Capitol Christian Music Group / Hillsong Music Australia
Release Date: September 16th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Hillsong Worship– Team Night (Live) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- That’s the Power (feat. Brooke Ligertwood)
- Clean (+ spontaneous) (feat. TAYA)
- Resurrender (feat. Aodhan King)
- On Repeat / All To Him (feat. Jad Gillies)
- Secret Place / Goodness Of God (feat. Chris Davenport)
- Never Walk Alone (feat. TAYA)
- Waiting Here For You (feat. Jad Gillies)
- Eagle’s Wings (feat. Brooke Ligertwood)
- A Thousand Hallelujahs / I (We) Exalt Thee (feat. Jad Gillies)
- Hope Of The Ages (feat. Jad Gillies)
Here’s an assertion that I reckon is pretty spot on, in my own opinion. Hillsong Church is probably one of the most well-known, popular, inspirational, loved, hated, controversial, and much needed churches/bands/institutions ever. All of these adjectives at the same time, you ask? Well…yes. In short, Hillsong and all of its incarnations have encouraged many, and have angered much more. Yet even as a divisive international entity, the biggest church in Australia still offers so much hope to the world, that it’s hard not to be floored in a good way, and amazed at the group’s musical endeavours. Particularly Hillsong Worship of late, we have “What A Beautiful Name”, “Who You Say I Am”, “King Of Kings”, and more recently “Hope Of The Ages”, each breaking records on radio and changing lives. My brother Jon even wrote about Hillsong on one of his latest Momentous Mondays blog posts a few years ago.
Yet just as early as a couple of years ago (and also well into this year!), Hillsong has been in the news for all the wrong reasons though. In July 2019 I think (I can’t be sure of the exact date!), former worship leader Marty Sampson renounced his faith in Jesus. In response to this unexpected news, John Cooper the frontman of rock band Skillet, wrote a lengthy response to Marty’s admission, which in effect spoke about the importance of placing our faith in Jesus and reading the Word of God rather than looking to worship leaders as the source of all of our truth. As John firmly reminded us all to place our roots in the Bible so that they can’t be shaken…Hillsong stayed silent on this ever-prevalent matter (aside from a generic statement they posted on their website, which I saw back in August 2020, but I can’t find now!). Now I’m not sure if many worship leaders from Hillsong were walking with Marty in his time of need. I’m not even sure if other worship leaders are still walking alongside him and ministering to him. I’m hoping and praying that they are! But I reckon a public statement from the church about all of this wouldn’t do any harm, and it would definitely clear up any speculation about the church’s stance of what Marty has said- once and for all. And though right now you hear nothing from Marty (I think he’s cut himself off from anything to do with church and with Christians), another ‘scandal’ reared its head in late 2021, as Brian Houston is now on trial for concealing evidence back in the 70’s of his father abusing children. Carl Lentz also faced backlash and scrutiny after his affair; while this year as well, there’s a documentary on Disney +, that speaks about the many scandals Hillsong has faced, and painting the church in a negative light. And so, whatever your own views on what is happening right now with Hillsong and their church, in the forefront of the media (and it may be negative, and in that case, I probably wouldn’t blame you!)- there’s no denying that there’s still some impressive music that these guys have released.
It is under these same skies that Christ’s church–His body on earth–exists today. And–though separated by oceans and closed borders–the mission of Hillsong Worship continues under these same skies. One in heart and spirit, unified in mission and cause–to glorify the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to build His Church, and to serve His Church with the new song. We pray and believe that all of our labor sown in faith will mean a harvest for God’s glory, and we pray something that really blesses you and helps you to encounter Jesus in a fresh way in this season.
When I reviewed the Spanish album Hay Mas from these guys, I firmly reiterated that ‘…It isn’t known whether Hillsong Worship will retire (I really don’t think so, and my guess is that they’ll keep going, and eventually phase out older members and introduce newer worship leaders, resulting in eventually a brand-new movement). And it also isn’t known what will happen in the near future- their reputation and brand may hinge upon what they say in response to Marty’s revealing post. However, I think personally that their best is yet to come!…’; nonetheless, I reviewed the live album These Same Skies in November 2021. You can read all about that album here, but the long and short of it was that I found these songs revitalising and refreshing, despite the scandals and the controversy. Considering everything that was going on with Marty, and with the Carl Lentz affair, and with Brian over the past few years, I was hesitant to dive deep into a Hillsong album at great depth- especially last month when I read the press release about the album being released. Even though I knew some songs would be inspiring- I was positive that I wasn’t going to be in the right headspace to listen to something by a worship movement who has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons. Yet one re-listen to the lead single “Hope Of The Ages” (which released in its studio form and was reviewed by Jon here!) and I was hooked. This was yet another reminder from God that These Same Skies is an album that needs to be listened to despite everything that happened to Hillsong the church- and such an album needs to be extensively examined- and we need the separate the artist from the art.
When I say the word ‘Hillsong’… obviously I’m sure some of you may feel hurt from the church. For those of you, I reckon that maybe These Same Skies may not be for you at this time, because it might dredge up old wounds not healed properly. That’s totally ok and a valid feeling and thought to have, and obviously, you may take time to listen to Hillsong again or you may never will. However, this album objectively presents to us promise after promise that God has impressed to us upon our hearts; and if we can set aside for a moment any preconceived ideas we may have about this group, then I firmly believe that These Same Skies will be a powerful and moving worship album that we all might be able to listen to again and again and again. I’ve said this in my review of the live album, and I will say it here again. Sometimes you need to separate the artist from the art; and if we cancelled everyone based on their past transgressions… well, I guess we’d be cancelling everybody!
Fast forward to this year, and here we are presented with Hillsong Worship’s latest live album called Team Night. Releasing today, this 10-song project is the follow up to These Same Skies, but it isn’t really a new album per se. It’s a live album of songs we’ve already heard before. There are songs from Hillsong Worship, songs from Hillsong UNITED, a solo song from Brooke Ligertwood… there’s even some covers recorded as well. Team Night truly is a release that we’ve heard before… but there’s something special about hearing these melodies in a new light, on one recording. “On Repeat”, “Resurrender”, “Secret Place”, “That’s The Power”, “Hope Of The Ages”, even “Waiting Here For You” from Passion, “Eagles’ Wings” from Hillsong back in the 90’s, and “A Thousand Hallelujahs” from Brooke Ligertwood’s solo album from this year; these are all melodies that are powerful, moving, inspiring and worshipful to God. Some of you may not understand why this record was made, when they could have written new songs and sung them instead. Some of you might have wanted these songs, but more ‘radio hits’, and more tracks thus this being sort of like a greatest hits project. But whatever your view on Team Night is, one thing is for certain. These guys are still on fire for Jesus, and they still want to give Him praise. This album may seem a bit all over the place at first; but there is passion and there is a sense of devotion and adoration to Jesus that I admire incredibly. These guys are still worshipping Jesus in the face of adversity and everything that has happened with Hillsong the church. And that is commendable, regardless on your view of the church in general.
If you guys aren’t into Hillsong Worship– then I’d say the studio album Awake is the best place to start. But if you are a fan and are unfazed by the ‘off-field drama’; then Team Night is right up your alley. Personally, every single track is incredible and recorded to perfection (especially the sentimental and nostalgic “Eagles’ Wings”), and essentially every single track on this project is proof of the band’s longevity and their incredible song-writing and worship-leading ability. 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 are still 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! Personally, I reckon “Hope For The Ages” is as good as Hillsong Worship have ever been, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting more future projects in the coming months! Well, I guess now it’s time to re-listen to Awake and There Is More; don’t you reckon?
3 songs to listen to: Hope Of The Ages, Waiting Here For You, Eagle’s Wings
RIYL: Planetshakers, Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Young And Free, The City Harmonic, Elevation Worship, Passion, All Sons And Daughters