Rev. Ernest Davis Jr.'s Wilmington Chester Mass Choir
Hosanna! "And They Sang the Word"

Legacy choirs have the special challenge of pushing ahead with their ministries, balancing musical relevance on the one hand while retaining the influence of their founder on the other. The Whitfield Company is successfully managing that challenge, while both O’landa Draper’s Associates and Rev. Milton Brunson's Thompson Community Singers are just entering that phase.

Another inspiration for legacy choirs is the Rev. Ernest Davis Jr.'s Wilmington Chester Mass Choir. Wilmington Chester Mass Choir CD While it has been some years now since Rev. Ernest Davis Jr. has been gone, his Pennsylania-based choir has continued to move forward, with their most recent release arguably being their finest work yet.

Under the leadership of Rev. Christopher Squire, with Hosanna! "And They Sang the Word", the Wilmington Chester Mass Choir offers a polished, artful and strongly tuneful collection of ten songs, ranging from church bounce to street bump, with lots in between. The songwriting is consistently scripturally-based and foundationally solid from tracks 1 through 10. A glance at the list of writers says why (Becky White, Miche Waller, Jeffrey LaValley, Maurette Brown-Clark etc.).

With the introductory and title track “Hosanna” screams ‘urban groove’ from the get-go, and is seemingly taken straight from the “James Hall & Worship and Praise book of Gospel singing”, it is obvious that Wilmington Chester Mass has something special going on.

Another highlight is the participation of Stellar-nominated Maurette Brown-Clark, who not only contributes two songs to the project, but also makes an always-welcome appearance with a sensitively-rendered lead vocal one of them as well (“He Knows”).

The absolute masterpiece in the set is Jeffrey LaValley’s “Holy, Holy, Holy”, with its expertly arranged strings, occasional and appropriate bells, and back and forth choir section parts weaved together to give a gloriously majestic and worshipful church anthem. This one definitely qualifies as ‘Song of the Year’ material.

With nary a weak track, stength in vocals, exemplary band, horns and strings, Hosanna! “And They Sang The Word” is a project that contains all the elements essential to a ‘bomb’ project. This is Wilmington Chester Mass at the pinnacle of their recording efforts.

Producers: Rev. Christopher Squire, Howard Kennedy
album release date: October 19, 1999

— reviewed by Stan North

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