British worship leader Ian Yates releases his highly anticipated fourth album 'Awaken To Love' this month. In this guest blog, Ian takes us through the tracks on his album, song by song...
This song went through a number of versions. I brought a version to a writing session with my friend Nick Herbert. Nick then took the tempo down and then brought the concept of a high wire. We worked on the song over a couple of months in its new state and after about another 5 versions we got this vibe and feel. This song speaks about trusting God in the unknown. As we pursue and go for all we feel God has called us to it can sometimes feel like we are walking a high wire. It's not always easy but we can be assured that God will never let us go.
Great Is The Lord
For about 2 years I had this desire to take the well known words of the psalmist ‘Great is the Lord and he is greatly to be praised’ and try and say it a new way. After DNA I realised a number of the songs didn't translate well to leading in the majority of events I do. I really wanted to have some songs on this record that would work in a church service and I could lead with just acoustic guitar. This is one of them. It’s a simple song of praise with declarations of how awesome our God is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer. Most of the song is taken from scripture.
Some are: Jeremiah 10:6 / Psalm 95:6 / Isaiah 47:4 / Ephesians 2:4 / Psalm 145:8
All You Need Is Love
You may recognise this song. This was a bit of a risk for us. Cover a Beatles song?…
For the last 3 years the chorus of this song has become increasingly profound for me. Very simple, yet very profound. God is love. The gospel is about love. The Fathers love for us. The call to love one another, to love ourselves, to love God as he first loved us. The song fitted everything I felt was on my heart to share and ended up fitting the theme of the album. Feedback so far has been really positive which is very encouraging.
This was born out of a difficult season of questioning and feeling like I couldn’t keep going with music anymore. Yet I felt God speak so strongly to me to dream again. ‘I have given you a unique gifting and message, start to Dream again.’ I began to dream again for my city Liverpool, my songs and that history can be made. With it’s prophetic voice ‘Dream Again’ encourages, inspires and challenges the listener to dream again. To lift up their heart from disappointment, lift up their head from broken dreams and go after all God has called them too. My prayer is that this song is like touch paper and begins to set alight dormant and broken dreams. So many of us lay down our desires and passions through fear, the busyness of life and difficult circumstances. I firmly believe God is telling us to dream again, to see the kingdom of heaven touch earth.
You are unique. You are His child. He has called you for greater things.
Awaken to Love
I'd been contemplating the mystery and paradox of God this last 2 years. The love of God is a huge mystery. Becoming a father and being ruined (in a good way) by how much I love my son I had so many moments when I would feel God saying “If you love your little boy this much, how much more do I love you?” Matthew 7:9-11 is powerful scripture. It says if you being evil would naturally give good things to your children how much more would our heavenly father give us.
How much more does God loves me? How much more does God love all of us? This song is honest, it's vulnerable and it's a deep cry for us to awaken to His love. If we only realised how much God loves humanity. Gods love is so much bigger than any box, logical thinking, understanding. The song is a cry/prayer for God to open our eyes to the reality of His love. That Holy Spirit would lead us every step of our journey.
There is a lot of mystery in life. Why do we suffer, why is the faithful pastor not healed, why do people have miscarriages, why cancer? etc. There is so much mystery in our lives, but one thing is certain - God is love. It's not just a part of his character it's his very nature. If this is our foundation we learn to see things differently.
No Longer I
This song is really special to me. I love the old hymn refrain 'At the cross' I'd been singing it for 3 years spontaneously at different gatherings. It was at an Elim Sound module on the prophetic with Helen Yousaf and Sam Blake, where this song began. It turned out we only had 3 students, but we gave it all we had and we had an incredible 3 days. This song was born in one of the sessions and then we had a worship night with some more students in the evening and Helen was like “sing that new song”, I said, “it's not finished” and she was like “no, sing it”. You don’t really say no to Helen!
We sang it and we knew it was special. I wasn't 100% sure if it was finished and really felt God say send it to Matt Redman. I sent the song to Matt and we worked on it for a while and Matt strengthened the verses and reworked the chorus. Then, after a few months it became a possible song for his album and was then confirmed to be on ‘Unbroken Praise’. It's also on the Elim Sound album - ‘100’. This version is a bit different, with a more electronic vibe and then this huge epic ending. I love the truth in this song, and the stories we've had have been amazing
I had 92 demos for this album. This was one that I thought was cool, but a bit out there. Trev (Producer, 7 Core Music) loved it and I wasn't sure, so tried to rewrite it for months and ended up going back to the original concept. I didn’t just want the song to have a cool vibe, I wanted it to have substance. The song speaks of the father’s love, touching on the prodigal son, but more than that - those on the fringe, those who don't want to be boxed in, those who have been misunderstood.
The song is saying come home, run home, the Father’s arms are open wide. No matter what people (even those with good intentions) have said, the Father is longing for you to come home.
He Has Never Left You
Over the last few years as I dive deeper into this amazing relationship with the Divine, my experience and revelation of God’s love has expanded and continues to blow my mind.
I've not grasped it by any means. The song title sums up the song up. It's simple yet a profound truth. He will never leave us. Many of us don't feel worthy or called, or good enough, but if we are in Christ Jesus we are in union with him. If we feel it or not. We may feel far away but he has never left us. In the wind and rain, in the brokenness he is always with us. My prayer for this song is that it will speak to those who feel far away, who feel jaded and broken. That it would cause them to see that God has never left them. A beautiful thing happened when we started recording this song. It began to rain, like really heavy rain and then the wind started to rise. To the point the microphones started picking it up. As we listened we realised it sounded pretty cool. Plus it matched the lyric in the song. We opened the door and windows and recorded the sounds. We then went back to the guitar after it had died down. A number of close friends have said this is their favourite song on the album
This was one of the last songs to be written. I'd been listening to some big ballads at the time and they inspired the musical direction. A huge drum sound wth lots of reverb is how this track started. I'd had lots of song ideas about hope. This song speaks of the need for a saviour and the need for a healer and there is a hope for us. Jesus!
The bridge has the line. When everything seems broken I know you will fix it. This is our hope. In the brokenness, in the pain, in the suffering we know one who can fix it.
This is a deep song, 11 years ago I went through a divorce. This time in my life shaped a lot of who I am and my journey. In the midst of all the pain God brought me through and blessed me with incredible favour. Over the last couple of years a number of friends in ministry (some very close) have gone through divorce and separation. To see them go through this has been heartbreaking. They all have their own stories. But one in particular was so heartbreaking. This song is for my friends. This song is for anyone going through pain and brokenness. I feel it's straight from the heart of God. It’s what God spoke to me 11 years ago and it is my experience. I know more than ever that these songs can bring hope and change people's lives. My prayer is that we would know that we are not alone. No matter what we face.
I love this song. Again it's about embracing the mystery, the paradox, the difficult questions, the tensions. It's a song of letting go. Letting go of fear, letting go of the old thinking, letting go of fear based mindsets. I'm not waiting for God, I am in Christ, God is with me!
He draws me deeper, deeper into his everlasting love, his vast ocean of love. Some of the metaphor and picture of the song is from songs of Solomon. (4:9 ‘you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes)
I'm all in. I'm diving into the sea of love. I'm saying “God have your way in me”.
Just over 2 years ago I became a Dad. It was incredible. I really felt God speak to me, through the times simply holding my little boy. One time I remember sitting with my son saying you are safe in my arms and the Father saying “yes, you are both safe in my arms”.
The chorus idea came together in a beautiful moment and the rest followed. God is with Is us. He will never leave us or forsake us. No matter what we face He is always with us, holding us. We are safe in his arms.