‘Hymns’ album review
artist: Poor Bishop Hooper
release date: July 23, 2021
star rating: four out of five
review by Brennen Smith
Poor Bishop Hooper, consisting of husband-and-wife duo Jesse and Leah Roberts, released their versions of four traditional and time-trodden hymns in July. The hymns consist of “Be Still My Soul,” “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” and “How Firm a Foundation.” Each hymn is set in a solemn mood due to the use of very few instruments – mostly piano – and the hauntingly beautiful voice of Leah Roberts, though Jesse joins his voice to hers in the last hymn.
My favorite hymn of the EP was originally written by Martin Luther in the 1500s: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” This track is the most stripped down on the album as only Leah’s voice is heard. Despite this, the song still builds to a harmonic crescendo by the addition of another tracking of Leah’s vocals after each verse, ending powerfully on the lovely reminder in the last line: “His kingdom is forever!”
The soul of the church and people is crafted by the daily mercies and liturgies we partake in. The withdrawn nature of the hymns on this EP draws the listener in to witness the sacredness of song when used to glorify God. Though hymns and a toned-down sound may seem like worn-out tropes, Poor Bishop Hooper managed to create something new and endearing due to the slow, calm, and memorable tones that drift out of a dark silence throughout the EP.