Capturing the sound of 20,000 worshippers packing out Sydney's Allphones Arena, Hillsong church's newly released worship album resounds with spirit and depth.
Moments of abandon are hemmed in by mellow, reflective spells, building to anthemic proclamations such as "Holy is the Lord revealed before my eyes" and "Great is your faithfulness".
The album's title track "Open Heaven / River Wild", penned by Matthew Crocker and Marty Samson, recalls the Acts chapter 2 description of Pentecost, with lyrics such as "Signs and wonders from above, when you poured out Your Spirit on the old and the young, in the power of Your presence".
Speaking of the album's title, Hillsong's Global Creative Director Cassandra Langton explains, "In Jesus... heaven opens, and in us He stirs a 'River Wild' – a passionate explosive love for God and for the humanity He created"
"As we experience God opening up the heavens, we hear His voice, and we find ourselves face-down on our knees. When faced with an Open Heaven, we cannot remain unchanged — our only response is worship."
"Humble, uninhibited, passionate worship."
"This is the premise of the album and our prayer is that these songs would ignite and stir within you a passion for God and a love for people."
Track-driven arrangements create texture and contribute to a progressive sound that will resonate with mainstream listeners, while retaining all the strength of the Hillsong worship legacy.
Releases of Youtube videos with acoustic breakdowns may follow in the next few weeks after the album's release, helping smaller congregations re-appropriate the sound in a more intimate format.
Hillsong worship aficionados will welcome the return of lauded songwriters Marty Sampson and Brooke Fraser, along with seminal favourites such as Reuben Morgan and Joel Houston.
In the lead-up to recording the album, the Hillsong creative team had a season of carving out space to seek God privately, creating margins of time in otherwise busy weeks. This album may very well lead listeners to create their own space for the supernatural.
Grace Mathew is a Sydney-based writer, graduate of International and Global Studies at the University of Sydney and recipient of Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Award. For contact, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Grace Mathew's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/grace-mathew.html