Listen to the new album from ‎Jekalyn Carr!
Listen to the new album from ‎Jekalyn Carr!

JFH Staff Blog | August 2020

Friday, August 28, 2020

Q&A with Hillsong Young & Free

 

Q&A with Hillsong Young & Free

 

1.     ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS is the new album title. Tell us about the meaning behind it. (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

All of My Best Friends is a project born out of collaboration, unity and seeking to express the raw, bright-eyed passion of our youth group. Capturing the uninhibited feeling of discovering the love of Jesus. The album is a reminder that we are all connected to each other, and when we approach our faith knowing this, we are better models of Jesus.

 

2.     Tell us about the album’s focus track single, "Best Friends." Where did the idea or concept of the song come from, and what is the key take-away message for listeners? (Karina Savage)

 

When we wrote “Best Friends,” we already had over 50 demos that the team had written collectively. We were looking for something outside the box. We started playing some chords and decided to write a brutish punk rock song, cause why not? We didn’t think it would ever be used on the album. Josh Grimmet had the original idea around “Best Friends” and it just grew from there. There’s so much young people deal with when it comes to social media and we know that they are done with the superficial hunger for truth. That’s definitely the biggest takeaway, that society can often try to push things on us as young people, but the real truth comes from God.

 

3.     What was the significance to you to be able to capture live recordings on the album during Summer Camp in Sydney Australia? What was that experience like? (Alex Epa Iosefa)

 

Summer camps have been monumental since I was 12 years old coming into our church. The time where I experienced God in a radical way, put time aside to focus on my relationship with the Lord, felt called for the first time, and created long lasting memories. So for me, letting the world in on experiencing our youth ministry go after God in its most raw elements, felt like a no brainer. And, it didn’t disappoint! It felt raw, authentic, fresh - a real stake in the ground for our youth ministry and songs that we needed for a time like this.

 

4.     What are some of your favorite songs on the compilation? Why? (Jack McGrath)

 

This is a super tough question to answer. I would have to say, “World Outside Your Window,” “Uncomplicated” and “Glimpse.” It’s still so crazy to me how these songs were recorded back in January, yet, the message behind them is so needed for what the world is going through right now. “Uncomplicated” takes you right back to the essence of the Gospel, and what was captured on the night we recorded it was so special. “Glimpse” is just a really fun song…easy to listen to, and the lyrics are so powerful.

 

5.     Hillsong’s music has influenced millions of people around the globe. What type of weight does this responsibility bear on Y&F and how has it influenced what you do?

(Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

Wow! SO much…Ha-ha. It’s a whole lot of responsibility and we pray that we never take it for granted. To think that our church has been reaching people with timeless songs of worship since before some of us could talk is seriously mind blowing. We have this old saying, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” It may sound cliché but it’s true. We have incredible spiritual giants that have gone before us and we feel so grateful that we get to be beneficiaries of what was pioneered all those years ago. So, with that epic legacy comes a certain weight of responsibility on us. Before we started writing for this album, I think we felt it the most. We had questions like...‘what if the songs don’t come?’ and ‘what if we think they’re awesome but they fall flat when we introduce them at youth?’ There were a lot of what ifs. And, because we’re human and we’re creatives, the process of diving into the deep end of a new project was daunting. But, we knew we ultimately had to surrender that humanity and creativity in trust to God, believing that He would take our worship and breathe on it anew.

 

6.     How do you hope your music impacts this generation as young artists creating for young people? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

I think our greatest hope for our music is that young people, whatever their background, circumstance or belief, would know that there is a purpose for their life. That there is more to life than what we see and that they’re not alone and never have been. Being a young person in the 21st century isn’t easy and it’s becoming increasingly more complicated to navigate the world around us. We pray that the music we make and the example of our lives would encourage and uplift young people everywhere.

7.     Musically, how does ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS differ from prior Y&F releases? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

In making this album, we wanted to be intentional with bringing something new that was still ‘us.’ We decided to move away from the heavy electronic influences that we’re known for, but still include the best parts of all the sonic genres - new and old that we love as a band. On this record, you’ll hear more hero-ing of instruments, in particular electric guitar doing the heavy lifting on songs like “Best Friends,” “Never Have I Ever” and “Indescribable”. Also, we have voices on songs that haven’t been heard on previous releases. You’ll hear Josh Grimmett from Hillsong London who brought a real freshness to the collaboration space and sings the lead on “World Outside Your Window,” a driving anthem with UK pop influences. We find with more writers in the writing process, the more varied genres we’re inspired from. On All of My Best Friends, you’ll hear inspiration from punk rock, 2000’s dance, Caribbean beats, country, gospel and R’n’B. We’re really proud to present our interpretation of what pop in 2020 sounds like.

 

8.     Community and connection look a bit different in our world right now in light of the recent pandemic. What are some ways that you hope Y&F’s music can bring people together, particularly the youth? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

It’s incredible how music can bring people together. We experienced that in a really special way on the night of the recording. And as much as we miss being together in a room singing all at once and with no real way of replicating that digitally, I think we’ve needed to remind ourselves that the power of the music isn’t in the gathering or even in the singing but it’s in people being unified, with one heart, one mind, one focus - Jesus. It’s when we’re all moving toward the one who created us, and in that pursuit, where whatever we’re facing comes into perspective. We hope with the purest intentions that our music can be a vehicle to align us again, with what really matters in this season.

 

9.     What are some unique and creative ways Y&F is staying engaged with teens/young adults during these times? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

It’s been a process of innovating and thinking outside the box for sure. We’ve pioneered an online youth program that streams live on air every Friday night from Sydney, Australia. We stream praise and worship, have fun segments, special guests, and share around the Bible all while interacting with a live chat audience. Each week, we have people joining in from all around the world and have even been able to equip other youth ministries with a program to tune into with their young people. It was overwhelming at first to think how we would pull it off but there’s a dedicated team behind the scenes making it come to life and we are seeing the fruit of it in young people finding real community.

 

10.  Talk about how important it is to cultivate a space, especially with youth/young adults, where everyone belongs. (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

Yes, such a great question. It’s sounds so simple and obvious, but no one wants to be in an environment where they aren’t welcome and no one can fulfil their full potential if they aren’t loved, included and inspired. For all of us in Y&F, we’re doing what we do today because we found family in a youth ministry that loved and championed us - uniquely. The fact that we come from all different backgrounds and have different gifts, personalities and ways of looking at the world, is testament to the type of space that was created for us to thrive and find belonging. There’s sometimes a danger in wanting to reach as many people as possible and wanting to be as inclusive as possible in that we can try the one-size fits all approach to ministering. But I think valuing every person for who they are and calling out the potential that lies within them will never lead us astray.

 

11.  Why do you believe worship has become one of the most popular types of music (in and outside of the church today), and how is Y&F reinventing the genre? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

As young people part of a youth ministry, one thing we’ve noticed is that more and more people are open and curious about spirituality. By looking at what Kanye West has created with Sunday Service and other celebrities like Justin Bieber expressing his faith publicly by getting baptised and sharing it with his following, there’s seems to be a kind of shift happening in our culture where all kinds of people are seeking out what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We can’t speak for worship music as a whole, but for us, we think people are gravitating towards the message of Jesus either consciously or unconsciously because there’s really no substitute for the presence of God and at the very least, it makes them feel good. Young & Free has always been about reaching young people with music that we’d be proud to put on in the car and show our friends, so there’s a responsibility we feel to bring a new expression to what traditional worship music sounds like. And so that looks like taking risks and trying things no one else has attempted. The lyrics of “Best Friends” are a great example of us exploring to the very ends of what worship music sounds like, and that’s a really exciting place to find ourselves in.

 

12.  What’s your vision for ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS and what do you hope it brings to those who hear it? (Melodie Mezieres-Wagner)

Our hope and prayer for this album is that even though we are going through such an unprecedented time that these songs would give young people words and prayers when they may not know exactly what to say. We pray that these songs would be an encouragement through hard times. These songs were written far before the crazy times that we’re going through right now, but we truly believe that these lyrics were directed by God.

13.  Is there anything else you want listeners to know about the upcoming album and other plans on the horizon for Y&F? (Laura Toggs)

We never could have imagined the turn of events that would follow the recording of this album and yet it is full of relevant songs that bring joy and perspective in the midst of uncertain times. I am so proud of that. Y&F will continue to inspire people towards hope in Jesus and create anthems that young people everywhere can run with. Hopefully we will be able to tour soon but we’ll just take it as it comes.

 

GRAMMY® nominated Hillsong Young & Free’s fourth career album “ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS” is available worldwide today. The new compilation features 20 newly-penned songs (13 live performance tracks and seven studio recordings), including the group’s breakout single “Best Friends” which peaked at #1 on the Hot AC chart and remains the highest audio debut of any Hillsong track with more than 7.8 MILLION global streams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

You Hold the World / Lockdown LP by Olly Knight

 

My name is Olly Knight, I'm a worship leader and songwriter based in Canterbury, Kent. Lockdown started in March and all my music work at conferences and photography work just vanished.

I started worshipping, singing and writing songs like never before! I’d write a new song pretty much every day.

At the same time I also started something on Facebook Live called “Come and Sing with me” I’d lead worship on weekday mornings and many people were gathering to worship online with me. Lots of people gave to me and my family to support us financially through the lockdown too.

At this same time my friends Jonny, Steve and Tom had lost all their work in the music industry because of the pandemic and I wanted to bless my friends as I'd been blessed myself. I decided to record an album of the songs I'd written in lockdown and employ the three of them to work on the album with me. We launched a Kickstarter campaign for people to pledge money towards the album. We set a target of 30 days to raise £4500. Within 14 hours we'd reached that target! I said if we got to £10,000 by the end of the 30 days I’d do an Irish dance on Facebook Live (thinking we’d never make it to that target) It turns out we got to £10,300… (I was sore for a few days afterwards). We recorded and mixed the album in June, got it mastered in July and then on 14th August 2020 “You Hold the World / Lockdown LP” was released to the world!

One of the hardest things during lockdown has been not being able to gather to sing together with other believers. There are a couple of songs on the album that center around this theme. My prayer is that God would minister to people through these songs and despite us not being able to meet together to sing HIS CHURCH WOULD STILL BE SINGING in their homes.

One of the things I've been wanting to sing about a lot and it comes up again and again on the album is the return of Jesus and how our hope is in Him returning to remake the earth and that we'll dwell with him forever free from disease, sin and sadness. My prayer is that people who don’t know Jesus would hear the album, desire that future hope that Jesus offers and begin a journey of following Him!

This album has been an amazing adventure! I hope it encourages you as you listen to it!

-Olly Knight

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Victor by Jasmine Higgins of Life UNLTD

 

As I reflect back on the day where our first piece of “not so good news” was delivered to us, I am reminded just how far God has brought myself and my family on our journey and truly how good God is and continues to be to us.

Some may speak of our journey as one of healing and restoration, however, I see it more as one of growth and intimacy with Jesus. Jesus is always with us and His desire for us in the trials and triumphs is that we would not only draw close to Him, but that we would expect to feel His presence and His power at work in our lives!

In June 2017, my husband Matt was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The calmness and peace that Matt delivered the news to me with was almost unbelievable and could only have come from Jesus. 

We prayed for him continuously and believed God for a miracle. We praised Him and cried out to Him. My husband wasn’t healed miraculously from the cancer, but God worked through our doctors. He had half of his thyroid removed and didn't require any further treatment. Praise God!

In March 2018, we were expecting our 2nd child. The pregnancy was tracking along perfectly until we received news at our 20 week scan that our little boy may have down syndrome and that I would need to undergo further testing to find out more.

We believe that children are a gift from God and we decided that regardless of our son's “medical discoveries” that we would praise Him for the miracle of a child!

To be completely honest and vulnerable, I was terrified. I felt initial sadness and loss of what might be a “conventional” childhood for my boy. I was afraid of how people would perceive me and my family and I was overwhelmed with insecurity and fear. Some days, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.

It’s okay to experience these emotions, but it’s not God’s plan for us to stay there. 

My husband spoke the name Josiah over our boy. Josiah means “The Lord has healed”. We spoke healing, life and victory over him. We began to declare the victory of Jesus over our little boy. 

After an advanced test at our hospital we received news that Josiah was well and did not have down syndrome. We praised God for answered prayer!

Then, in April 2018, after experiencing debilitating pain in my leg whilst still pregnant, I was told that it was due to a tumour growing in my upper thigh. Unfortunately, my first response was not faith in this moment. It was fear and sadness. I reached out to friends and family and prayed that Jesus would help hold my head up and give me strength. 

I received this scripture from one of my pastors during this time...

“Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” - 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

Although I felt afraid and unsure of what the future held, I also knew that God was in this with me. That He is victorious and good! I began to write down what God was speaking to me about. I couldn’t move much from the pain of the tumour but I was able to sing, write and declare the victory of Jesus. And that’s where the song “The Victor” started. 

I received miraculous news in August 2018 that the tumour in my leg had dissipated without explanation. What felt like the scariest and most out of control 18 months of my life, I now reflect on being the season that I heard from God the most. It is the closest and most aware I have been of His presence and I am so thankful and grateful for his whispered words to me in my weakness. 

Jesus is loving, patient, kind, generous and close. He is always available and always willing to speak victory over our lives. We don’t go through trials alone and we don’t face challenges without Jesus being right beside us. 

I pray that wherever you are in your walk today, whether you're standing on the mountain top or in the deepest valley, that God would be real to you and that you would feel his presence and believe His victory over you. 

Fix your eyes on hope and stand and watch as your SAVIOR is the VICTOR!

Jasmine Higgins
Life UNLTD

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Life UNLTD's new single "The Victor (Live)" is available now. The single was released as a part of their latest EP with 4 songs from their debut live album, coming September 2020. Life UNLTD seeks to write songs that reflect the heartbeat of the Church, and exalt the name of Jesus and His great love. You can listen to their music through all major music platforms.

 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

'Abide in Me' by Andrew Marcus

ABIDE IN ME

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have constantly been encouraged to socially distance ourselves from family, friends and loved ones. We’ve been reminded with signs entering any store or restaurant, we’ve seen illustrations all over the ground with arrows pointing us to the appropriate direction of traffic flow, and I’ve even seen illustrations of eagles and bears in park entrances showing wingspans and lengths reiterating the fact that we must stay 6 feet apart. I recently went on a nice walk with my family and on one particularly narrow trail, it suddenly turned into a one way path to avoid breaking this rule we’ve been reminded of over and over again for months. In the midst of these constant reminders, God has been reminding me of something as well.

As we continue to socially distance ourselves from others, God continues to do the opposite. He draws near.

God draws near to us daily, and it is up to us to either distance ourselves, or draw near to Him. In John 15, we see what happens in our lives when we abide in Jesus, and we see what happens when we don’t.

John 15:1-12
The Vine and the Branches

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

So what happens when we do not abide in Jesus?

Jesus says in verse 6 that, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

During the busyness of prepping for Easter services last year, this passage of Scripture became more real to me than ever before. After one of our pastors shared this exact passage during our week of prayer leading up to Easter, it hit me that night as I lay in bed restless, that I have not been abiding in Christ. This tends to happen naturally every Easter and Christmas if I am not careful. With the relentless pursuit of organizing services, teams, songs, rehearsals and overseeing how we will visually share the Gospel, I quickly find myself feeling like a branch that is withering away. I get so bombarded with the ‘to do list’ that I fail to observe and acknowledge the fact that Christ is present with me and drawing near to me in the midst of the chaos.

When we do not abide in Christ, we wither away and it becomes evident to not only us but everyone around us that we have not been receiving the proper nourishment we need to bear fruit.

After hours of trying to fall asleep that night, I got out of bed and went downstairs to pray (with the accompaniment of my guitar). It was in that moment where I heard the song “Abide in Me” sung over me. Now, I am very reluctant to say that God gave me this song and that I heard him sing it over me. I’ve had many artists tell me God gave them songs and when I listened to them my first response was, “well you better give it back.” “Maybe he wasn’t finished writing it?” Or quite honestly, “Don’t you dare blame God for this!” All that being said, I cling to Zephaniah 3:17 that declares that God is present, that he quiets me with his love and that he “rejoices over me with singing.”

That night I feel like I heard the song He was singing over me. In that moment my soul was realigned, and I found myself exactly where I needed to be: at His feet.

What does it look like to abide in Jesus?

In verse 10, we get a glimpse of what this looks like. Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” What are the commandments Jesus is referring to in this moment?

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

I believe that first commandment is the foundation of the second. When we love God with all our hearts, souls and our minds, that overflows into loving our neighbours as ourselves. Everything stems from this love. When we love God, we observe his leading, acknowledge his presence and obey his commands.

What happens in us and through us when we abide in Jesus?

We see the fruit of love displayed in our lives. This fruit is a testimony to the world around us that we are connected to the Vine.

Love is not the only fruit that grows on us as simple branches when we are connected to the Vine. Jesus says in verse 12, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” So we also receive Joy! Not just a temporary joy, a complete joy!

Thinking about the love and joy we receive when we are connected to the Vine makes me think of Galatians 5:22 where the apostle Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Without being connected to the Vine, we have no nourishment to bear fruit.

I encourage you today wherever you are at to realign your heart to His. I pray you can have a moment just sitting at his feet. Not doing anything, just being. Acknowledge that he is present with you in whatever situation you find yourself. Observe the reality that he has led you to this place and that he will continue to lead you to the next place he has in store for you. Obey his command to love Him and love your neighbour as yourself.

So, as we keep hearing that we must stay 6 feet away from those outside our bubbles, know that Jesus is in your bubble, drawing you closer and closer to Himself. Social distancing does not apply to the Lord, so rest at His feet and Abide in Him today.

-- Andrew Marcus

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Andrew Marcus's new single "Abide in Me" is available now. With six critically acclaimed recordings to his credit, including his BEC RECORDINGS debut album Constant featuring writing and vocal collaborations with Leeland and Paul Baloche, Marcus continues to write powerful prayers to encourage his local church community in Canada.