time, but came to faith when his friend shared “the hope of the Gospel and the freedom that comes with the cross,” Needham said in an interview about his upcoming album. He has been walking with the Lord ever since, and has also been blessed by his family coming to know Christ as well.
Because he didn’t grow up in church, Needham wasn’t introduced to the “gospel-soaked hymns” until he was an adult. “I had never heard these classic songs that so many of my peers grew up with,” said the singer, who remains enthralled by the rich lyrics of the olden songs. Needham shared his passion for “how Christo-centric [the hymns] are and how much they revel in Gospel truth ... I love how full and big of a picture they paint of Jesus,” he said.
“The Hymns Sessions” was originally a gift to fans who had helped fund Needham’s Kickstarter record, “Clear The Stage.” When he gave them a bonus copy of his Hymns album, many said that they listened to it more than the record they had helped to fund. Needham realized that like him, so many of his fans loved the content of the hymns, so he went back into the studio to polish it up and release it to the public.
Needham says he took some risks on the hymns record – while the songs maintain the same timeless lyrics, one track may sound like a four-piece jazz quartet while the next has organic drum beats, or could have come from a hip-hop album. Needham said he took his agenda off the table when recording, using whatever sort of style that would serve the particular hymn’s lyrics well.
Those who pre-order “The Hymns Sessions – Vol. 1” will receive an autographed copy of the album. Needham plans to tour in the Fall with Ross King, who wrote the song “Clear the Stage.” He has also begun working on his next record, expected to be released in 2014.
Listening to an old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” Needham said he is reminded of how much of a debtor he is to God’s grace. “I feel really bankrupt more and more, and I think that’s a really healthy place to be for the Christian … to be bankrupt in ourselves,” he said of our utter neediness before a Holy God, bridged by Jesus’ work of redemption for those who receive His salvation. His “Guy, Guitar, and Gospel Tour” will begin in mid-October.
Lyrics to "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson (1750s):
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.