The heart behind the hype...
Every Hillsong Worship album is an event. No corner of the Christian internet isn’t in some way branded with Hillsong’s signature-in-circle logo; almost no worship service reaches its end without songs like ‘Oceans’ and ‘My Jesus, My Saviour’ making an appearance. Ubiquity, like stadium-sized gatherings, is an unmistakably Hillsong characteristic. If it isn’t big, they aren’t interested - a sentiment that applies as much to serving a big God as it does guiding a big congregation.
Scale such as this leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many. Seeing celebrities up on stage amidst flashy visuals can make the message of Hillsong seem shallow. But, after twenty-six live albums, it’s encouraging to see their passion for God has neither waned nor dulled. Rather, this new release is more driven, purposeful, and prophetic than ever before.
Over twelve monumental songs, There is More chases after God, after His power to transform the Church. No one song on this album, even in its more peaceful moments, can be described as small. Take ‘Who You Say I Am’ for example. Breaking the line between singing and the kind of outright proclamation that would make even the most barrel-chested Town Crier envious, the song calls out with confidence the gospel-truth that being made by God is a fact of life-giving hope. When the lines ‘I’m a child of God / Yes I Am’ are sung out, it’s impossible not to be moved; not to all at once feel secure.
The song itself is a torrent of thankfulness for God. Built upon the verse of John 8:36, ‘Who You Say I Am’ is a perspective-shifting anthem for anyone feeling lost in who they are. The dispossessed, abandoned and rejected will be reminded that they have a home in God. A place they belong.
Picking up the pace, You Are Life is an 80s-pop-infused worship track that hurtles along with catchy synths and drums. As well bursting with an effervescent spirit of joy, ‘You are Life’ moves from thankfulness to light-footed elation with grace. A party song with a purpose.
Special mention for the lyric of the year almost certainly goes to the song Valentine. Shifting the language of romance to a love of God is nothing new: Reckless Love took this to heart, and John Mark McMillan made an early (and memorable) appearance with the cheeky line from ‘How He Loves’ which goes as such: ‘So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss / And my heart turns violently inside of my chest”. And now Hillsong join the ranks of Romance-inspired worship lyrics with:
“To woo us back from death and woe / A valentine to a faithless world”
I don’t think woo-ing has ever made it into a worship song before (but correct me if I’m wrong). Yet, the song is neither trite nor mawkish. It’s a deep song of God’s agape love for us, and our Lover’s-surrender to God. A few tracks later in the album, that romantic-language-for-God’s-love motif returns with Lettered Love. Painting the Bible as God’s love letter to humanity, it is a charming expression of how God’s word offers a way to hope and healing. A real love letter sent from heaven to earth.
A great amount of There is More is also concerned with the relationship between heaven and earth. That moment of encounter. That chance to live in God’s love. Touch of Heaven, The Lord’s Prayer (a glimmering musical version of a well-known passage), and So Will I (100 Billion X) all summon up the reality-changing transformation that comes from God alone.
But what we forget is that transformation is difficult, and often painful. ‘New Wine’, by and far my favourite song, as well as the most challenging, sings of how new wine is made.
“In the crushing, in the pressing / You are making new wine / In the soil, I now surrender / You are breaking new ground”
‘New Wine’ is a song of surrender to God. Total surrender. To be used by God requires allows yourself to be squeezed, to be emptied out, pushed up through the dirt, and given over completely.
There is More doesn’t paint God’s transformation as a shiny coat to drape over your shoulders; it’s a challenge to give yourself up completely to God and let the old self die. In the Bible story which inspired the album, Jacob wrestled with God. Actually wrestled. Fought against the creator of everything. Through a night of conflict and crushing Jacob found himself a new man in the morning light. He was given a new name, a new purpose, and a new identity.
That change is what is sought by Hillsong right now.
The change that can be found when you say ‘Jesus, bring new wine out of me’.
Filled with powerful songs and moving lyrics, There is More reinforces Hillsong Worship’s status as providers of worship music that speaks to the Church today. Even amongst the impressive catalogue of Hillsong Worship releases, There is More stands out as a release that will play a significant role in the lives and faith of millions for years to come.
There is More CD is available for you to order today.
April 6th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon