Resound Worship have just released 'Doxecology', a unique album of worship songs on themes of ecology. Louder Than The Music chatted extensively to the team behind this album to find out more about the themes it explores and why it's so important for Christians to understand this message.
Resound Worship have just released a new album called Doxecology - this is a very unique album, tell us why?
It's an album of contemporary congregational worship songs on ecological themes. We're fairly sure that's unique! Songs that celebrate creation, that worship with creation, that lament alongside a groaning creation and acknowledge our failures, and songs that speak of our hope for a renewed and restored creation. We're pretty sure it hasn't been done before, but we felt these were all things that needed to be sung, so we gave it our best shot!
Why was it important to you to explore some of these themes on this album?
I think firstly because what sing really does shape what we believe. If we only ever sing about a narrow range of themes on a Sunday then we gradually come to think those are the only important things, to us or to God. And secondly because there is a real ecological crisis facing us, and caring for this planet God has given us is a vital outworking of our love for him. Like many, we've been all been gradually changing our lifestyles outside the church building, but singing the same things inside. So we wanted to reframe the narrative, to humble ourselves and seek Gods mercy, and to do so in the context of a clear Christian hope for the future. Our mission is God's mission, we partner with him and he ensures our labour is not in vain.
What sort of reaction have you been getting from these songs?
We've never known a buzz like it before an album release. There's a definite hunger for these songs, from people who've shared our experience of this disconnect between our gathered worship and our lives of worship. We've also been so thrilled that many NGOs and Christian environmenal agencies have got hold of it and shared it enthusiastically with their followers and supporters. Every now and again you try something and the reaction to it tells you you've made the right choice. This is one of those times. We're hugely blessed to know that we're making even a small contribution to the cause of those who are working so tireless for the good the of the earth and all its inhabitants.
If you had to pick out some of the highlights from the album, which tracks really stand out for you?
It's hard to look past the Motown vibes of 'We Are the Tenants of the King' and the infectious melodies of 'Let All Creation Sing'. Because we're not a band, we're just a group of writers, we have a lot of freedom on a record to draw on different styles and sounds, and to feature a variety of vocalists. We were thrilled to involve Silla Mosely and Paul Zach (who co-wrote as well) on those two. But perhaps the two that move me the most are 'Nature Shines With Beauty' and 'Hear the Song of Our Lament'. The first describes in poetic simplicity, with an evocative soundscape, the remarkable truth from Romans 8 that though creation is groaning because of our failures it also looks to us as heralds of hope and redemption. The second is a true lament that is earthy and gritty and deeply challenging. Its easy to weep tears of all kinds with those two.
There are many different contributors on the album, tell us about some of the people involved?
We have a team of songwriters based around the UK, most of whom are worship leaders or pastors in their churches. We tend to keep a fairly low profile as individuals and just try to let the songs speak for themselves. But for this album we opened things up a bit to invite songs from all over. Keiko Ying is a writer of the highest calibre who we've got to know over the last two years and she contributed the lament song, and another pair from the US - Paul Zach and Andy Zipf - also wrote one of the songs together. A few other vocalists from the UK are Gemma & Timo Scharnowski (from The Forest Feeling), Matt Tinsley, and James Martin - a young guy who is just starting out but has a voice decades older!
What challenges have you had to overcome with lockdown rules during the pandemic, and how have you managed to work around those problems?
We had to completely change our plans! We originally intended to gather together with the writers, musicians and their families - parents, grandparents, children - and stage a multigenerational retreat where we would worship together and record and film the songs live. Lockdown meant an instant change of plans. We had to revert to a studio album, and find musicians with their own studios and recording facilities who could contribute. Our producer Matt Weeks got on the case and this quickly turned into an opportunity. We now had access to a much wider range of vocalists, on both sides of the Atlantic. And the drummer we knew with best studio facilities is Troy Miller, who is in demand globally as a producer and MD, as well as a celebrated jazz musician, and wouldn't usually have time to fit us in. But lockdown opened things up and we bagged Troy! The result is a completely different sound, much more eclectic. but I think it probably makes for a richer listening experience and reflects the variety in our contributors.
What do you hope people will take from listening to these songs?
Like anyone publishing an album of worship songs, we hope hearts will be stirred and passions ignited. We don't just want it to be an exercise in preaching on our theme, we want people to respond in worship, but worship that goes beyond singing. If listeners begin to join the dots the way we did between our love for God and our love for all he has made, then I think our efforts will be worth it. Even better, if they begin to sing some of these songs in their churches (whenever they can gather again) then we have a chance of forming disciples with a newfound determination to care for God's creation.
What does the next year have in store for Resound Worship?
Our big hope in the next year is to do what we originally planned for Doxecology - a multigenerational live worship retreat recording - but this time for less of a concept album! We'd love to try writing songs specifically for that gathering, songs that would engage whole families at once, and then share an album of them playing and singing together. I don't yet know when or if that will be possible, but we'll get there eventually. In the meantime we'll continue our other work with local church songwriters, encouraging them to serve their churches well through our podcast and online writing community.