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Album Review: Restore My Soul
Janice Faber
Cover image of the album Restore My Soul by Janice Faber
Restore My Soul
Janice Faber
2016 / Janice Faber
65 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Restore My Soul is Janice Faber’s third full-length collection of original arrangements of solo piano hymns. Most of the thirteen hymns are quite well-known, but there are a few that I had not heard before. (None of those are new - I just wasn’t familiar with them.) An active pianist from the age of ten, Faber’s touch is graceful and soothing, expressing far more than just the notes on the page. The arrangements are all at an even, meditative tempo so the album flows beautifully as a whole. This music would be a wonderful accompaniment for any number of quiet times such as group or individual Bible study, luncheons or dinners, or simply for relaxation. Although they are masterful, Faber’s arrangements are not showy. She chooses to instead focus on the melody and the message of each hymn, expressing love and hope in a gently uplifting way.

Restore My Soul begins with “All Creatures of Our God and King,” a very familiar traditional hymn that dates back to St. Francis of Assisi in about 1225. The melody is unchanged, but Faber’s lovely arrangement brings this ancient song right into the 21st century with grace and simplicity. “Oh, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” is one of my favorite hymns and dates back to 1875. I love the minor key melody and powerful lyrics, and Faber’s arrangement and the interludes between the verses are gorgeous. “Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior” isn’t as familiar as some of the other hymns, although it has been performed and recorded by artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, MC Hammer, and Lyle Lovett. Faber’s arrangement is peaceful and soothing. “This Is My Father’s World” is another favorite of mine, and I love Faber’s original interludes on this one, too. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is a popular hymn standard, but Faber’s graceful treatment of the song refreshes it and gives it new life. The melody for “Be Still My Soul” was composed by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius as part of his patriotic symphonic poem, Finlandia. Sibelius later reworked this section into a separate song. There are quite a few different sets of words that go with the melody, but “Be Still, My Soul” is probably the best-known. Faber’s arrangement is peaceful yet stirring and very beautiful. When thinking about most-often heard hymns, “Rock of Ages” is certainly one that comes to mind. Faber’s interpretation of this nugget is short (two minutes) and to the point, again making the melody the focus and adding a basic accompaniment that allows the melody to stand out. There aren’t many hymns that have touched my life as much as “In the Garden.” I played it at my grandmother’s memorial service because it was her favorite hymn, too, so it has a very special meaning for me. Faber’s arrangement is a little slower than I usually hear it, but she puts such deep feeling into it that it feels just right. There are many versions of “The Lord’s Prayer” that are set to music, but the one that brings this beautiful album to a close was composed by Albert Hay Malotte in 1935 - an inspiring ending for a very inspiring album!

Restore My Soul is a wonderful album for those who enjoy solo piano hymns played with grace and thoughtful elegance. It is available from www.JaniceFaberPiano.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
March 2, 2017
This review has been tagged as:
Hymn Arrangements
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