Music Resources for Todays Christian Worship
From the beginning Reflection's singers and musicians were in great demand for services, presentation and worship conferences throughout the UK, and rapidly built up contacts in all parts of the Church and the media. New publications were seized upon and evaluated to discover the best of the new songs and hymns.
This was part of the overall Reflection philosophy of finding out what was happening throughout the Church, "reflecting on" the new material and approaches to worship, and then "reflecting out" to others what was proving to be the best. So it was not long before thoughts turned to recording as an effective means of communicating.
A toe had been put in the water with a budget EP of Michael Lehr's "A Mass of Saints and Sinners", followed by two 7" singles ("Brave New Day" and "Hungry Road" (in association with MAYC for whom it was performed at the Royal Albert Hall. But the real challenge for a part-time voluntary organisation was to create and distribute a series of well-produced full albums. This was ultimately the result.
Initially only Reflection's musicians and singers were involved and they inevitably developed their own styles and preferences in the early albums. However, the aim was to help make all types of good music available, and that has accounted for the great variety of music recorded over the years! Clicking on the sleeve graphics above will take you to full details of the relevant album.
Surprisingly, there is still a considerable interest in these recordings, and although there are now very few copies of the originals left, the recordings have been painstakingly cleaned up and remastered. So it is now possible to make them available on CD, complete with Jewel Case inserts.
However, this is not a commercial operation and no stocks are held. All CDs are burned and packaged to order as time permits. The cost per CD (as of February 2009) is £6.00 in the UK or $10.00 for the USA, both including postage and packing, and payable by personal cheque (I have a US bank account) - but if you are interested in further details please either email to:
RL301 "The Present Tense - Songs of Sydney Carter"
Reflection's first album was an immediate success. Gathering together fifteen of the late Sydney Carter's best songs in acoustic and electric folk arrangements, it remains a classic album.
Some of the songs are stark ("Friday Morning", some meditative "I Wore the Mask"), some probing ("When They Shouted Hosanna"), and others exhilarating ("Travel On!") - but without exception they provide compelling listening.
Don't look for pre-packaged faith here, but anyone prepared to think will find a wealth to think about!
RL302 "Reflection Meets Beaumont"
This second album couldn't have been more different. Geoffrey Beaumont (Fr. Gerard Beaumont after he joined the Community of the Resurrection) was one of the great pioneers of new Christian worship music, and a great friend of Reflection.
Originally his music was rooted in the popular idiom of the 40's, with highly singable new melodies for traditional hymns. However, towards the end of his life he wrote some excellent tunes to new words, still not published but deserving to be much more widely known.
Here Beaumont and Reflection worked together to create an album that would showcase his music as he intended it to be, mixing piano-based and guitar-based arrangements in a unique way.
RL303 "Reflection on Hymns of our Time"
One of Reflection's prime goals was to make widely accessible the tremendous range of new worship material that was emerging throughout the Christian world. It was a time of explosive change, particularly in the realm of music.
Sadly, such recordings as were then available were generally indifferent in quality, and the published music rarely gave a true indication of the vibrancy of the music.
Reflection's musicians and singers put that right by identifying sixteen of the very best new hymns and show-casing them in the dynamic yet practical arrangements they were using themselves in worship situations.
Christmas music can be pure saccharin, even when totally up to date in terms of music. Reflection determined to create a Christmas album that was different, and "Nativity" was the result.
This isn't a rejection of mystery and wonder, but is earthed in the reality of life rather than indulging in sentimental escapism.
RL305 "A Folk Passion"
"Folk" is perhaps something of a misnomer - you don't normally expect to hear the thunder of a church organ mingling with electric guitars and drums!
However, John Lockley's inspired fusion of the traditional and the new received wide acclaim in performances by "Twentieth Century" throughout the UK, and Reflection felt it warranted much wider availability.
RL306 "Lonesome Stone"
"Lonesome Stone" marked yet another new development for Reflection Records. A Christian Rock Musical brought over from California and with a storyline set in San Francisco, it aimed to speak to those for whom the message of "freedom and instant love" was turning sour.
Featuring the influential Christian group, "The Sheep", it was premiered at London's Rainbow Theatre and later toured the UK and Europe. Reflection was delighted to be asked to produce and distribute the original soundtrack recording, as well as producing a promotional film.
RL307 "Hosanna - A Portrait of Jesus"
In expanding the frontiers of Christian worship, Reflection wanted to explore more deeply the possible fusion of worship and theatre. "Hosanna - A Portrait Of Jesus" was the result.
Conceived as a large theatrical experience, "Hosanna" was designed to involve the audience/congregation fully in the unfolding exploration of the person of Jesus, with an important role in both music and drama, alongside the actors, musicians and a specially-formed new large choir, "Charisma".
The experiment worked so well that an edited version of the live recording became Reflection's next album.
RL308 "Here Is Youth Praise"
Charisma and Friends
It's hard to believe now, but evangelical Christians were initially deeply suspicious of the use of guitar-based music in worship. "Youth Praise" was the amazingly successful songbook that catalysed the change in the UK, and the Church Pastoral Aid Society (its publishers) decided to celebrate its follow-up "Youth Praise II" with a recording. Finding that the initial tracks (recorded with session musicians and singers) lacked devotional feel, they approached Reflection for ideas.
The solution was to take a mobile recording studio to All Souls', Langham Place in London, bring in Reflection's "Charisma" choir, invite along Christian friends via the Church of England Newspaper to add body to the chorus, choose the best of the instrumental backing tracks, add church organ - and record! No easy task, but the result was electric - and unbelievably seamless.
RL310 "Sounds Of Salvation"
"Sounds Of Salvation" saw Reflection returning to the experimental in a different way. The Methodist Missionary Society had committed itself to exploring the theme of the 19 World Council of Churches General Assembly, "Salvation Today", and commissioned Reflection to produce a resource package including a recording. "Sound Of Salvation" was the result.
RL311 "Here Is Psalm Praise"
All Souls' Choir, Orchestra and Friends
After the phenomenal success of "Here Is Youth Praise", CPAS resolved to adopt a similar approach with its new book "Psalm Praise", but this time missing out the studio phase! The other big difference was that this time the arrangements would be fully orchestral, featuring the All Souls' orchestra and choir under their Musical Director, Nöël Tredinnick. However, there was again a full church of Christian friends to swell the singing.
Many of these psalm-hymns have since become firm favourites - particularly "Tell Out, My Soul" (Tim Dudley-Smith's versification of the Magnificat) and the inspired setting of "God Is Our Strength And Refuge" to Eric Coates' "Dambusters' March.
TCRW1 "Travelling Salvation Road Show"
The "Travelling Salvation Road Show" was the product of an increasing interest by Reflection members in the street theatre concept, and was toured successfully for three years by Reflection. The theme was, in a sense, a modern version of "Pilgrim's Progress" - what hinders us on our journey to God - but there are no overt references.
The lyrics, by Peter Casey, were as compelling as ever and inspired some excellent settings from other members, particularly Rob Cox.
TCRW2 "A Question Of Caring"
In retrospect it seems that "A Question Of Caring", Reflection's last commercial recording, returned to the roots. Conceived as a song-cycle, to be listened to or interpreted in dance/movement, it combined disparate elements into a whole - drawing on much of Reflection's past experience.
"I Dreamed" and "Half The World" were discovered in Reflection's early days; "Grave New World" was a Dave Cousins' Strawbs classic; "Break Not The Circle" a new setting of a Fred Kaan hymn.
The remaining songs all derived from Peter Casey lyrics, though from different periods. Many were specially written, but others went back several years. "Spin The Wheel", for example, is an amalgam of two musical approaches to Peter's lyrics developed over a weekend workshop for young Christian musicians. What tied everything together was the continuing Reflection philosophy of committed but honest searching.