Hillsong Live Celebrates 20th Album with “God is Able”
By Timothy Yap
Prime Cuts: Cry of the Broken, Alive in Us, God is Able
“God is Able” is Hillsong Live’s 20th release. After the odyssey of 20 albums, many things have changed. Most noticeably is the huge turnover rate of lead worship singers/songwriters. Gone are such former contributors such as Geoff Bullock, Miriam Webster, Russell Fragar, Marty Sampson, Steve McPherson and even the recent favourite Brooke Fraser (Ligertwood). Nevertheless, this Aussie Mega Church has kept a few pivotal mainstays: First, they have wisely stuck on to former worship pastor Darlene Zschech. Incubus to the success of Hillsong Music, it is through Zschech’s leadership Hillsong Music has become such a phenomenon today. This is because she has the God-given ability to instil the awe of God’s presence in the way she moves the church to worship. And even to this day, no worship leader from this mega church could fill Zschech’s shoes. Thankfully Zschech is back again on this 20th release leading two songs and single-handedly wrote “Cry of the Broken.” However, her substantial subdued role relative to their earlier albums is certainly the church’s greatest misstep. Second, Hillsong has never been reticent in their proclamation of their praise of God from an evangelical confessional stance. Over the years, they have been bold in dressing such a lofty message in anthemic crescendo building stadium-filling numbers. Again “God is Able” is choke full of such Godly endeavours.
Easily the best tracks here are the ones led by Darlene Zschech. While the other lead worship singers have a tendency to treat each track as though it is a concert performance, it is only Zschech who truly functions as a worship leader when she leads the congregation to be engaged in the worship of the Almighty. This is most evident on “Alive in Us”–a bold and catchy proclamation of the transforming power of Christ’s resurrection. Not since 2008’s “Savior King” have we heard Zschech lead an uptempo anthemic song so “Alive in Us” is a refreshing listen. Zschech single-handedly wrote and sang “Cry of the Broken.” Without the regular bevy chorus of singers, “Cry of the Broken” features just the voice of Zschech beautifully sung over a soft sonic bed of strings and keyboard. Taking comfort from Psalm 90, Zschech pours out her heart to God assuring us that our God hears the contrite. Tender, heart warming and so worshipful–“Cry of the Broken” is more than a song, it ought to be the daily prayer of every child of God.
Zschech can be heard quite prominently as she offers companion vocals to Ben Fielding on the mid-tempo “My Heart is Overwhelmed.” While many worship songs today are more testimonial in nature, “My Heart is Overwhelmed” has God at its cynosure and how that changes us. Zschech’s harmony vocals on the latter half of the song add so much more dimension and depth to the song. Another Ben Fielding-led song “The Lost Are Found” is also worthy of mention. A building simmering rocker that explodes with a catchy chorus. The title cut “God is Able,” led by current worship pastor Rueben Morgan, is this album’s “Mighty to Save.” Stately, bombastic and extremely catchy, “God is Able” is destined to be a future worship classic. Conspicuously missing is Brooke Fraser, and so in place of her is Annie Garratt who sings lead with Jad Gillies on the song on the somehow average ballad “Unending Love.”
Over the last couple of albums, their music has moved closer and closer to that of their sister band Hillsong United. This means that they have moved closer to a rock based template with a lesser emphasis on corporate worship. Joel Houston lends his muffled voice on the Coldplay influence soft rocker “Rise,” Jonathan Douglass gives a rousing shout out on the firey “The Difference” and “Narrow Road” receives a mediative read by Dave Ware. Though these are all average worship songs there is not much that sets each of these lead vocalists apart. And these songs could easily be thrown on a United disc. In short, let Darlene Zschech lead more of the songs–she is and has been the face of Hillsong Live. More importantly, she is not just a singer, she is an anointed worship leader who not only feels the songs deeply and she inspires us to worship too.
(Quote from Timothy Yap)
The above quote failed to mention the new church that Darlene Zschech and her husband Mark have.
That new church is also on Twitter.
Not to mention Facebook.
The new church is in Wyong-New-South-Wales.
Hope Unlimited Church is part of the denomination ACC as is Hillsong Church.
The following is a copy and paste of an article in the Christian Post news service dated Thu, Oct. 28 2010 06:17 PM EDT:
After serving at Hillsong Church for 25 years alongside Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, renowned worship leader Darlene Zschech will be leaving the megachurch to assume a senior pastor role at a nearby Pentecostal church.
She will be leading Hope Unlimited Church, near Syndey, with her husband, Mark, beginning in January 2011.
“We are incredibly honored and VERY excited to be heading into this great opportunity to serve the people of the Central Coast and everyone at Hope Unlimited Church. We are entering into what we believe will be a wonderful and fruitful season ahead,” Mark Zschech said in a statement earlier this week.
“We really feel like God’s called us to the central coast and to really have an impact there. And really the two words that are on our hearts are to lead and to build. We’re going to build a church for everybody.”
Hope Unlimited Church began searching for senior leaders several months ago, in conjunction with Australian Christian Churches (ACC) State and National leadership.
“Our aim was to find God’s choice, those who would lead us into the incredible destiny God has for our house,” the church stated. “God is faithful!”
Hillsong pastor Brian Houston expressed good wishes for the Zschechs.
“I feel good about it … and our church leaders and elders feel good about it because Mark and Darlene have really sown into our church for a long, long time,” he said in a message to his mega-congregation, which is also part of the ACC denomination, formerly Assemblies of God.
“The Zschech family have been an integral part of our church family and whilst they will be greatly missed, we feel as though this is a good and a timely step for them.”
The Zschechs will still be involved in various Hillsong praise and worship projects, including an upcoming live album as well as Hillsong conferences.
Mark highlighted, “Whilst Darlene will remain very much in her various roles in worship ministry and myself in mission and media endeavors in the developing world, we have always been local church people.”
They will begin in their new role as senior pastors at Hope Unlimited Church on Jan. 23.
Note by Yachtsman220. For the sake of clarity and to be brief and simple, I have changed the name of the church from “Church Unlimited” to Hope Unlimited Church in the copied and pasted article from Christian Post.com because apparently the church changed their name sometime between the time the article was originally posted and now.
- Store Where God Is Able Live is available (ricklivermore.wordpress.com)
- From Australia, Hillsong Live offers its 20th annual recording this July (christiangospelmusicdaily.wordpress.com)
- Album Review: Hillsong ‘God is Able’ (screaminggoose.wordpress.com)
- Hill$ong rips up the bible and does a roaring trade (signposts02.wordpress.com)
- God Is Able web stream on YouTube (Celebrating 25 Years // Hillsong Conference 2011) (keishinta.wordpress.com)
- Australia’s Reuben Morgan shares his thoughts on the new Hillsong album on Christian Music Daily (christiangospelmusicdaily.wordpress.com)
- Reflections on Worship (notsoperfectpw.wordpress.com)
- International Music Sensation Hillsong United Brings One-Night Cinema Event Featuring Live Musical Performance to U.S. Movie Theaters Nationwide (prweb.com)
- Hillsong Conference, Melbourne (jimbocyberdoc.wordpress.com)
- The Sydney Morning Herald