Style: Nineteen of this Swedish quartet's best-known songs, spanning its entire career.
Worldview: That one sure-fire recipe for enduring pop is the meeting of two men with an uncommon talent for composing, arranging, and producing (Benny and Bjorn) and two women with an uncommon talent for singing (Agnetha and Frida).
Overall quality: Originally released in 1992, this sextuple-platinum compilation fully deserves the second push it's getting in the wake of the success of the Mamma Mia! film, where these songs are performed in significantly inferior versions.
Style: Thirty "Ultimate Power Anthems of the Christian Faith" (the subtitle).
Worldview: That "There Is a God" (33Miles), that "God Is in Control" (Twila Paris), that he is an "Awesome God" (Rich Mullins) and a "God of Wonders" (Paul Baloche), and that "We Shall Behold Him" (Sandi Patty) and "Rise Again" (Dallas Holm).
Overall quality: Let no one ever again gainsay the production values of CCM, the talent and passion of its writers and performers, or their ability to "cross over" (Michael W. Smith, Bob Carlisle, Chris Rice).
Style: Schultz's 2006 CCM bestseller, now with four extra songs and an informative, multipurpose DVD.
Worldview: "Lord, you are . . . the Living One, the holy Lamb, / the Son of God, the Son of Man, / who always is, who always was, / who's always gonna be" ("Lord You Are").
Overall quality: Schultz writes and sings intelligently and with attention to both detail and nuance; nevertheless, the high point is his cover of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and Vanessa Carlton beat him to the "1,000 Miles" concept.
Style: Sixteen of this American band's best-known songs, from its beginnings in progressive rock to its dissolution in anthemic mush.
Worldview: That 15 million people and counting, at least some of whom no doubt complain about the high price of gasoline, are perfectly willing to pay to hear rhyming clichés set to bombastic music.
Overall quality: Guaranteed to push the guilty-pleasure buttons of those who had no choice but to grow up when these meaning-resistant artifacts were turning the alchemical trick of changing dross into gold and platinum.
For Christians with ears to hear the sacred music of, say, Bach, Stravinsky, Thomas Tallis, or Orlando Gibbons, the 30 "Ultimate Power Anthems of the Christian Faith" contained on the "Platinum Edition" of Time Life's I Can Only Imagine may seem more suited to those who "have need of milk" than to those who have need of "strong meat." The melodies and arrangements go down easily, the lyrics require little or no sophistication to absorb, and anyone who can carry a tune in a pail can sing along.
Like milk the songs possess basic nutrients. The sentiments are often recognizably orthodox if not literally scriptural, and the performers' talent or passion is usually enough to inspire admiration, if not quite awe, for the God in whose mind they had their origin. Let it only be noted that those who, by nature or by nurture, are lactose intolerant need anthems too-and that man doth not live by milk alone.