Rather than edging further into the secular mainstream, Michael W. Smith returned to his Christian roots on 2001’s Worship. Recorded live at the Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida, the album finds Smith putting aside his singer/songwriter role in favor of service as a worship leader. In the process, he emphasizes the communal nature of the performance, offering a mixture of his own compositions (“Agnus Dei”) and familiar worship tunes by others (“Awesome God,” “Draw Me Close”). Helping him is an all-star choir including such notables as Amy Grant, Cindy Morgan, Ginny Owens, Mark Schulz, and Out of Eden. The mood ranges from the celebratory spirit of “Open the Eyes of My Heart” to the solemn reverence of “More Love, More Power.” Rounding out the album are a pair of studio tracks with a somewhat different feel from the live recordings — “Purified” simmers with a synthesized glow, while a studio take of “Above All” has the easy pulse of Smith’s pop crossover hits. Worship remains a favorite among admirers of modern praise music.

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