New Song: A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot Be Hid

New Song
A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot Be Hid (New Song NS-0001) 1976

Back when I first encountered the “Jesus Music” of the 1970’s, I always wondered: what if they ditched the guitars and tambourines of the “Fisherfolk” and did something orchestrally? Evidently someone else had the same idea. The result of that is this album, which is in a class by itself.

This album has always been the mystery album of 1970’s Christian music. Coming from Huntington Beach, CA, it has no credits to its musicians, but gives all the credit to “God the Holy Spirit.” That’s always buffaloed those who want to know the people who actually performed on and produced this unique work.

It’s obvious, however, that New Song Ministries implied that the music came directly from God. That’s a stretch: the rich vocals and instrumentation are frequently overdone, and one gets the impression that what they’re trying to convey is well beyond the power of their expression. But the effort is well worth it.

The last half is a suite based on the book of Revelation. Christian music buffs will draw the parallel with the second half of Daniel Amos’ Shotgun Angel, released the following year. But New Song’s approach is entirely different and, in some ways, dates more gracefully than Daniel Amos. And the end…well, that’s the most powerful moment of the album, you’ll have to experience that for yourself. It begs for live performance.

Update (June 2013): Much of the mystery behind this album is peeled away by the comments of group member Paul Griffo.  You can read these below; my comments on them are here.

The songs (for individual download:)

  1. Sing Praise To God
  2. Cry Out Hosannah
  3. Song Of Joy
  4. Jesus Savior
  5. Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled
  6. Maybe This Day
  7. The Bride’s Song
  8. Behold I Come Quickly
  9. I Had Never Imagined
  10. The Harvest Is Past

You can download the entire album here

20 thoughts on “New Song: A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot Be Hid”

  1. OK, here’s the history…from someone who was there. My name is Paul Griffo, and I live in Virginia now, but I was a member of New Song in the mid 1970s, and wrote the song “I Had Never Imagined.” And yes, there were no credits on the album because we (somewhat arrogantly) wanted everyone to think that the album somehow descended form heaven and ended up on the racks.

    New Song Ministries was an offshoot of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa (often called Big Calvary). It started in around 1975 as a Bible study that met at the Costa Mesa home of Rich and Pam Boyer, and grew into a hybrid fellowship and music ministry. Rich was (and I believe still is) an Orange County CPA who plays a mean piano and has a great voice. He’s recorded some praise stuff with Maranatha! Music. His keyboards provided the foundation of New Song’s music. Rich wrote and performed the first track on the album “Sing Praise to God.”

    Rich, however, was not the leader of New Song. The guy who pretty much ran the show was Tom West, a graduate of Downey High School, whose only credentials were his magnetic personality, his hypnotic voice and hip preaching style, and the belief of everyone around him that he was “anointed” of God. Tom had no musical abilities, but acted as the spiritual leader of New Song the fellowship, and the manager of New Song the band. His assistant was a guy named Stan Swanson, a local construction worker.

    The other main musician/singers in the band that served as the musical nucleus of New Song were Kim Scofield, a Marina High grad, and Linda Stassen. Both played multiple instruments and had angelic voices, and often performed as a duo. Linda Stassen wrote “Cry Out Hosanna” and and “Jesus Savior,” and Kim Scofield wrote “The Bride’s Song” and “The Harvest Is Past.”

    The only other singer/performer/songwriters on the album are Larry Kingery, who I believe was from the Bay Area and wrote and performed “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled” and a guy named Robby whose last name I can’t recall, who wrote and sang “Maybe This Day.”

    Robby and I lived with Bob Sklar, who is still a hair stylist in Costa Mesa. Bob Sklar didn’t write any tracks on the album but I think he performed. He is also the author of the worship tune Micah 6:8: “He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee…”

    I don’t remember who wrote “Song of Joy,” but Rich Boyer played the piano and everyone in the group sang.

    The album was produced at Buddy King Studios in Huntington Beach, where many Maranatha! albums were recorded. Buddy King was the engineer and Peter Jacobs, the former leader of Children of the Day, was the producer, and is responsible for the Moody Blues feel on “The Harvest is Past.” The cool guitar riffs on that song are played by Paul Goldman, who ended up marrying Kim Scofield, and now builds patios and sunrooms in Orange County.

    I wrote the song “I had never imagined,” but Tom West felt I wasn’t polished enough, so Robbie ended up singing it.

    The artwork was done by Neal Buchanan, who has done cover art for quite a few Maranatha! albums, including Daniel Amos’s Shotgun Angel. (Incidentally, the ’46 Studebaker truck on the cover of Shotgun Angel belonged to a friend of Neal’s named Lance Lindborg, who lovingly referred to the truck as Teddy.

    When the group outgrew the Boyer’s house, we moved to the chapel on the campus of Southern California College (SCC), which is across from the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, and now goes by the name of Vanguard University, and then it just disintegrated.

    New Song was a spontaneous combustion of talented people that Tom West was the catalyst for. I guess that’s the only way to explain it.

    So now you know.

    1. I would just like to Clarify that New Song had NO affiliation with Calvary Chapel other than using the name for an “in”. I was a member of Tom’s “Church” in Oregon, where he convinced quite a few people to sell all of their worldly goods in order to fund his ventures and then left them behind high and dry. He left a wake of distruction behind him including the death and in a time of grief took advantage of the widow. I hope that you survived him unscathed.

      1. I & my children were affected also and I was ripped off too for several years of my life. We must forgive everyone that have hurt us and I still pray Tom makes it to heaven!
        DeAnna

      2. Where is Tom these days, 2017? Also wondered where his wife Linda ended up. Dwight Rudd in Virginia

          1. I am well and I hope you are too. In addition to Tom, I also wondered what happened to Craig Gates, his successor at Mansion Messiah.

          2. I haven’t seen Tom West, Linda, or Craig Gates since we moved from CA in 1978. Perhaps Steve and Susie Carr would know. They still live in California (Arroyo Grande, which is up by Santa Maria) and Steve has been pastoring a Calvary up there since about ’77 or ’78. They’ve kept in touch with a lot of people. They are on Facebook. Hey, Dwight, if you are on FB get in touch and tell us what you’ve been doing for the last 40 years!

  2. By the way, I just confirmed some information…

    Robby’s last name was Nichols. He co-wrote “Maybe This Day” with Bob Sklar.

    “Song of Joy” was written by Linda Stassen.

    Kim and Linda co-wrote “The Bride’s Song.”

    1. I am looking for Michael Lee
      Kim Scofield and Linda Stassen. Please call me, Sally Jo Smedley Gardarian 970 328-6288. I’m not computer savy. In Christ Always, sj
      I won’t get your emails so please call.

  3. Here’s the copyright info from the Library of Congress:

    EU715585.

    I had never Imagined. w £ m Panl
    Griffo. 1 p. a Paul Griffo; 20Sep76;
    EU715585.

    EU7155e6,

    The Bride’s song. w £ m Kim Annette
    Scofield, m Linda Lee Stassen, 1 p.
    e Kim Scofield £ Linda Stassen; 20Sep76;
    EU715586,

    ED715587,

    Maybe this day. w £ m Robert William
    Sklar, m Robert Leon Nichols. 1 p. C Bob
    Sklar £ Robert Nichols; 20Sep76;
    ED715587.

    ED7155e8.

    Don’t let your heart be troubled. w £ a
    Larry Delray Kingery. 1 p. ^ Larry
    Kingery; 20Sep76; £0715588.

    £0715569.

    Jesus Savior. w £ m Linda Lee Stassen.
    1 p. Linda stassen; 20Sep76;
    E0715589.

    EU715590.

    Song of joy. w £ m Linda Lee Stassen,
    1 p. O Linda Stassen; 20Sep76;
    EU715590.

    E0715591,

    Cry out, hosannah. w £ m Linda Lee
    Stassen. 1 p. Linda Lee Stassen;
    20Sep76; E0715591.

    En715592,

    Sing praise to God. w E m Richard
    Gensley Boyer. 1 p. O Rich Boyer;
    20Sep76; EU715592.

  4. Paul
    My name is Ron Mytinger…Eons ago I was a part of the Bible Study group with Pam and Rich…Even lived there for a while.
    During that time I was in a band with Kim and Linda called “David”…
    To date…that was some of the most beautiful and creative music I have heard.
    Use to have the original demo tape we did…it is long since gone…Dang
    Would love to get in touch with Kim or Linda and see if they have any copies…
    If you can help please contact me at:
    ronaldmytinger@gmail.com
    Thank You
    Ron

  5. November 7, 2013

    Hi to my New Song Family!

    Last week I returned to my home in Keizer, Oregon, after attending the Tribute to Chuck Smith in Anaheim, CA. Sitting in the Honda Center among more than 14,000 Christians who had gathered to say good-by to Papa Chuck was almost overwhelming. There is no way to describe the joy of joining my voice with my brothers and sisters in praise to our Lord Jesus for His faithfulness to all of us. Of course, the trip to Southern California brought back many memories of our “musical roots” at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

    God began a work in us during the 1970’s Jesus movement and He will certainly be faithful to complete His work until He calls us home.

    If any of you would like to contact me, I’d love to hear from you. Certainly we all have stories to share of how Jesus has continued to prepare us, as His Bride, for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Looking back, it seems only yesterday that we were sitting in Rich & Pam’s home, listening to God’s word and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. In many ways, this was the birthplace for the music of “A City Set Upon a Hill.” I like to think of those days as a prelude to our Heavenly Wedding when Jesus, our Bridegroom, will present us to our Father as His pure and spotless bride. Paul, your song “I Had Never Imagined” gives us a foretaste of how it could be on that day when we are face to face with Jesus.

    Perhaps we will not have another opportunity to worship together as a New Song family here on earth; but our Heavenly Reunion will certainly exceed our greatest of expectations.

    Continuing in His love,

    Larry Kingery

  6. We used to attend that fellowship. That album was such a blessing; I believe it really was anointed–whenever we listened to it, I felt like it ushered me into the presence of Jesus. I’ve often wondered what ever happened to Tom West–he did have a magnetic personality, but we did hear that he seemed to have gotten kind of messed up later.

    1. I was a part of New Song during the Boyer fellowship and the creation of the album. I had been a Christian for a couple of years and spent most of that time at Neal Buchanan’s home fellowship. Then I got involved with New Song. Tom and I rented a little building in Costa Mesa together and flipped old Volvos to supplement the ministry ‘s (Tom’s) income for about a year. During that period New song would be invited to small churches in the Southern California area to come and teach worship. I became a part of that effort as a roady and occasional the preaching side. I mostly fixed up Volvos in our shop everyday and spent a lot of those days alone doing the “Lords” work and wondering where Tom was. I was basically mesmerized by Tom at that point in my life. I remember stuffing a lot of feelings hanging out with him everyday. He was pretty arrogant about who we were as a ministry and his stance against contemporary Christian music. I remember struggling with the tension I was experiencing when Tom would grind on Maranatha Music and especially Chucks discernment concerning all of it. I found myself questioning Chuck? Wow. I also thought he was a lousy husband to Linda. I did a lot of lip biting. I think we all have a God given alarm that goes off in us when things aren’t right but I’ve slept through and ignored plenty of alarms in my life including the ones that went off during my tenure with Tom. I lost a lot of the first love innocence in those days. Tom was a guy that in my opinion was a hustler on the run and worked a lot of people over. I left that ministry pretty jaded. Actually I didn’t just leave. Very briefly Tom and I crossed paths with Keith Green who quickly saw what was going on and started opening my eyes to it. I also owe some to Neal Buchanan for his influence. Tom resented my relationship with Keith and essentially gave me an ultimatum to get behind him or get out. So I accommodated. I had a lot of respect for Keith. He was a real tent maker. Tom was just a guy at the top of the pyramid. The guy was capable of getting people to do anything. I am thankful I was extracted before that whole Oregon thing happened. I was way to vulnerable to the deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Tom movement.
      Moral of the story. They are just men. Redeemed but wretched. Listen to your heart. God is faithful to His word. He did not leave us comfort less and without guidance. It’s ours to respond however. I also believe Tom is the Lords and God will ultimately keep his promises to him as well. I haven’t really thought about all this stuff in years. Weird how it just lays in there until you wiggle it a little.

      John Destefano

  7. yeah, well… everyone who come to visit me want something. even my own dad. i give and give like santa and never get anything from them but hassles and misdirected nonsense.. Thank God who gives and gives and gives and taught me to do the same… now i just need to make myself even stronger so i can watch them all burn while i dance to the music of all these various snake-charmers..

    anti-venom is made *FROM* their poison

    1thes 5:21 (the ‘murican express card.. don’t leave home without it)

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