NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 18: In this image released on April 18, Alan Jackson performs onstage at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards at the Ryman Auditorium on April 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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10 Uplifting Hymns Off Alan Jackson's Gospel Albums

There's a long line of country and country-adjacent artists who've recorded gospel albums, from Red Foley, Loretta Lynn and the Stanley Brothers to Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood. Beyond connecting on a spiritual level with fans of a certain faith, these collections fill the ever-present demand for songs about simpler times back home. After all, most artists featured on these albums grew up singing along to hymns with the local congregation, and many in their audiences have similar ties to gospel music.

A student of country music history, Alan Jackson should know country gospel lore like the back of his hand. He for sure sang many of the selections on Precious Memories (Arista Nashville, 2006) and Precious Memories Volume II (EMI Nashville, 2013) while growing up in Newnan, Ga. and learning the Bible from his mother, Ruth Musick Jackson— the inspiration for Jackson fan-favorite "I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You."

Beyond that added sense of authenticity, Jackson's smooth baritone vocals and Georgia accent relay both earthly wisdom and heavenly hope across renditions of some of the most-sung songs in the church hymnal.

Here are the 10 best country-gospel recordings of the 28 total tracks on Jackson's Precious Memories albums.

10. "In the Garden"

In the country space, "In the Garden" is Dwight Yoakam's song, if only because of his iconic performance of it at Buck Owens' funeral. Jackson deserves runner-up consideration for a recording that plays up his own sensitive and spiritual sides.

9. "Amazing Grace"

Jackson pours his heaven-bound soul into this rendition of one of the most famous songs in the world. It's by far the two albums' streaming hit and has become a go-to for funerals in Jackson's home state.

8. "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

A song about child-like faith, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" should remind listeners of their earliest Sunday School teachers. When sung by Jackson, it merges congregational singing with Don Williams singalongs with the family en route to the lunch buffet.

7. "Softly and Tenderly"

This would've been an invitation song when Jackson was a kid— meaning it was played and sung after the sermon while church members handled their personal business in prayer. In the context of the Precious Memories collection, it slows things down and shifts to the forefront the emotive vocals that drive Jackson's sweetest love songs and secular tales of love and family.

6. "How Great Thou Art"

As is the case with "Softly and Tenderly," "How Great Thou Art" slows down the often upbeat pace of gospel hymns, allowing Jackson's storytelling gifts to shine.

5. "I'll Fly Away"

Jackson's camp meeting-ready performance of this old favorite reminds us that its writer, Albert E. Brumley, has ties to country music history. His son, Tom Brumley, played pedal steel guitar for Owens' Buckaroos.

4. "When We All Get to Heaven"

Church organ opens a recording of "When We All Get to Heaven" that can't be all that different from how it would've sounded in churches when Jackson was a child.

3. "There is Power in the Blood"

Some of the more upbeat songs in your choir director's rotation translate well to bluegrass instrumentation and country harmonies, as heard on this interpretation of "There is Power in the Blood" that starts with precise picking and builds up to a chorus of believers. Jackson's equally soul-stirring versions of "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" prove the same point.

2. "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

Jackson delivered such a gripping rendition of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" for the second installment of Precious Memories that John Berry hesitated to compose his own version with Steve Dorff for 2022's Find My Joy.

1. "The Old Rugged Cross"

Despite the popularity of Jackson's "Amazing Grace" and the power of his countrified take on "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," his finest moment as a gospel singer added extra twang to a hymn synonymous with old country churches.

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