[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s well as being a writer of the modern worship classics “Mighty to Save” and “God Is Able” (amongst others), Ben Fielding is an integral part of the Hillsong worship team. He took a few moments to reflect on leading worship and give his thoughts on the Hillsong LIVE release, Glorious Ruins.
You have said that you aren’t trying to make one record “better” than the last. So what is your standard for knowing you have succeeded when you have finished a new album?
Worship exists to glorify God. Excellence glorifies an excellent God. The purpose of Hillsong LIVE is to empower worshipers to worship. The songs on Glorious Ruins have been sung across our church globally. From Sydney, through London, Kiev to New York City, these songs have already resonated with thousands of believers, across culture and demographic. The success of Glorious Ruins will be determined by its ability to inspire the kind of passionate and authentic worship that we have already seen right across our church.
The title of Hillsong’s new release is Glorious Ruins. We are all pretty aware how ruins are a difficulty in life that we all encounter; in what way can ruins be something we celebrate?
The story of God is a story of restoration. We find ourselves somewhere in the middle of that story. God, having made all things beautiful, now works in and through us, restoring all things back to that place. What is often declared hopeless, ruined and of no value, is fertile ground for God’s grace and love. From that place, the ruins speak no longer of destitution rather becoming testimony to the glory of God. That is the story of every Christian; it is the story of the people of God; the Church; and it is the hope that awaits all who are yet to encounter Jesus.
The songs of this album speak to that reality; of the sufficiency of Christ (“Christ Is Enough”); the hope we have in God’s promise as an anchor for the soul (“Anchor”); showed most clearly through the death and resurrection of Jesus (“Man of Sorrows”) and tied together in the title track “Glorious Ruins.”
We are seeing that many worship teams in this country are looking to make a worship CD that is filled with the prayers of a local community; what are some good practices when looking to take on such a task? What encouragement do you have for worship leaders attempting such a task?
Songs are always more powerful when they carry personal meaning. The task of every songwriter is to give expression to something real and authentic. Church songwriters have the additional task of ensuring that this personal expression connects with a vast collection of people. We are placing words in the mouths of the Church, so we must write words that are both true and are the very sort of words that our churches have always wanted to sing. We become poets, enabling our churches to say the things they have always wanted to say about and to God, in a way that resonates as if they were singing their own words. There must be an authenticity about our worship. Worship songs exist for the glory of God. It follows that a worship album must exist for the same purpose. We must be careful that in our attempt to be creative we do not neglect the Creator. Songs for our churches must glorify Jesus and should seek to serve the people of our churches. Before setting out to record any album, we need to once again ask what the purpose of doing so is; and then to ensure that this never detracts from the primary task of empowering our church to worship.
Hillsong’s music is designed for a local community, yet it impacts churches around the globe. What is the core of what you do? What is the music of Hillsong and your worship ministry built on?
(In addition to what’s above). Hillsong is a local church. Our church and the worship that flows from it, is built on the name and authority of Jesus and the sacrifice of many faithful people who have taken up their part in his story. The songs that are heard on Hillsong albums are the songs that we sing each week across our church. In that sense, they are tried and tested, giving voice to that which is authentic and relevant. I can’t imagine a day where we no longer feel there is need for a new song, a new way of communicating who God is and what he is doing.
What songs on the new record are blessing your church already/which songs are you particularly excited about?
All of the songs on this record have been tried and tested in our church. They have all played their part in the story.
Every time we sing “Man of Sorrows,” our church cheers as we sing “see the stone us rolled away, behold the empty tomb.” “Man of Sorrows” is one of those incredible songs that will engage our church no matter where it is sung.
“Christ Is Enough” is a song that speaks to the sufficiency of Jesus that demands our response. The first time we sung “Christ Is Enough,” our church sung it as though they had been singing it for years. We have been doing “I have decided” moments in church over the past couple of months, inspired by this song, where someone shares their story of how they came to follow Jesus. It has been so inspiring. (Get the chord chart for “Christ Is Enough” here.)
“Anchor” was written from Hebrews 6. It speaks to the hope that we have in the promise of God. A promise that was sealed with an oath, sworn by the highest name of all, Jesus. This hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. I wrote this song with my good friend Dean Ussher. He and his wife suffered the tragedy of a miscarriage earlier in the year and held onto Hebrews 6 as hope beyond the pain and loss that seemed so overwhelming. The confession of this song is that through Jesus, God has made good on His promise, bringing hope that surpasses all understanding. No matter what we are facing, we can declare that His name is higher, His word is unfailing and His promise is unshakable.