What began as a group of bluegrass musicians playing at a men’s fellowship gathering thirty three years ago has turned into a ministry, presenting God’s word through song, which hasn’t slowed for nearly 35 years. The Churchmen’s latest release, Shadow of the Cross, not only displays their talents as players and singers, but also their ability to convey the Lord’s message through original material.
The opening track, Heaven On My Mind, was written by banjoist Carroll Arnn. This cheerful song talks about how heaven should be viewed as the ultimate reward for those who believe in Jesus. Along with great banjo and vocal work from Arnn, this track also features founder Keith Clark on bass and vocals, Jay Adams on guitar and vocals, and Greg Jones on mandolin and vocals. Nathan Aldridge also adds fiddling to this song and others on this project. The Hope of Heaven by Randy Carpenter is another song that delves into this topic and features excellent fingerstyle guitar picking from Adams.
The title track, Shadow of the Cross, was co-written by Arnn and Fawn Jacobs. The lyrics describe the penalty that Christ paid on the cross in order to provide mercy, something that the song explains he still does today.
Nowhere To Run by Mark Wheeler and Raymond Fortner is a re-recording of a song from the Churchmen’s 1996 release, The Tie That Binds. Performed at a slightly slower tempo than the original rendition, it doesn’t take away from the message about anticipating the great judgement day.
Two of the songs on this recording were penned by mandolinist Greg Jones. Heaven’s Not The Place presents wonderful words about how we can leave our worries and fears behind when we enter into the gates of heaven. I Know He’ll Let Me In shares another encouraging message about one’s relationship with Christ and what eternity will provide. This track in particular features great vocal delivery from Jones.
Plain Air Ride was written by Jay Adams and discusses the journey one takes when it comes their time to go. This upbeat positive song ties a bow on the recording wonderfully.
The Churchmen have been one of bluegrass gospel music’s greatest ambassadors. Shadow of the Cross shows how they’ve continued to utilize their musical and spiritual mission in new and effective ways.