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By Paul Proctor

January 16, 2008

Something strange happened a couple of years ago in the music business here in Nashville. At the peak of his career, a country music superstar went into his producer's studio to record a CD full of songs that he had pulled from a Baptist Hymnal, mostly because his mother had been requesting it for years.

According to Alan Jackson's wife, Denise, who recently authored a book titled It's All About Him, chronicling their once-troubled marriage, and how the Lord had miraculously reunited them after a difficult separation, recounted how he finally kept his promise to record that Gospel CD - and upon completion, surprised his mother with it one Christmas morning.

It was a very simple and sparsely produced project - just something special for his momma. In fact, the cover photo for it was provided by Alan himself - nothing more than a distant shot of him sitting on the steps of an old country church with his guitar. It was an understated work by an understated man.

Denise had this to say about it in her book:

We made additional copies of Alan's Gospel CD and gave them to extended family and friends. Then, to our surprise, the record label executives decided that our little family CD needed to be released commercially. It was an odd decision. The album wasn't slick or professional. The label wasn't planning to promote it. And they knew that the country radio stations wouldn't play it. In other words, releasing it made no commercial sense. But they did it anyway.

To everyone's surprise, the Precious Memories CD shot up the charts and stayed there. Released in February 2006, it spent twelve of its first nineteen weeks at the top of the Country, Christian and Gospel sales charts. It was the first Gospel album ever to debut at #1 on the Country music charts.

Long story, short - it went platinum.

She went on to quote Reuters News Service as saying, "Sometimes it's the simplest, purest, creative expressions that resonate most powerfully with consumers."

I couldn't agree more. And so it is with the Gospel of Christ - a pure yet powerful expression of Divine love that's so simple a child could understand.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

But the strangest thing of all about the hymns Alan sang is that you hardly ever hear them inside a church anymore. For many of us, they've truly become precious memories.

Why do you suppose that is?

Could it be there's too much theology in them - too much humility and holiness - and not enough sensuality and groove for today's "Christian" consumer who fancies rhythm and romance over reverence and repentance?

That said, isn't it ironic that folks outside the sanctuary can't get enough of them?

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." - Colossians 3:16  What are your thoughts on this article?