Laura Hackett Park’s “Find Me in The Garden” sets a high bar.
- This project does shine a light on a failing in the modern worship industry. Christian Contemporary Music and Modern Worship music often present songs that are far too simple, with unimaginative melodies, and recycled production void of any real creativity.
Find Me in The Garden
Under an overcast sky, Laura Hackett Park drives her nondescript SUV through the quiet suburban neighborhood. She warms up her voice as she pulls into the parking lot weathered and cracked from years of winter cold and summer sun. Taking a deep breath, she whispers a prayer for the energy and strength needed for the next two hours, knowing that God will provide. Stepping out, she slings her canvas backpack over her shoulder and walks to the brown door leading into the International House of Prayer Kansas City.
She does this weekly, playing a two-hour worship set using songs from her new album, which she has sung in her own personal worship for years. She has led worship at IHOPKC countless times, and is more than familiar with the tricky transitions and format of the twenty-four-hour worship and prayer venue. Now she is excited to bring songs from her personal worship time to others.
Since she was a child, Laura has expressed her relationship with the Lord in music. Find Me in The Garden is filled with song’s and meditations from her conversations with God. “Each song carries a story of how meditation and conversation with the Lord around His word and His ways keep me aligned with truth.”
Laura says, “When I feel the Holy Spirit prompt me with a certain phrase or theme, then I write a lot about it because it is my way of processing the revelation.” Putting these promptings to music, Laura uses a spacious instrumental backdrop and gentle vocals to explore themes of mercy, God’s protective grace, and prayer. She mixes acoustic strings and guitars with sweeping synth pads and piano, giving it a meditative quality that’s calming to listen to.
Stand Out Tracks
“I want to be a person so in love with God’s mercy and aware of how much He has forgiven so that I am also a ‘mercy-giver’ that multiplies the love and delight of the Lord around me,” Laura says. This sentiment echoes through the opening track, Mercy. It begins with a soft piano, airy synth pad and Laura’s soothing voice. This sets the tone for the project. The chorus ends in a syncopated, descending motif that brings out the prayerfulness of the song.
On the second track, Find me in The Garden, Laura brings her music theory expertise to bear. The verse moves back and forth from 5/4 to 4/4, giving the song rhythmic hesitancy. The melody then glides smoothly over the top of the modulating times in a way that accents the lyric line. From there, it moves into an extensive bridge. The chorus starts with an eighth note pickup starting a rhythmic mantra of, Find me in the garden. The phrasing echoes hesitant feel in the verse without switching time signatures.
This track is intelligent, thoughtful, and beautifully constructed using smart songwriting rarely seen in christian contemporary music. It sets a high bar for what song writers in the christian sphere should shoot for in creating art that glorifies the creator of our complex and beautiful universe.
The fourth track, The House of God, is from Genesis 28:10-17. It explores Jacob’s experience at Bethel, dreaming of angels ascending and descending from the heavens. Laura brings specific references to Jacob’s previous struggles and then moves into his divine Bethel experience. The chorus harkens back to the heritage of hymns from the past. The lyric, “This must be the house of God, I see the heavens open over me,” is a direct reference to Jacob’s words in Genesis 28:17. The song’s melody and chord construction are very singable and playable, making it a perfect addition to any worship set.
Just as the track Find Me in The Garden sets a high bar for christian art in music, The House of God sets a high bar for modern worship songwriters. With strong biblical references, smart music composition, and accessibility for worship leaders of all levels, I hope this worship song is embraced by the modern church.
Laura has said, “Authentic expression is of utmost importance.” In pursuit of that, Laura and her husband Jonas, who is also a musician, launched an independent label: Arrowhead Music. Find Me in The Garden is produced under this label, giving Laura creative control over the project.
Laura’s tracks are not over saturated with musical elements, which is fitting for her prayerful music style. Centered on her piano playing, the mix brings musical elements in and out with great care. Paring acoustic instruments with airy pads gives the project a prayerful authenticity that reflects Laura’s approach to worship.
She is not afraid of quiet, and uses tonal scarcity to emphasize some of the more powerful lyrics, like at the end of, Nothing Left to Prove. That being said, Laura is not afraid to bring a full sound, as heard in the third chorus of the sweet and poignant Stay Lowly.
Find Me in The Garden has a lot to offer anyone wanting a prayerful, meditative musical experience. Not all songs are as accessible for corporate worship since some more so reflect Laura’s personal spiritual experience, The House of God being a notable exception.
This project does shine a light on a failing in the modern worship industry. Christian Contemporary Music and Modern Worship music often present songs that are far too simple, with unimaginative melodies, and recycled production void of any real creativity. Find me in The Garden shows it need not be that way, and should not be that way. Perhaps it’s because Laura creates under an independent label without the strictures larger music labels demand. Her offering is truly refreshing. As seen in the parable of the talents, Laura does not bury her one talent in the ground, but multiplies her ten talents to the glory of God.
Keep writing and producing Laura. The industry needs more offerings like this.
The project could use more songs.
Worship Team Devotional with Laura
More by Christopher Watson
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Christopher Watson is an author of six books, both fiction and non-fiction. He is also a musician and composer with a B.A. in Music from Azusa Pacific University. For several years Christopher led worship at The Springs Church while attending Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas Texas. He's been involved with worship in a number of churches in California and the Pacific Northwest both as a musician and in production and technology. Now he lives and writes in Washington State with his amazing wife, wonderful daughters, and highly intelligent dog, Ellie Mae.