Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: November 30th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- White Christmas
- Auld Lang Syne
Hillsong in all of its 3 facets (Worship, UNITED, Young & Free), need no introduction. If you haven’t heard of them, then you better stop reading this right now, and then check out their discography pronto! You can check out their discographies here, here and here– and you can read about all of our posts on Hillsong Worship, UNITED, and Young and Free in the links here, here and here, and when you’ve finished, you can then read my brother Jon’s Momentous Mondays post about all things Hillsong here! Then, and only then, maybe can gain a bit more perspective and knowledge of the worship movement that’s been around for decades!
Whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not, chances are that you would have maybe definitely (or maybe probably) heard about this previously small Australian church group now turned global megachurch worship movement, spanning 3 incarnations (Worship, UNITED and Young & Free) and counting, plenty of inspiring singles, no 1 top hits on both Christian and mainstream charts and a plethora of studio and live albums. If you don’t know the name of the group, I am sure some songs will be familiar. With the UNITED branch of the worship ministry originating in 1998, we have been blessed to hear so far 11 live albums (inclusive of the recent People) and 5 studio albums (All Of The Above, Aftermath, ZION, Empires and Wonder). With Hillsong being one of the most popular, respected, prolific and inventive worship movements of all time; their music has touched the lives of many locally and globally. Since its inception, this young worship team have carried on the church’s mission and vision to lift the name of Jesus above all others.
Since a while, there’s been several worship leaders from Hillsong releasing solo material. Reuben Morgan did this in the 2000’s with World Through Your Eyes and Everyone, while Darlene Zschech’s discography can be viewed here. Brooke Fraser successfully recorded albums in the mainstream before pivoting to be more present in the Hillsong space (and she is releasing another solo album, this time as Brooke Ligertwood!), while Alexander Pappas unveiled Idaho EP this past month. Now, it’s time for our horizons to be broadened even more. Benjamin Hastings, songwriter and leader of the smash hit “So Will I (100 Billion X)”, and member of both Hillsong Worship and Hillsong UNITED, unveiled his solo debut single not too long ago. A package of 2 songs called “Homeward” and “Faith Is”, Benjamin beautifully and powerfully crafted two melodies of hope and inspiration, which we gave our thoughts here. I’m not sure if this means he is breaking away from Hillsong; but these two songs are extremely good, and these tracks provide us comfort, and are just what we need in light of the last couple of years that we have all faced.
And as you have listened to these songs as well as read about what we as a site think about them, the time has come now as we are this close to Christmas, to check out Benjamin’s 3-song Christmas EP From Seed To Sequoia. Opening with the 1 minute short-but-powerful rendition of the holiday classic “White Christmas”, the haunting, mysterious, and captivating piano ballad brings us into the Christmas spirit, and subtly speaks about the benefits of celebrating Christmas in the northern hemisphere. While “Seasons” itself is a Hillsong Worship original Christmas song from their album The Peace Project, and only contains allusions to Christmas here, as Benjamin powerfully declares that ‘…I know, though the winter is long even richer, the harvest it brings, though my waiting prolongs even greater, Your promise for me like a seed, I believe that my season will come…’, we are met with a vulnerable admission of trust and surrender to Jesus, even though the timing of things that we want in our life aren’t in alignment with God’s timing. And as we come into 2022, and hopefully a better year where everything we hoped and dreamed can come into fruition… we all need to be reminded that every aspect of life is useful. Even the hard times, and even in the winter seasons. And that’s because they help us grow and that’s because they strengthen our faith, or love for each other, our resilience, and our determination. No matter where we are in life, “Seasons” reminds us that the bad times only last a season. Thus we can hold on and rely on god knowing that the brighter days will come. What a comforting melody and an exquisite rendition of one of Hillsong Worship’s most underrated songs. From Seed To Sequoia then ends with “Auld Lang Syne”, the semi-acapella and strings led New Year’s Eve prayer /prophetic declaration of sorts. A melody that is a sort of ‘cheers’ to the year ahead and a hope that things will be better for us all in the face of adversity and hardship, Benjamin ends this short but powerful EP with a track subtly declaring 2022 to be a better year than 2021 and 2020.
With both the songs of “Homeward” and “Faith Is” hopefully firmly placing Benjamin Hastings the solo artist at the forefront of the already stratospheric heights of the US Christian market; Hillsong Worship’s latest album is a joy to listen to, as we are blessed with the immense heart for Jesus of all the vocalists and personnel involved. Even though I do enjoy the Hillsong United albums better than any other counterpart, a few more listens to this collection of songs might reverse my stance. Nevertheless, the megachurch, regardless on your thoughts about the Houston’s, are still a force to be reckoned with, both in CCM and worship. They make the on average 3-4-albums-a-year (in all formats!) aspect work, and if they stick with what they know, then it will definitely work for them in the future! And as for Benjamin’s two solo songs, as well as this Christmas EP, I reckon it’s a breath of fresh air. These tracks are as honest, inspiring and emotional as Hillsong has ever been, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever comes next from Benjamin, be it another solo project or something with any arm of Hillsong. Well done to this humble and young Aussie artist whose ministry is guaranteed to touch many lives!
3 songs to listen to: All of them!
RIYL: Hillsong Young & Free, Chris Tomlin, Brooke Fraser, Tenth Avenue North, Needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors