Back in 2011 I posted (or more accurately reposted) the unique “Jesus Music” album A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot Be Hid. At the time I characterised it as “the mystery album of 1970′s Christian music”.
That mystery is now at an end, thanks to Paul Griffo, who was a member of the group. He has given a detailed history of the album and the people who were involved in its making, and I urge you to read his extensive comments on the subject.
Those comments lead me to a few of my own:
- Although both Paul Griffo and I agree that the concept of “the music came directly from God” is a stretch, it comes closer to making that claim than a good deal of Christian music that came out at the time, and certainly most of what has come out since.
- Even though the composition and performance was very much a composite business, the basic unity of the album is amazing. Even more amazing, especially in view of the current concept of everything being done by a “specialist”, is that the composition and performance of the album was largely done by people who were not professional musicians and did not pursue a career/ministry in same. For someone like myself who has laboured to promote and guide lay ministries for most of his ministry career, this is extremely gratifying.
- It’s interesting to muse what would have become of the album’s later reputation if Maranatha had released it. Maranatha certainly could have used a work like this; even with strong groups like Parable and Daniel Amos, the label struggled to keep up with the rapidly expanding and changing field of contemporary Christian music, which is one reason it went to praise and worship music before the end of the 1970’s.
- I still think this deserves a revival as a church production. I’ve needled my church people along these lines for a long time; perhaps these revelations will be the first step towards making that possible.
In any case it is a magnificent album, and I am grateful to Paul Griffo for his help in telling its back story.