Songwriting Masterclass With Matt Redman: Writing Truth
What truth needs to be written and sung throughout churches at this point of time in history?
Such a great question, and I’m sure many others are wondering a similar thing. I think you submitted your question before the whole Covid-19 situation was quite so alarming—so I think more than ever now it’s a relevant thing for us to ask.
Remember To Ask
I often like to ask Church leaders I respect, “What themes are we not singing that we should be singing about?” I remember sending out letters to dozens of leaders about a decade ago, asking this…and the most prominent theme that came back was that we were under-singing the theme of the Trinitarian nature of God in our current worship songs. They asked for more songs that affirmed and celebrated that we worship One God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. More recently, I asked my 84-year-old evangelist friend (and hero) Luis Palau the same question. He urged me—and others—to think about pointing to the fact Christ will return in our songs (incidentally, I didn’t manage a whole song on this theme yet, but the new album Let There Be Wonder contains three songs that at least include this theme a little).
Now’s Necessary Truth
But back to the current times we’re living in, and the unprecedented moment with the Covid-19 situation, I would think it compels us to sing very definitely about some very specific themes. There is so much uncertainty in the air, so it’s a good moment to sing of Christ as the solid rock and our firm foundation. There is fear in many people’s hearts, so it’s a great moment to sing about the peace of God, which passes all of our human understanding. There is a lot of anxiety about where this will all lead, so it’s a good moment to be reminded of the sovereignty of God over our lives, and indeed over the whole earth. In the simple and yet not shallow words of the classic old song, He truly does have “the whole world in His hands.”
Speak To The Culture
There’s a call for worship leaders—and our worship songs—to be prophetic. By that, I mean we are called to bring words into the arena of worship that speak powerfully into the current moment…and reveal Jesus. I‘ve heard it said it is almost like the role of the bard in culture a few hundred years ago, where they would sing into the moment, reflecting what was going on around them in the world or in their community. Their songs were not divorced from the realities people faced in their everyday lives. Charles Wesley would do this. On one occasion, after a minor earthquake, he wrote no less than 17 hymns, all around the theme of the eternal, unshakable, unchangeable nature of God, and the frail, temporary, shakable nature of the world in which we live. The good news is, as worshipers of Jesus, we have a remedy and a truth for every circumstance in life. No matter what is happening in this world, in Christ we always have a powerful, important and relevant truth to respond with.
In these times, it seems that “anything that can be shaken will be shaken” and then, in the word of Hebrews 12:27, “the unshakable will remain.” So many of our usual comforts and systems and ways of life are being shaken up, and we are left looking for that which is steadfast, unshakable, durable and certain. In these days, let’s be looking for, and writing, songs that lead us to this comforting and emboldening place of hope in Christ.
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Matt Redman is a GRAMMY®-Award winning worship leader and songwriter who has been a leading contributor to the global Church’s songbook over the last twenty years. His journey as a worship leader and songwriter has taken him to countries such as South Africa, Japan, India, Australia and the Czech Republic. Along the way he has sung in venues such as Madison Square Garden, Wembley stadium, and the Royal Albert Hall - as well as recording in iconic studios such as Abbey Road in London and Capitol Records in LA. Matt Redman’s best songs include The Heart of Worship, Blessed Be Your Name, Our God - and the double-Grammy winning 10,000 Reasons. More recent co-writes include Do It Again and Build my Life. Beyond music, he is an author and also launched a successful podcast in 2021, ‘Redman & Riddle’, which he co-hosts with worship artist Jeremy Riddle. He recently announced his fourteenth full-length album, set to release in mid-2023, which is introduced by debut single ‘Son of Suffering’. Originally from England, Matt Redman now resides in California with his wife Beth and their five children.