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Hillsong Worship: ‘There is More to God Than We Can Conceive’

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

When you consider that an estimated 50 million people worldwide sing your songs in any given week, you would think that your music would be heralded and the hallmark for critics near and far.  But this has not been the case for praise and worship stalwarts Hillsong Worship.

With more than 20 million career album sales the Australia-based group had never won a Grammy Award until earlier this year for their chart topping worship anthem, “What a Beautiful Name.”

Fresh from that experience, the highly influential worship band has released their latest full-length album, There is More, a collection of 12 new songs including the first single, “Who You Say I Am”.

I recently spoke with band member Ben Fielding about why Hillsong’s music has had such an impact on people globally, whether great revival is near, and who we really are in the eyes of God.

Before we jump into the new album, congratulations on winning a Grammy for “What a Beautiful Name.”  I believe it is the fastest growing song in modern church history.  Why do you think this song has had such an impact on people?

Firstly, thank you. I love that the song is so unapologetically about Jesus. I think there are so many factors that go into a song that reaches people. I think some of that has to do with a song being honest and meaningful, but a lot has to do with things outside of your control. The grace and mystery of God, and timing. I am certainly grateful for Brooke (Ligertwood) who has carried the song so beautifully and to our church Hillsong for continually backing new songs.

You have been recording and performing music to audiences for more than 20 years yet this was your first Grammy.  Do you believe that this award now validates you with broader audiences? Is it a stepping-stone to an even wider listening base?

The most encouraging stories to come from the Grammys are the number of people who are telling stories of colleagues, family and friends who have listened to the song as a result of the awards…people who would never normally listen to a Christian worship song. I hope that “What a Beautiful Name” communicates that God is passionately pursuing people, that His love covers a multitude of reasons we might suspect disqualify us from it. 

Your band mate Brooke Ligertwood has been quoted as saying about your new album: “There is more at stake than we dare realize – souls, communities, families, nations on the other side of our wrestle through the night seasons. Our personal freedom is for corporate revival. There is more of God, and more to God and His love than we can possible conceive of.” Do you believe great revival is just around the corner?

I think wherever two or more are gathered in the Name of Jesus, or wherever His praise is sounded, that God is present. He is present by His Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. That is the greatest revival in the history of the world. So, I think there is revival around every corner, if we would surrender and open our lives up to God. 

The lead track is “Who You Say I Am.”  What can you tell me about that song?

There are a lot of things and people in this life who will try to tell you WHO YOU ARE… your identity deserves better. What matters most is not what your past; your postcode (zip); your gender; your racial or cultural background; or your marital or employment status says about who you are.  What matters is WHO GOD SAYS YOU ARE! You are loved. You are chosen. You are made in the image of God. God is for you and not against you. You are no longer a slave to sin (the power of sin was destroyed through the death and resurrection of Jesus)…but you are a CHILD OF GOD, a son or a daughter. While a slave might have no permanent place in a family, a son or daughter will belong forever (John 8:35-36).

I wrote this song with Reuben Morgan because I need this reminder (probably too) often…competition for our identity is insidious. So, when you need a reminder of WHO GOD SAYS YOU ARE, these scriptures are powerful:

You are chosen - 1 Thessalonians 1:4

You are called of God - 2 Timothy 1:9

You are being changed into His image - 2 Corinthians 3:18

You are a new creation - 2 Corinthians 5:7

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:19

You are forgiven of all your sins - Ephesians 1:7

You are redeemed from the curse of the law - Galatians 3:14

You are blessed - Galatians 3:9

You are the head and not the tail - Deuteronomy 28:13

You are above and not beneath - Deuteronomy 28:13

You are victorious - Revelation 12:11

You are set free - John 8:31

You are strong in the Lord - Ephesians 6:10

You are healed by His wounds - 1 Peter 2:24

You are free from condemnation - Romans 8:1

You are reconciled to God - 2 Corinthians 5:18

You are joint heirs with Christ - Romans 8:17

You are more than a conqueror - Romans 8:37

You are accepted in Him - Ephesians 1:6

You are complete in Him - Ephesians 2:5

You are dead to sin - Romans 6:2

You are alive with Christ - Ephesians 2:5

You have the mind of Christ - Philippians 2:5

You can do all things in Christ Jesus - Philippians 4:13

You are the light of the world - Matthew 5:14

You are the salt of the earth - Matthew 5:13

You always triumph in Christ - 2 Corinthians 2:14

You are beloved of God - Colossians 3:12

You are one with Christ - John 17:21

You are fearfully and wonderfully made - Psalm 139:14

John 8:34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

What has always impressed me about Hillsong Worship is your willingness to cross-cultural lines and reach out to various nations across the world for maximum global impact.  Case in point, “Who You Say I Am” has been released in 13 languages.  Do you receive different responses to a song depending on what language it is in?  In other words, do you find that your music resonates better in some languages over others?

For many years, we have eventually released various versions of key songs in different languages. But, we are committed to doing this more quickly and comprehensively, as the stories we are hearing about these versions are so compelling. One of our key team members was recently telling us that he could see a spike in digital access to our music in regions under attain by ISIS. Worship is vertical, it is also horizontal (communal) but it is also deeply personal. I love thinking that people could connect with these songs in their primary language. “WHO YOU SAY I AM” is a song about our identity in Christ. In many ways, it is a very personal song so it felt like the right song to start with on this this project. 

Has anything surprised you about the response to There is More?  Is there anything that stands out from the response to the record or the tour that has left you in awe?  If so, what?

I have been encouraged by the initial response. It has been one of, if not, the strongest release we have had to date. The speed with which music travels now is crazy. So, it has been amazing to sing a song that has only been out for a few days and have a room of people start singing along, straight away. Already, the stories starting to come in from the songs is overwhelming.

To follow that up … what has God been teaching you lately? 

We meet so many incredible people. Those who are celebrating the goodness of God, and those who are clinging on to the goodness of God through really difficult circumstances. I met a mother a few nights ago who had recently lost her son tragically. I was encouraged by her courage and resolve. She brought her two daughters along and they collectively chose to seek and worship God. In talking with her daughters, I was so aware that our worship can have a profound impact on those around us.

Final question. What is your greatest hope for the record?

Ephesians 3:20 teaches us that no matter how great our thoughts, hopes or imagination, God is exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond. Our Pastor, Brian Houston has preached this message for years. It is literally a life changing way to think and approach God. Our album coincides with Pastor Brian’s book on the theme (which says it way better than I ever could). I also think of There Is More as a great way to approach our worship. We worship an eternal God. There is always something more to discover and to worship. The deeper we dig, the more we discover He is worthy of our worship, and there is always more.

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