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Sing the Word CDs Review by Heather Jackowitz

His Own Hand Music
PO Box 53
Ionia, NY 14475
866-339-SING (7464)

Steve and Anne Harrow are homeschooling parents and musicians whose company, His Own Hand Music, produces high-quality Scripture memory music CDs for children. Steve Harrow, the father, is the composer/arranger and recording engineer who also sings and plays the trumpet/flugelhorn and synthesizer on their CDs. Anne Harrow, the mother, plays the flute, piccolo, alto flute, and recorder. Both parents earned their Masters of Music degrees at the Eastman School of Music in New York, and both have extensive performance experience. The Harrow children (among others) sing on all six CDs.

The Harrows' vision is three-fold. First, the Bible is the focus of their work. Unlike other songs you might have heard that are based on Scripture, every song on all six of the Harrows' CDs comes straight from the Word of God, using a variety of translations. Secondly, they believe it is a responsibility and a privilege to teach children God's Word and to help them memorize Scripture. And finally, they believe that music is the best way to do this, not only because it aids memorization but also because creating art is an expression of our being created in the image of God. Their goal was to create music that was "artfully written, performed with excellence, and age-appropriate." According to the Harrows, "We enjoy and use sounds from a variety of cultures and musical eras: a Baroque string orchestra, a rhythmically intense Salsa band, an Irish jig, an Israeli hora. Children love to experience this wonderful spectrum of music which reflects the richness of God's creation. As the Word tells us, He has called ‘every tribe and every tongue' to praise Him!"

Six Scripture memory CDs are available. I have listed them below in order of their age recommendations. Each CD also includes instrumental-only tracks for each song so that you can practice singing along without lyrics as you memorize Scripture. See the website for a listing of the Scriptures included on each CD.

Sing the Word from A to Z includes 26 songs, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet from A to Z. For example, the A song teaches, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The main Bible translation used on this CD is the New International Version (NIV), but there is one song that uses the Amplified Bible, seven that use the King James Version (KJV), and one that uses both KJV and New King James Version (NKJV). Each song includes the verse reference as part of the song. This CD is recommended for ages 1-7.

A New Commandment contains 19 songs, including a "Books of the New Testament" song. I really enjoyed hearing the "Shema" (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) sung in both Hebrew and English. This CD is recommended for ages 6 and up and uses both the KJV and NKJV.

God Our Provider teaches 16 songs, including a "Books of the Old Testament" song. This CD is recommended for ages 7 and up and equally uses the KJV and Revised Standard Version (RSV), with one song from the NAS version.

Great in Counsel and Mighty in Deed contains 15 songs focused on God's counsel and might. This CD, for ages 8 and up, uses mostly the NAS version, with a couple of KJV passages.

The Heavens Declare includes 12 songs for ages 9 and up. The NAS version is predominant, but five are from the KJV and NIV.

All Nations Shall Worship contains 11 songs featuring music from non-Western cultures, including India, Middle East, Africa, China, and Indonesia. It is recommended for ages 10 and up and uses mostly NAS, with only one song each from KJV and NKJV.

The children's voices on these CDs are clear and lovely. The variety of instruments and musical styles added to our listening enjoyment as well. It is hard to say anything negative about music that glorifies God as these CDs do, but my entire family felt that these CDs would be difficult to use for memorization, which is their primary purpose. The music is complex, and Scripture is not tweaked to fit a certain rhythm. So the tunes are not catchy, especially on the longer passages. No doubt the quality of this music is much higher than you would find on a Wee Sing CD, but there is also no doubt that those simple Wee Sing tunes are catchy. Once you hear them, they are forever imbedded in your memory--whether you wanted them there or not! If Scripture memory is your goal, you might need to listen to these songs many times before they stick, especially the longer passages. You might also consider buying the Sing the Word songbooks, which contain all the music from each CD.

Product review by Heather Jackowitz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008