Great Big God 3: God's Love Is Big
Reviewed by Peter Dilley (Cross Rhythms)
If I had to describe an ideal children's album, I'd use words like energy, excitement, good musicianship and production, a solid Biblical/theological basis, and above all FUN. In the world of Christian retail punters are sometimes offered limp, pre-programmed, patronising, sugar-coated, sentimental nonsense. Happily, this third collection from British teacher-cum-worship leader Nigel Hemming and the Great Big God team is very much the former. The band are some of the same guys you hear on "grown-up" worship albums, most notably Calum Rees (drums) and Matt Weeks (bass) - they certainly give it some welly and you'll see from the bonus DVD that they enjoyed themselves too. Lead vocalists are Nigel, Jodie Frye and even Cathy Burton (soloing on Sarah Pickering's prayerful "Kiss It Better"), and adding to the atmosphere, hordes of enthusiastic kids sing in the background. Also on the DVD are dance steps, live footage, plus Nigel's explanation of the development of the Great Big God project to date. Complementing the songs, the enhanced CD also gives you chord charts and acetate masters - quite a package.
Reviewed by Greg Farmer (New Wine magazine)
This latest worship album for children from Vineyard UK is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time. As with all Vineyard projects the musicianship is first class, but this album raises the standard for kids’ worship songs. It contains anthem after anthem of well-crafted, well-produced songs. It’s also rockier than any other children’s worship CD I’ve heard, which will appeal to the target group of 8-12 year olds because of bands like Busted, McFly and Avril Lavigne. Is it just for kids? No way. I could listen to some of these songs over and over again. Some of my favourites are God’s love is big, I will praise You, singing with the angels (the guitar intro reminds me of Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix) and Find a way (To give You praise).
The album also comes with a DVD, which includes behind the scenes footage, the stories behind the songs, and actions to some of the songs (you can’t help but do them) and live footage of GBG worship events from around the world. I recently found out that people learn 70 per cent of their theology from worship songs. The Vineyard team is doing amazing work to fuel hearts of worship in children and help them develop a relationship with Jesus. These songs speak to children of the love of a great big God, helping them realise that we worship the King of kings no matter what we are going through. If you have kids aged 8-12 or know someone who has, buy it. And if you haven't, buy it for yourself.
Great Big God For Preschoolers
Reviewed by Phil Thomson (Cross Rhythms)
If you are going to reach innocent young minds with life-changing concepts, here is the way to do it. This whole album positively fizzes and bubbles with life, truth and unbounded enthusiasm - all delivered in manageable soundbites. You don't just listen to an album like this, you act it out with all the fidgetty, wriggly rhythm and bouncability you can muster. The songs are superbly visual, interactive and full of wonderfully provocative moments: "Pigs go 'oink...but they don't say I love you like I do" (Sarah Pickering's "The Lions Roar"), "We can clap and click, wave and shake/catch and throw, pick up and make" ("Special" - Sarah Pickering again). This is a totally kids-centred production, guaranteed to move any "foot-stomping, hand-clapping, knee-slapping, toe-tapping all-singing child of the Lord" (Joanne Stuckey's 'All Singing Child").
I have never heard such quality child-friendly songs in years; all credit to the writers. Children are the hardest to please and so discerning - and for the child in us all, this one hits the button with the children's infectious singing. I just love the way the team lead from the front, the vocalists introducing instruments as if they were alive, orchestrating the changes of pace with so much assurance and everyone singing their hearts out at the slightest excuse. No wonder you keep it running, no wonder the children flooded into Nottingham to be a part of the recording sessions. Full marks go to Nigel Hemming, Simon Parry, Sarah Pickering, Cathy Burton and all the others involved in this Vineyard production. A first rate resource for any hard-pressed Sunday school.
Great Big God 2 : Tiny Little Me
Reviewed by Tony Cummings (Cross Rhythms Magazine Issue 77)
The sheer joyful exuberance captured here makes this one of the most enjoyable children’s projects released for years. Recorded at a Birmingham church, the kids are clearly having a ball while the songs are excellent with Simon Parry’s “He’s Jesus” suddenly surging into a double time climax with riffing brass and Nigel Hemming’s “Tiny Little Me” a tongue-twisting listing of God’s creation (“crocodiles and antelopes and jelly fish and billy goats”). I’m not sure about the spoken bit of “Down On My Knees” which sounds like it was recorded at another time and place but the Nigel Hemming duet with the incomparable Esther Alexander on “Shout Of Praise” works well. All in all, another example that it is possible to record music for the under eights without making the adults cringe.
Great Big God Series
Reviewed by Mitzi Barker, Community Covenant Church, Alaska
Greetings to you from the brothers and sisters (young and no-so-young) in Eagle River, Alaska!
Wanted you to know how the Great Big God series is helping children half a world away celebrate and engage with God. When our church launched a children's praise and worship program in 2004, I searched for material that would offer kids-size worship, with music and lyrics that complement the contemporary rock-style music that characterizes our adult worship services.
Great Big God is IT - something beyond traditional Sunday School songs, and yet not just kids' voices singing adult songs.
Our Alaska children love virtually everything we've used from the GBG series! We field a full band, and minister twice monthly with special kids' praise and worship services. The lyrics connect with kids' real lives, and open the door to worship in prayer, movement, and art as well as music.