Hillsong Music Australia
Release Date: April 21st 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- O Praise The Name (Anastasis)
- This I Believe (The Creed) (Radio Version)
- Cornerstone (Studio Version)
- Man Of Sorrows (Live)
- Our Father (Live)
Releasing the deluxe version of their 23rd live album No Other Name in September 2014; one of the most popular, respected, prolific and inventive worship movements of all time- Hillsong Music, frankly need no introduction at all as they have been releasing annual albums since the 90s. They’re the biggest church in Australia; their music touching the lives of many locally and globally. Since its inception, this ever revolving young worship team (now with worship leaders Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith and more), with massive hearts for Jesus, have carried on the church’s mission and vision to lift the name of Jesus above all others. Time and time again the worship movement soars to the top of the Christian charts, and their songs are probably the most sung in churches around the world, even though at times I may roll my eyes at some of their cheesy lyrics.
Releasing live albums very year in July, Hillsong Worship, formerly known as Hillsong Live, are part of the Australian movement that are one of the most popular Christian movement in the CCM and worship market today. With the passionate young group of worship leaders not being afraid to expand and reinvent the worship genre by infusing dance, pop, electronica and worship together; songs like “Mighty to Save”, “Hosanna”, “Scandal Of Grace”, “Search My Heart”, “Cornerstone”, “Hope Of The World”, “Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)” and most recently “Man Of Sorrows” remind me that Hillsong has anointing of the Holy Spirit on their music. This year though, the band are releasing something different- a feature length documentary movie to be released in cinemas sometime in 2015, as well as a companion soundtrack Let Hope Rise. But prior to the album and movie release dates, Hillsong Worship have unveiled O Praise The Name (Anastasis) EP which features their newest hit single, as well as four other fan favourites- a teaser if you will. How does this EP compare to their previous releases? Does this release whet our appetites for the film and upcoming soundtrack? Personally, these five songs on the mini album refreshes and reinvigorates me greatly, as I sing along and worship Jesus, give Him all the honour and glory.
Let’s briefly gloss over and dwell upon the four recognisable melodies. The studio version of the smash hit single “This I Believe” (a personal EP highlight!), superbly led by Matt Crocker, sets the EP up quite nicely, as this guitar led worship anthem, based off the Nicene Creed, and also driven by piano as well, is simple yet effective in its message of stating what we believe and why we believe it! As Matt Crocker fervently sings out that ‘…I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, our God is three in one…’, we are immersed into a vertical worship song bound to impact any who listen. With Matt’s voice brilliant as ever, it’s a nice reminder of our faith and the reason we worship Jesus, without being too flowery and superfluous in the language. “Cornerstone”, deftly sung by Dave Ware, is another sublime effort by the band, with the verses eerily similar to the hymn ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less’. Hillsong Worship have breathed new life into an age old hymn and created a spark that is welcomed. With a new chorus claiming Jesus is the cornerstone; the anthemic big stadium feel through the guitar, keys and drums all chiming in with a God breathed purpose, as well as the rich lyrical content, have made the heart-warming and impacting melody one of my favourites ever from this Aussie band.
Singing this song frequently at the church I attend, it’s nice to see “Man Of Sorrows” present, as the Hillsong Worship invite us into honest and uninhibited worship to our Saviour; as I have come to appreciate the lyrics of the gospel, and the simplicity yet effectiveness of the music. As we are reminded that ‘…now my debt is paid, it is paid in full, by the precious blood that my Jesus spilled, now the curse of sin, has no hold on me, whom the Son sets free oh is free indeed…’, I find myself singing along and agreeing wholeheartedly about this very truth that never changes! “Our Father”, a mid-tempo song driven by light keys and acoustic guitar, and led by newcomer Autumn Hardmann, vocally reminding me of Jaime Jamgochian, Darlene Zschech, and Roma Waterman, is a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer with brand new verses written. To me, this version is just as encouraging as the Bethel Music song of the same name, maybe even more so, and that’s partly due to the passion, heart and soul exuded out from Autumn- it’s clear that she loves Jesus, evident greatly in this vibrant and invigorating melody.
The final song is the brand new “O Praise The Name (Anastasis)” (actually the album opener!), a slow-paced worship ballad reminiscent of a modern hymn, that trades energetic and celebratory guitars and keys like it’s contemporary Hillsong UNITED, for a more subdued reflective tone, as we quietly mediate on the name of Jesus Christ and what it means for us personally. Brilliantly led by Marty Sampson, the epic testimony of how we are all made clean and whole because of the death and resurrection of Christ, we are provided with a vivid account of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the context of the meaning in our lives. As I can picture as if I was there in that moment when Jesus died, feeling that raw emotion and understanding what Jesus went through, I’d say Hillsong Worship has done their job quite well with this new single! Bring on Let Hope Rise, I say!
With O Praise The Name EP creating excitement for the film and soundtrack releasing later this year (at least for me!), Hillsong Worship’s latest EP is a joy to listen to, as we are blessed with a great EP to add to the worship albums this year, and hopefully a stellar upcoming album as well. Even though I do enjoy the Hillsong United albums better than the Live counterparts (really, what is the difference besides a few worship leaders on one and others on the other?); the megachurch is are a force to be reckoned with, both in CCM and worship. They make the 3-4-albums-a-year aspect work, and if they stick with what they know, then it will definitely work for them in the future! Overall these 5 inspiring and encouraging melodies show us the church in its brutal honesty and surrender to Jesus. These tracks are as good as Hillsong have ever been, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the film and soundtrack in the future as well! Well done to this humble Aussie band whose ministry is guaranteed to touch many lives!
3 songs to listen to: O Praise The Name, This I Believe, Man Of Sorrows
RIYL: Planetshakers, Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Young And Free, Desperation Band