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Album Review – Rachel Wilhelm: “Requiem”

The Context

Rachel Wilhelm is no stranger to writing songs of lament – her first full-length album from 2017 is Songs of Lament, and she produced and contributed to 2020’s Daughter Zion’s Woe. Requiem, released in March 2021, follows a similar trajectory. She is a Minister of Music and Worship Arts and singer/songwriter based in Knoxville, TN. Wilhelm has also poured her time and energy into equipping songwriters and worship artists through United Adoration, a project of the ACNA. Requiem was written during the quarantine of 2020 for the purpose of helping families grieve when funeral and memorial services and other gatherings were unavailable. Not only to mourn loved ones, it is also an album to grieve the loss of a whole year of life as usual.


The Content

From the perspective of congregational singing, this album alternates between songs suited for reflection and songs suited for congregational participation. Wilhelm’s previous songwriting fit a more folk/americana style, but Requiem beautifully utilizes strings, piano/keys, and layered harmonies to create a very different musical backdrop for her raw and plaintive vocals. The songs follow a liturgical structure, with versions of the Kyrie, Offertory, Sanctus, etc., including a string postlude that draws melodic themes together.

Musically, this album creatively engages with melodic themes and minor keys in ways that serve the songs and develop the appropriate moods of grief and lament. On songs that are congregational, Wilhelm includes choral accompaniment in ways that invite the listener to sing along. On the songs that are more reflective, Wilhelm elaborates on the melodies in simple yet interesting ways, and sometimes the string arrangements take the center stage.

Lyrically, Wilhelm uses Scripture and passages from the Book of Common Prayer in ways that are engaging and refreshing. All of the songs are clear, even when dipping into biblical language, and phrasing on congregational songs is very singable.

Songs that are most appropriate for congregations include: “Lord Have Mercy,” “Lamb of God,” and “Holy.” Each of these songs has a chorus or anthem that rang in my ears long after the song ended, and these are the songs I plan to adapt for my local church.

The Conclusion

Requiem accomplishes its goal of being a resource for grief and lament. In addition to its original intent for grief during COVID, this album provides rich, textured songs for reflection and response for the season of Lent or for Holy Week. With careful re-arrangement, churches of any size or musical capability could recreate some of these songs for corporate use. Otherwise, this album evokes a wonderful mood of lament, contemplation, and longing for the risen Christ and the resurrection of the dead—an important resource for worship leaders and worship planners/liturgists working with limited capacities in response to COVID-19 or during the Lenten season.


To listen to the album, go to: Apple Music Album Link


Review provided by David Calvert, who is the Creative Arts Director for Grace Community Church in rural North Carolina and a PhD graduate in Theology and Worship from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.



This episode is with English hymn writer and retired minister in the Church of England, Christopher Idle. It was recorded by Ben Brody at The Hymn Society in Great Britain and Ireland’s 2019 Annual Conference in Canterbury, England. For a full biography of our guest, click here.




Season 3 – Episode 4

In this interview with Christopher Idle who has written over 500 hymn texts, meaningful texts are shared from his faith story. Having been formed and served in the Anglican tradition, this interview explores what it like to be a hymn writer: struggles, discouragements, successes, and encouragements.


Listening time: 21 minutes


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This episode is the 2nd part of Ben Brody’s interview with retired bishop and renowned hymn writer Timothy Dudley Smith.


Season 2 – Episode 5

In this interview with Timothy Dudley Smith we continue to hear about his story of faith and music-making in the church. His writing process, results, and impact are discussed.



Listening time: 24 minutes


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Also available on: iHeartRadio



This episode is the first of two interviews with Bishop Timothy Dudley Smith. The second interview will be posted in season 2. Born 26 December 1926 in Manchester, England, he served as Archdeacon of Norwich from 1973-81 and Bishop of Thetford from 1981-91. As a hymn writer he has published almost 400 hymn texts, many of which appear in published hymnals throughout the English-speaking world and in translation. He is an honorary vice-president of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music. In 2003 he was awarded an OBE ‘for services to hymnody’, and in 2009 an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) from the University of Durham.


Season 1 – Episode 2

An interview with hymn writer Timothy Dudley Smith.


Listening time: 33 minutes, 03 seconds


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I remember when I was 9 or 10, I was attached to a hymn called ‘O Happy Band of Pilgrim,’….which is no longer one of my favorites, actually…


I sometimes think that God answered that prayer in an unexpected way…as God often does.


We are given strong warnings [in the bible] that if there are talents they are not to be buried in the ground.