I’ve been following Michael W. Smith’s music since 1985, the same year I rededicated my life to the Lord. Some of his earlier works included “The Big Picture” and “I 2 Eyes,” and my personal favorites such as “A New Hallelujah,” released in 2008. Michael’s style has changed through the years, but I must say that his most recent release — Wonder — offers some of the biggest changes.
This 12-song compilation was released this summer; my younger son and I purchased a copy at a World Vision benefit concert where “Smitty” performed with Third Day and Toby Mac. That concert was amazing – some of the best known and gifted names in Christian music together on one stage. Michael performed several of his classics and told the audience about losing some people dear to him this past year, events which brought forth “Wonder.”
It is three middle songs in the set which give the listener an understanding of what Smith has been through – “I’ll Wait For You,” “Forever Yours,” and “Welcome Home.” These songs are at once hopeful, happy and sad, heart cries from a man who has clearly been transformed if not broken. These are songs of love for his wife, Debbie, and the loss of special people in their lives.
After the middle set is the title track song Wonder (Not Far Away) – a beautiful and upbeat reminder that God is, indeed, nearby. This song is positive, fast moving and happens to reveal that Michael’s voice is changing – he sounds older, but still polished – a far more mature man than the singer/songwriter we knew in his youth.
That should be encouraging to believers too – as much as Smitty has changed, he remains the same person who loves God, leads us in worship and shares his heart. Indeed, Smith is still very much involved with Rocketown, a Nashville ministry he founded in 1994 designed to reach out to teens, providing them with a safe place to receive counseling and encouragement, and to take part in Bible studies, discussion groups, service projects and more. Originally founded as a teen club, Rocketown has expanded into a coffee bar, indoor skateboard park, art and dance studios, and live entertainment facility.
You can download single songs or the entire CD from iTunes, but my recommendation is that you buy this CD for your personal library (Smith|$9.99). Smitty fans know that he is gifted and glorifies God – they’ll take delight in a music compilation holding true to that heritage.
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