Matt Redman, the writer of such songs as “Blessed Be Your Name” and “10,000 Reasons,” has been a consistent contributor to the magazine and has led worship at multiple NWLCs. We consider him a teacher and a friend. So on the release of his newest collection, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with him and get his thoughts on a few things involving his life and ministry.
What does your ministry look like in England currently? Do you lead at a church?
My family and I are part of St. Peter’s Church in Brighton on the south coast of England. It was an ancient and more or less unused building right in the heart of the city, but a new congregation was planted into it three years ago. It’s been a great adventure, and I love getting to lead some worship there and being part of that family.
Right now I’m just about to go on tour with Rend Collective, an Irish worship band. We’ll be going to eight different U.K. cities. I’m really excited to partner and lead worship each night on tour with them.
Where is one place that you consistently find inspiration?
I collect old hymnbooks and quite often will find something interesting or inspiring in them, which will help with my own songwriting. In fact, this morning I was reading an old congregational church hymnal published a hundred years ago, and it had this brilliant lyric in it, “Prepare new honours for His Name, and songs before unknown.” That was written by Isaac Watts, and finding a line like that never fails to inspire.
Your songs are sung around the world, how do you write in a way that is personal to you yet also speaks for a larger congregation?
I guess the key is that it has to come from a real place in you. Some of the songs which seemed to have connected most like “Blessed Be Your Name” or “You Never Let Go” were the direct result of us trying to sing out a song of trust and use the truth of God as solid ground to stand upon. Even a more recent song like “Never Once” is the same; I wrote it in a time of transition, and it was so helpful for me to write those lyrics to remind myself of God’s track record of faithfulness in my life. But as we wrote that song we also were trying to create the melody and lyrics in a way that other people could use it as a prayer in their own situations and specific circumstances.
You will be at the 2013 Passion conference; what are you expecting to be unique and new about this Passion conference in relation to the ones you have done in the past?
For one thing, it will be bigger! This year we’re planning to remove the curtain in the Georgia Dome and use the whole space.
One thing I love about Passion is that as a team we’ve all been ministering together for over a decade, and every year God breathes something unique and fresh into the mix. As a songwriter, one of my responsibilities is to work hard to see if any new songs emerge in the lead up to the Passion conference. For the last few years we’ve approached this as a team: [Chris] Tomlin gets us all together, Louie [Giglio] puts some themes and ideas on the table, and we retreat together knowing that perhaps God might inspire us to write some of the soundtrack for all those students gathering together.
Your Sing Like Never Before: Essential Collection album comes out November 19. As a songwriter who has had long-term success with many songs, what would you say is the key to writing a song that stands the test of time?
Truth. Anything that’s going to be powerful, meaningful and have the ability to endure is going to based on the unchanging revelation of scripture. You can notice that with the old hymns. For some of them the tune has been changed multiple times, but the lyrics have been passed down through the centuries and still impact us today. The reason is that they’re singing of the God of yesterday, today and forever, whose truth never loses relevance.
How do you find renewal of passion and energy for the ministry you have been a part of for quite some time now?
One of the key factors is teamwork. I’ve found that particularly true in the area of songwriting. Co-writing is such a helpful dynamic because even when you don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, often someone else brings the missing parts. I’ve just been co-writing this week with my Swedish friend Jonas Myrin, who was part of the songs “10,000 Reasons” and “Our God” with me. Creatively it was a really encouraging week, but there’s so much more to it than that. You get to sharpen each other as worshippers of Christ and learn from each other’s songwriting approach.
Any good resources to suggest to young creative minds who desire to serve the Church but may not know where to start?
Perhaps the best advice would follow on from the question above—find a team. Whether it’s leading worship or songwriting or whatever, most things work best in the kingdom of God when we journey together.
Read review of Matt Redman’s Sing Like Never Before here