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Music review: Awake by Hillsong Worship

Music review: Awake by Hillsong Worship

Music review: Awake by Hillsong Worship

19 December 2019

Hillsong Church Creative Director Brooke Ligertwood (fifth from left) and the music team that worked on the church’s latest album Awake.

By Jessica Morris

The mission of Hillsong Worship’s new album Awake is abundantly clear from the first chords – the Sydney church wants to see revival.

And while many of us have heard this statement so often it nearly becomes stale, the anointing on this recording, in addition to the timeliness of its release, gives it new power.

“Awakening is, at its essence, revival; it’s a renewing of the Church and waking the people who have been asleep,” says Creative Director Brooke Ligertwood.

“We’re not just Church when we’re together singing live in a room – we’re Church at all times. God was powerfully working in us as we created every song on this project. He is not finished yet and is calling us all to wake up and lead his revival.”

Based on Ezekiel 37, where God tells the prophet to prophesy life over a desert of dry bones, Ligertwood pioneers this album with an authority that is refreshing and empowering. Light, piano-based melodies drive the studio album, and we hear no less than 10 different worship leaders sing grandiose anthems, worshipful ballads and beloved hymns.

The album was penned out of the church’s own growth and thirst for revival, and it shows in the passion of worship leader Jad Gillies when I speak to him about the album.

“Sometimes revival starts when people actually allow God to change them from the inside out. So we can ask for revival, we can talk about revival, but until we all realise what it will take and that it is individuals and the body of Christ allowing God to change them and to use them, then we won’t see it,” he said.

“Revival only comes when you actually take steps towards it and you give God the keys to do what he wants.”

Musically, Awake is similar in style to Hillsong Worship’s previous releases. Expect singable, corporate worship songs that can be taken into crescendos, or moved to quiet, introspective moments. Gillies’ rendition of ‘From Whom All Blessings Flow (Doxology)’ will come as welcome respite for people craving the tradition of long-standing hymns, and a new version of ‘He Shall Reign’ bookends the studio tracks.

While the studio recording of most tracks means the nuance of them may not be replicated in service (not every church has that many vocalists, let alone a saxophone), there is still an ease that makes them approachable to the everyday churchgoer.

“Often within the Church we [engage with the] cathartic features like worship, and then we forget about the other side of being the Church,” said Gillies.

“I love the fact there’s two sides of [being the Church] – there’s the hospital and fellowship side. Then there’s also the, ‘Go out into all the Earth and make disciples’ [side]. We are trying to create opportunities for people to be the hands and feet [of Jesus].”

By compelling the Church to participate in the Kingdom of God, the album can fulfil its mission and partner with local churches to create a revival in their midst. After all, what use is worship if it stays in the Church?

Awake is available online and at Koorong.

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