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Matt Redman - Let There Be Wonder

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“You can’t have worship without wonder,” says world-renown worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman. “Otherwise, it’s something lesser, like appreciation or adoration. When it comes to true worship, there has to be that element of wonder.” Let There Be Wonder is the GRAMMY®-Award winning songwriter Matt Redman's thirteenth full-length album and fifth live-recorded album. It is a timely offering in a Christian culture that relies on worship music as formative to theology and yet sometimes might perhaps trade in the reverence of God for something lesser. “It seems to me now more than ever that people may be creating their image of God from the songs that we sing – so we can never take the writing and releasing of worship songs lightly,” explains Redman. “There are many elements about our worship expressions I think we do really well, but when it comes to wonder, reverence, mystery and awe…I don’t think we excel at that. I think perhaps it’s hard to excel at that because we live in a culture that can tend to be irreverent and doesn’t always lend itself to wonder.” If worship music is shaping our image of God, then our songs must reflect both his holiness and love, his mercy and majesty, his nearness and mystery. Redman artfully portrays this balanced character of God in his new, 12-song collection. The title track grounds this record in counter-cultural awe, reverence and wonder. Written with producers Jacob Sooter and Josh Silverberg and co-writer Corey Voss, the verse declares, We’re in awe and we fear your name / But we will not be afraid / For the king of all holiness / Is our father and our friend. “That lyric probably sums it up best for me,” says Redman. “Some of the most beautiful encounters people had with God in the Bible are marked both by majesty and mercy…the presence of God always leads to more reverence, never less.” This balance between the “king of all holiness” and “our father and friend” is heard throughout the album and depicted in the cover art—a part of the album process Redman is always intentional about. A striking sketch of a fingerprint and a roaring wave, Redman says when he saw the mock-up, he was struck by the sense of wonder in the micro—the fingerprint—and the macro—the wave. As he says, it represents “your story, your personal walk with God and then remembering you’re caught up in something that is completely beyond your comprehension.” While instilling this macro sense of wonder in worshipers, Let There Be Wonder also points the worshiper back to Christ and the cross. “One theme that shone through so strongly on this record was the name and character and story of Jesus,” says Redman. “I think there’s a need in our society and in church to absolutely name Him, to not just speak generically about who God is but to put a name on Him and to declare it and to say it - to sing the name of Jesus.” The first track and first single on the album, “The Same Jesus,” is an upbeat reminder that our Redeemer lives / He’s still keeping all his promises / The same Jesus. “King Jesus,” written with Jason Ingram and Joel Houston (Hillsong Utd), is, as Redman describes it, “a reverent anthem” that honors Jesus and His name. “Upon Him,” which Redman wrote with English friend Andi Rozier and new co-writing partner John Guerra, contemplates the cross and Jesus’ resurrection using rhythmic and repetitive lyrics: Upon a hill, a perfect Savior / Upon that day, the greatest love / The punishment that should have fallen on us / Upon Him, upon Him. “You’re always trying to find fresh ways to talk about the cross or a fresh angle or fresh window to approach it,” says Redman. “It’s such a central thing that we have to keep revisiting it with new songs.” One cross-related theme that rose to the surface in this Jesus-centric album was repentance—an important yet oft-overlooked part of church and personal faith. Returning to this idea of balance, Redman explains, “We often like songs that will build us up, but sometimes you need those songs that will bring you to your knees.” “Merciful Father,” which he wrote with Pat Barrett (co-writer of “Good Good Father”), and “Send Me, Lord” give the worshiper an opportunity to confess and repent of their sin. Redman says, “In one sense, God is easy to please but He’s hard to satisfy. The simplest act of kindness can please His heart, but at the same time He’s a holy God and has an insatiable appetite for holiness in our lives. And he wants to see us change, and he wants to see us humble ourselves before him, bringing to him the parts of us that are still broken.” This is something Redman has experienced personally in the last couple of years. Since the release of Glory Song in 2017, the songwriter has settled permanently in California with his family, cut back on travel, and had a season focused more on songwriting and his own emotional health. “They say it’s really hard to be spiritually healthy without to some degree being emotionally healthy,” says Redman, who is open about his journey with counseling. The temptation, he points out, is to believe that “once you’re on stage, you’ve got no more work to do. The stage can become a barrier to letting God move in your life. That’s been a huge part of my journey the last few years, trying to deal ruthlessly with my heart and with my life. I had a troublesome childhood that I didn’t really deal with, and in some ways it caught up with me. My lack of emotional capacity was really unhelpful to people I loved, so it was time to take a good look at that. At the end of the day, I don’t want to have areas that are uncovered or that I haven’t let Jesus into.” This humble vulnerability is part of what makes Redman so relatable and his work so relevant. With more than 50 songs to choose from that he’s written in the last two years, he chose the 12 that would connect best with listeners, that honestly spoke to parts of his own story and that would point people to the mercy and majesty of God and the cross of Christ. Perhaps it is his honesty and humility that has made Redman such a brilliant collaborator over the years. Redman is known for having a team mentality in songwriting. Let There Be Wonder has 17 co-writers and collaborators from different streams of the church: Andi Rozier and John Guerra from Vertical Worship, Brian Johnson and Brandon Lake of Bethel Music, Joel Houston from Hillsong, and Australia-based songwriter Mitch Wong, to name a few. The live recording, which took place in October at the Redmans’ home church, Free Chapel in Orange County, was equally collaborative with co-writers singing on stage with Redman and an audience full of worship groups like The Circuit Riders from Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Saddleback Worship, and worship teams from Mariners Church, Harvest, and Calvary Chapel, and others. Redman says one of the best moments of the night was when he brought up Latin and South American-based worship leader Evan Craft, who co-led a Spanish-English bilingual version of the song “We Praise You.”
We sing with all we are, and we claim your victory / Let it rise, let praise arise Proclamaré con todo tu victoria / Te adoraré, te adoraré
“There was a release of joy during that song,” says Redman. It was a moment that reflected the Kingdom of God. As Redman explains, “It’s very easy to look at everything through the lens of just the English language or one type of Western culture, but the deeper and deeper you go into the Kingdom of God, that’s not what it looks like.” This is why as a songwriter Redman believes it’s important to lean “into each other’s cultures, expressions of worship and mix it all up in the Kingdom of God for the glory of God”—a sentiment that echoes this idea of a holy, elevated view of God who transcends denominations and cultures and has been so carefully, intentionally and creatively painted in this new worship collection by one of the most beloved worship leaders of our time. If now more than ever people are creating their image of God based on the songs that they sing, Let There Be Wonder creates an image of a God that inspires wonder, a God who is a father and a friend, yes, but is more than that. As Redman says, “a holy God whose holiness has been known throughout all of history.”   Album story written by Andrea Lucado.    
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