One Voice

Download the song for free on NOISETRADE.

Some time ago my friend, Josh, and I were working with Crossroads Missions in New Orleans. We started talking about song writing and he told me about a chorus he had written that he used during a chapel time with the mission groups that were coming in [which is most of the chorus that is currently in the song].  I loved the focus on unity – especially in the context of the hundreds of churches, mission groups, and denominations working together during the rebuilding phase in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  My intention was to wrap some verses around the chorus and call it finished but it got shelved.  A couple years later I heard a teaching from another friend of mine about the words “hallelujah,” and “amen.” In summary, he stated that these two words were powerful because, in every language they were found across the globe, they meant the same thing: to praise God and to agree together.   I decided to do some of my own research about it and found this:

  • Hallelujah: Halal means to be clamorously foolish in praise and it combined with the name of God -Yahweh.
  • Amen: To agree, in unison, that something is truth.

This idea seemed to work well with the flow of the chorus that Josh wrote so I began to rework the song to incorporate a response with Hallelujah and Amen in the bridge and ending.  I wanted the song to be accessible lyrically and musically catchy so that it would be easy for people to sing in a short amount of time.  I began working out some lyrics for the verses that would help to explain the context of the response and serve as a connector for the chorus and bridge.  The final result became a congregational worship song that proclaims unity among believers and ends with a built-in response for any culture or language that might sing it!

Recently, a friend of mine suffered the loss of his mother.  He mentioned to me, as an encouragement, that the words “hallelujah” and “amen” are even being sung i
n heaven [Rev 19].  He was moved by the thought of his mother singing this song alongside him as we sang it in the services the week following her memorial.

It is exciting and humbling to see our new church community embrace these songs and to watch God use these them to minister to people in celebration and even in pain. I am thankful that God would use ordinary people like Josh and myself to write new songs and to inspire others to find refuge in His name.

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Is Your Message PROPHETIC?

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Timeliness.

In the last couple of weeks I heard three notable quotes about messages, in sermons or worship, being “prophetic.”  Two were from similar backgrounds but one came from a completely different tribe in the evangelical world.  From the more conservative side, Pastor Crawford Lorritts spoke at The Resurgence Conference and, during the Q & A section, he said this:

“Preaching is always prophetic…New Testament preaching is more prophecy to me in the sense of forth-telling…It is a declaration of truth for that moment in history, there is a timeliness about it. Wheras teaching is sort of like the unfolding. There is an urgency associated with biblical preaching and that puts it on the prophetic side.” [He went on to distinguish between this idea of prophecy and the gift of prophecy. I encourage you to see his full interview here so you can see it in full.]

The second quote comes from Beth Croft, a worship leader with Soul Survivor tweeted:

“Prophetic worship… Not necessarily a new song, or even a spontaneous song, simply the right song at the right time.”

The third was from an interview with Brian Johnson [of Bethel Worship] about “prophetic” worship:

“Well, I think anything that has the breath of the Spirit on it.  It could be a rehearsed song or an already written song in the right moment.  A lot of times I think we can get it wrong with thinking that it’s just a spontaneous song and that’s not true…It could be Here I Am To Worship in the right setting…the right timing.”

I wouldn’t try to summarize the “Prophetic” as simply being the right moment but the common factor that I am pointing out here is the timeliness of a given message either by song or by preaching.  I have a strong view of God’s sovereignty and one could argue that any message is always prophetic and I would agree in one sense but there have been moments when a message I’d heard just hit me with a certain…supernatural timeliness.

A Weird Message From God.

A few years ago my wife and I were at a christian concert in New Orleans. We didn’t realize it at the time but concert was for a Catholic youth rally and they just happen to open it up to the public for the concert. During this event an elderly lady sitting a few chairs away from us tapped my wife on the shoulder and said something along the lines of “God wants you know that you are forgiven.”  At the time she mentioned it there was no pressing need for her to hear this so we both kind of dismissed it and thought it was a nice gesture from a weird elderly lady.

Months later we encountered some trials that felt a lot like punishment.  Theologically, I knew God wasn’t punishing us but the message from the little old lady kept coming to mind and became a very real message from God in the face of this particular trial.

Application In My Ministry.

Last weekend I led worship at our worship services.  I had chosen the worship set and was singing through it and listening to God for any adjustments.  The chorus and bridge from Give Us Clean Hands kept coming to mind and I thought it might be added just in case the moment called for it. Soon after the pastor asked me if I could add in a song that he would be mentioning in the sermon.  It worked well and I figured it made more sense than my “inkling” so changed the set and added the one he mentioned.  One service went by and things seemed in line as far as song choices go but the second service there was a line in the sermon that led me back to the Give Us Clean Hands so I sang it even though I had not added the lyrics into the powerpoint.  The combination of both songs really seemed to strike a chord in that service.  I even had a woman come up to me crying and telling me specifically that BOTH of those songs were exactly what she needed in that moment.

In the third service however, I added the lyrics to the powerpoint and led the song just as I did before and, oddly, it didn’t seem to have the same effect as far as I could tell.  I am sure it was beneficial for some while others felt the set went too long in both cases. It’s possible I tried to bridge over one timely moment into an untimely one!  Thankfully there is enough grace in our congregation and leadership to allow for me to make such decision.

Put Up Your Antennae.

Even though I felt a bit of a timing roller coaster in that example, I believe there is merit to putting up your spiritual antennae and listening for a timely [maybe even prophetic] message from God and having the boldness to do what you believe you are being asked to do.

The Ascension | Phil Wickham

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 4.46.23 PMPhil Wickham’s new album is called The Ascension [the date still has yet to be announced].  For all of you graphic designers out there, Phil is asking people to create artwork based on the theme of the new album. You can get info on the video below and here is the chord chart I’ve been using for the song tentatively titled “Always Be Alive.”

ZION | Hillsong United

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Zion began streaming free for a short time today on iTunes and I took some time to give it a good listen [album available now].  The new album by the UNITED guys is as beautiful as it is driving.  Many of the tracks are filled with crystal clean synths [which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone] and drenched with ambient vocals spilling out catchy melodies and lyrics that connect to the listener.  They are delving a little deeper into the ambient, experimental world of electronic blips and atmospheric soundscapes than ever before which I am not complaining about at all.  This album, more than any other, seems influenced by bands like M83, Cut/Copy, and Daft Punk which have been on playlists for years.  You could see it in their previous albums but Hillsong has shed it’s usual U2 gleanings and fully unleashed the space-pop beast that was lying dormant since the 80’s!

I am a fan of Michael Guy Chislett as a guitarist and a producer from his Hillsong participation to his side projects [The Academy Is…and NO].  The producer in him comes to life with the brilliant sonic layering and the conscious [I assume] choice to move more towards the electronica genre instead of a guitar driven album!

There is a new female vocalist, Taya Smith, who has such a strangely interesting tone and style that I was immediately captivated by it.  Her voice has elements of soul with strong phrasing placements and volume dynamics which made her parts stand out powerfully, especially the song Oceans [Where Feet May Fail].

Love Is War stuck out to me as one of the best songs on the album.  It begins with a stream chimes and pads that walks you into a thick wall of synths.  It’s propelling and keeps a steady pace through the rest of the song.  Lyrically it has a desperation of someone who is fighting to cling to God through trials and joining in the fight alongside God.

Personally, the most attractive thing about Hillsong UNITED is their ability to draw a theme together inside of their albums.  It’s almost as if a parade of individual songs is being rallied around a single vision.  Each song has it’s own identity AND has a connection to the greater picture being painted by the album as a whole.  Here is the track listing for the album.

  1. Relentless
  2. Up In Arms
  3. Scandal of Grace
  4. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
  5. Stay and Wait
  6. Mercy Mercy
  7. Love Is War
  8. Nothing Like Your love
  9. Zion (interlude)
  10. Hearbeats
  11. A Million Suns
  12. Tapestry
  13. King of Heaven

O Come O Come Emanuel

Here’s a quick scratch track of my favorite Christmas song.  I created it for our team to learn the arrangement and thought I would share it. Maybe I’ll create a serious Christmas album next year!

Merry Christmas and download or share on Facebook/Twitter if you get a chance.

For A Leader | Aaron Keyes

[Re-blogged from Aaron Keyes.  Check out the original here.]

For the last several months, I’ve been learning about the power of Blessing. There’s been no more helpful aid than a book by the late Irish priest, John O’Donohue. I discovered his book To Bless the Space Between Us a few years ago, and it’s been simmering in my soul ever since.

My all-time favorite Irish worship leader, Eoghan Heaslip, was teaching for our worship school a couple years ago, and he ended his lesson with the following blessing, from O’Donohue. I’ve been meditating on these words ever since. May they take root in you, as they have in me.

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For a Leader
May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the center of things.

May you act not from arrogance but out of service.

May you work on yourself
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue to be a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the old,
And you never become a functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.

-John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)