Classic CD Review: Pilgrim Song (Poet Voices)

poetvoices-pilgrimRating: 4 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 4 stars (of 5)

Song List: Pilgrim Song; O Happy Day; This Little Light of Mine; Be Still and Know; Sweeter as the Days Go By; Gotta Go Back; If it Wasn’t For Your Love; Gonna Walk; A Bridge You Cannot Burn; Heaven’s Jubilee.

Available From: Label.

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Poet Voices recorded Pilgrim Song in 1999, at the peak of their popularity, three years before their retirement. This project’s lineup was tenor Dale Brock, lead Phil Cross, baritone Donny Henderson, and bass Tim Duncan. Though the CD is out of print, it was recently digitally re-issued by Crossroads.

Since there is no group photo on the cover, and there was a change at the bass spot (David Jordan leaving and Tim Duncan coming on board) , there was some question over Jordan or Duncan was the bass singer on this project. It’s unmistakably Duncan’s voice on “Sweeter as the Days go By,” but a friend more familiar with David Jordan’s voice thought it sounded like him on “Oh Happy Day.” I emailed Phil Cross asking which bass sang on this project, and he replied that it was Tim Duncan.

The project is a mixture of new and classic songs. Of the new songs, probably the best is the title track, “Pilgrim Songs,” with “Be Still and Know” (not the hymn) not too far behind. Another memorable track, though not entirely for musical reasons, is “A Bridge You Cannot Burn.” It starts with a clip from “Jesus Built a Bridge,” the song that put Poet Voices on the map in Southern Gospel. The lyrics focus on the doctrine of eternal security, a controversial enough doctrine that most Southern Gospel songs avoid anything more than a passing reference.

The most memorable rendition of a classic song on the project is the acapella rendition of “Oh Happy Day.” The arrangement, turning the song into a quartet song, is one I have only heard recorded by Poet Voices and, several decades earlier, by the Florida Boys. I am not certain whether the Florida Boys came up with the arrangement or whether it predates them. (Do any of you know?)

“Sweeter as the Days Go By,” featuring Tim Duncan, is also particularly nicely done.

This project stands up well to the test of time and is still quite enjoyable today.

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  1. That arrangement of “O Happy Day” is in Tennessee Music’s classic Church Hymnal, so it’s at least as old as that (1951). L.B. Harris wrote the arrangement. The Cathedrals also sang it.

  2. Thanks!

  3. I like this album, but what do you think about “Gotta Go Back”? I noticed you didn’t mention it in the album review but only in the listing of songs.

  4. I was ambivalent about the track. It’s not bad, but it’s not one of Phil Cross’s best compositions ever. (Anyhow, I’m assuming it’s a Cross composition, but I don’t know). Cross has come up with some great hooks and some memorable twists on familiar phrases. Again, not that this one was bad, but even after writing the review a while back and re-listening to the CD this morning, I couldn’t even bring up the tune or chorus in my mental database.

  5. Daniel, I don’t remember “Oh happy day” being on that particular project, “Pilgrim song”. David has a very distinguishable voice, smooth, but not super deep, kind of like George Yantz! He is a very dedicated man, devoted to Gods work and not so much what man would like to see him do! I don’t know if it’s him or Tim on that version of the song, but if that’s what Phil told you, then it must have been Tim, as Phil wouldn’t lie about it! David’s not in the lime light now, but is still performing to smaller audiances and loving every minute of it. I should know, as I’m singing with him now! He’s my brother!

  6. By the way… could someone tell me which tenor is singing lead on “One Holy Lamb” in this Youtube audio—Milan or Tony? Thanks:

    • I think it’s Tony.

      • Now that I’ve listened to the end, I really think it’s Tony.

      • Ahhhh, okay. All this time I thought it was Milan! Thank you!