This I Know: Ageless Hymns of Faith
is the fourth in Jeff Bjorck’s “Pure Piano” solo piano series. The first three albums begin and end with favorite hymns, and this one does, too, but on this one, all fifteen tracks are Bjorck’s arrangements of hymns that have been and are important in his life. A clinical psychologist, researcher, and professor at Fuller Seminary’s Graduate School of Psychology (Pasadena, CA), in addition to being a composer/arranger/pianist and avid humanitarian and hang-glider, Dr. Bjorck brings a wealth of experience and emotional depth to these timeless classics, making them his own and presenting them as deeply personal expressions of his faith. The excellent liner notes put into words what each of these hymns means to Bjorck and why he chose them for this collection, giving insight into the origins of the music and revealing much about Bjorck himself. The fifteen hymns include the six from Bjorck’s previous releases, three that were recorded between 1995 and 2005, and six new recordings that were done in 2007. There are a lot of collections of favorite hymns out there, but very few reach this level of personal expression, artistry, and passion. It is very obvious that Bjorck has lived with this music for most of his life and that his interpretations of the songs come from his soul as well as his heart.
All of the selections on “This I Know” are an inspiration, but I’ll mention a few of my favorites. “’Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus” is a beautiful arrangement that clearly expresses the peace of “letting go” and trusting completely. The simple melody is accompanied by a flowing left hand that is occasionally punctuated by deep bass notes. “Fairest Lord Jesus” was one of the first hymns Bjorck learned as a young child, and his arrangement reflects a childlike innocence and unwavering faith. “Holy, Holy, Holy” was the hymn Bjorck and his wife chose for their wedding processional - obviously a very important song for them. This arrangement has a quiet peacefulness that is intended to be meditative and calming. “Jerusalem” appeared on Bjorck’s first album, and was a favorite of mine then. I had the privilege and pleasure of proofreading Bjorck’s sheet music of this piece recently, and just love this arrangement. “O, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” is my favorite track. The haunting melody and rolling left hand accompaniment are both passionate and compelling. I also really like “Be Still My Soul.” Beginning very simply in the treble with the melody only, the emotional depth of this piece is amazing. The piece fills out as it progresses, but Bjorck keeps it uncluttered and direct, a song from the heart. Bjorck concludes this collection with a sweet and gentle version of “Jesus Loves Me,” a perfect ending.
This I Know
is a wonderful recording for anyone who loves the classic hymns, but will also be a joy for anyone who loves deeply-felt piano solos. A rich and satisfying experience awaits the listener. Sure to be a favorite for 2007! “This I Know” is available from www.purepiano.com
, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!