Southern Seminary’s Norton Hall Band releases ‘Be Thou My Vision’
“Filled with stripped-down worship songs via the medium of reclaimed classic hymns, Be Thou My Vision is the all-around favorite,” wrote the magazine editors in the July/August issue. “It’s hard to beat beautiful production applied to cherished songs of the faith.”
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s worship band released Be Thou My Vision, Sept. 1. Norton Hall Band — named after the seminary’s primary academic building — is composed of lead singer Devon Kauflin, electric guitarist Jeff Dyke, drummer Jared Hoffman, pianist Jonatan Barahona, and bass player Micah Loggins. Jacob Bozarth also played bass on the recording, and Steve Cook and Mark Owens helped produce the album.
“These songs are not about the music, but about the message: a transcendent, holy God sends his Son to take our place and save us, and through him we have newness of life,” said Kauflin.
Commenting on the band’s talent, Joseph R. Crider, Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship and executive director of Southern Seminary’s Institute for Biblical Worship, says the band members’ individual involvement in local churches is what makes Norton Hall a joy to lead.
“All of these guys contribute to the unique sound of Norton Hall, but they are most interested in serving those who gather corporately to worship Jesus Christ,” he said. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the way they model and live out servant leadership. All of them also are serving in the worship ministries of local churches.”
The album contains six hymns — “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and “Take My Life” — each rearranged but retaining their original tune.
“These texts have served the church for generations before us and will likely continue to do so for generations after us. By setting these texts to music we are hopefully helping others to re-engage with the wonderful message of these hymns,” Kauflin said. “These arrangements are simply a small expression of God’s glory seen in the diversity of his church.”
The songs are “new and fresh without compromising the original melodies, and they are very similar to the way the band leads those hymns in our Southern Seminary chapel services,” Crider said.
Kauflin says the album is an extension of the band’s role at Southern Seminary in chapel services, conferences, and other events.
“A big reason why Norton Hall exists is to serve this community at Southern Seminary,” he said. “Our hope is that these songs will further encourage this community to glory in God's greatness, marvel at the work of Jesus Christ, and walk by the Holy Spirit.”
Be Thou My Vision is available for purchase on iTunes, and physical copies are available in Souther
n Seminary’s LifeWay campus bookstore. The band uploaded a video for the title track, “Be Thou My Vision,” which is available on its Vimeo page.
Southern Seminary also features several other bands and vocal ensembles each year. Doxology is an ensemble made of 16 seminary students from various countries, including Ukraine, Uganda, Honduras, and Austria. The group released an album in 2013, He Still Saves, which features 13 modern and classic hymns. Doxology’s newest album, O Great Redeemer, is set for release in spring 2015.
Other musical groups at the seminary include Southern Chorale, Cooke Hall Band, and several groups from Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary. Each perform and lead worship for the seminary community throughout the semester.