Hymns to the Silence

Hymns to the Silence is the twenty-first studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was his first studio double album. Morrison recorded the album in 1990 in Beckington at Wool Hall Studios and in London at Townhouse and Westside Studios.

Hymns to the Silence
Studio album by
StudioWool Hall Studios, Beckington; Townhouse and Westside Studios, London
GenreRhythm and blues, folk, pop, Celtic, rock, gospel[1]
ProducerVan Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
Hymns to the Silence
The Best of Van Morrison Volume Two
Singles from Hymns to the Silence
  1. "I Can't Stop Loving You" b/w "All Saints Day"
    Released: May 1991
  2. "Why Must I Always Explain?" b/w "So Complicated"
    Released: September 1991

When Hymns to the Silence was released in 1991, it reached number five on the UK Albums Chart and received positive reviews from critics. Morrison's use of various musical styles was well received, as were the more worldly-themed songs on an otherwise spiritual album.

Recording and composition

The album of songs was recorded during sessions at Wool Hall Studios in Beckington, Townhouse, London and Westside Studios, London with Mick Glossop as engineer, except for the song "Take Me Back". It was recorded in 1990 at Pavilion Studios in London with Martin Hayles and Mick Glossop as engineers.[2]

"Why Must I Always Explain?" was set to the same melody as 1970s "Tupelo Honey".[3] There were two hymns. "Be Thou My Vision" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee". The song, "Carrying a Torch" was also included on Tom Jones's album by the same name, along with three other Morrison compositions from "Hymns to the Silence".[4]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[6]
Entertainment WeeklyA[7]
Rolling Stone[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[10]
The Village VoiceB+[11]

In a review for Time, Jay Cocks said "Hymns focuses and redefines Morrison's themes over his long career, rather like a museum retrospective already in progress. It dips deep into autobiography, spiritual speculation and blues mythology for its themes."[12] Rolling Stone magazine's Elysa Gardner said despite overblown hymns such as "Take Me Back" and "Pagan Streams", Morrison appropriates a variety of musical styles into both joyful and poignant songs on an album that "brims with the consistent passion that continues to make Morrison fascinating".[9] Alec Foege from Spin argued that its music is more eclectic than the entirety of Morrison's 1980s albums, while the lyrics prove he can reconcile his Christian faith with more worldly themes, allowing for "a refreshingly individualistic soul-searching".[13] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau lamented the amount of filler throughout the two discs in the form of several hymns and love songs, but complimented the secular songs about true love, ordinary life, and "the days before rock and roll", finding the album "more affecting than you'd figure" overall.[11] It was voted the 21st best album of 1991 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[14]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic's Michael Gallucci felt Hymns to the Silence was Morrison's best album during the 1990s, although he also found it too long and essentially a "spirited rewrite" of his previous record Enlightenment.[1] Rob Sheffield was more critical in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), deeming it a "complex and self-involved" imitation of Avalon Sunset with a few exceptional songs.[10]

Track listing

All songs written by Van Morrison unless noted.

Disc one

  1. "Professional Jealousy" – 3:42
  2. "I'm Not Feeling It Anymore" – 6:34
  3. "Ordinary Life" – 3:29
  4. "Some Peace of Mind" – 6:24
  5. "So Complicated" – 3:18
  6. "I Can't Stop Loving You" - (Gibson) – 3:54 (With The Chieftains)
  7. "Why Must I Always Explain?" – 3:50
  8. "Village Idiot" – 3:13
  9. "See Me Through, Pt. 2 (Just a Closer Walk with Thee)" - (Traditional) – 3:10
  10. "Take Me Back" – 9:11

Disc two

  1. "By His Grace" – 2:34
  2. "All Saints Day" – 2:28
  3. "Hymns to the Silence" – 9:42
  4. "On Hyndford Street" – 5:17
  5. "Be Thou My Vision" - (Traditional) – 3:49 (With The Chieftains)
  6. "Carrying a Torch" – 4:26
  7. "Green Mansions" – 3:38
  8. "Pagan Streams" – 3:38
  9. "Quality Street" - (Morrison, Rebennack) – 3:57
  10. "It Must Be You" – 4:08
  11. "I Need Your Kind of Loving" – 4:31



Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1991 The Billboard 200 99

Album - UK Album Chart

Year Chart Position
1991 UK Album Chart 5


  1. Allmusic review
  2. Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 526
  3. Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p 302
  4. Turner, It's Too Late to Stop Now, p.170
  5. Kot, Greg (3 October 1991). "Hymns to the Silence". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  6. Larkin, Colin. Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0195313739.
  7. Entertainment Weekly review
  8. Sutcliffe, Phil (October 1991). "New LPs: Van Morrison Hymns to the Silence". Q. p. 98.
  9. Gardner, Elysa (17 October 1993). "Hymns to the Silence". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  10. Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Van Morrison". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 559–561. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. Christgau, Robert (5 November 1991). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  12. Jay Cocks (28 October 1991). "Listen to the Lion". time.com. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  13. Foege, Alec (November 1991). "Hymns to the Silence". Spin: 106. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  14. "The 1991 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. 3 March 1992. Archived from the original on 7 May 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2015.


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