Veteran songwriter and worship leader GRAHAM KENDRICK answered some of Tony Cummings' questions.
Tony: You've clearly got a long term with Kevin Mayhew Publishing and The Source seems to have made quite and impact in the marketplace. Would you say that The Source songbook has achieved its objectives?
Graham: Judging by the personal comments I hear from worship leaders and well-thumbed editions that I see around the place, The Source songbook has been very well received. In particular, people seem to appreciate the breadth of content and diversity of sources and the variety of worship styles and traditions which are represented there. You would have to ask the publishers if they feel it has achieved its objectives from their perspective but in my view I believe it has provided another alternative which is specially attractive to churches who are trying to mix old and new together and want to reflect the heritage of Christian worship alongside the latest compositions.
Tony: What is the thinking behind The Graham Kendrick Prayer Song Collection? How would you describe a prayer song?
Graham: The Prayer Song Collection is part of a series of worship resources published by Kevin Mayhew Publishing which brings together songs under seasons such as Christmas, Easter or other categories such as in the case of prayer songs and such as in the case of prayer songs and Psalms. Right from my early days of worship leading, in common with many other worship leaders, I have found that worship often flows very naturally and appropriately into prayer, often spontaneous as we seek to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I am conscious of a new season of this happening and it has been exciting to be in situations where we also use spontaneous poetry and dance, improvised playing of instruments, singing in Scripture and so on, adding up to some very creative and dynamic prayer times. Over the years I have composed songs which are designed to help the expression of prayer, eg, "O Lord, The Clouds Are Gathering" which was written following a leadership conference where there was much concern and the state of the nation, and "Peace Be To These Streets" was written specifically for use on the streets in a March For Jesus context. Songbook and CD together function as a resource with the bonus that the tracks will be enjoyed in the same way as a regular worship album.
Tony: And what the thinking behind The Graham Kendrick Psalm Collection?
Graham: The Psalm Collection functions in much the same way and is a resource for worship leaders and service leaders who are looking for a material based around the Psalms. Once again we have compiled it in such a way that it can be a listening experience as well. As publishers, our desire is that the songs have the best chance to do that for which they were written and to make good use of the past recordings of them which we have. Some of the albums from which the tracks are taken are no longer readily available and representing some of them in this way is a good use of our resources.
Tony: Your last album 'What Grace' won this year's Christian Booksellers Convention award as praise and worship album of the year. Were you surprised to the response to the album after quite awhile out of the public eye?
Graham: To say I was surprised might be suggesting that I was expecting a bad response! Having not put out a regular collection of praise and worship songs for about six years I really didn't know what to expect, and I didn't assume anything but obviously hoped it would be well received. By the time we had finished in the studio I knew that we had a good collection of songs and a musical production approach which had worked well. I was aware that many people were hungry for the kind of material which I write but it is almost impossible to predict how people will actually respond. I have no doubt that Fierce! Distribution had an important part to play in bringing it to the attention of the Christian public and I'm sure there was a fair degree of curiosity value in discovering me alongside the likes of Delirious? But it's not enough just to get people to buy - they've got to like what they've taken home with them. If the album does fulfil or exceed their expectations, then the dynamic of personal recommendation kicks in, which is one of the factors which takes it to the next stage. What satisfies me most is hearing back from worship leaders who are using the songs and finding that they do their job in releasing worship and communicating truth, or individuals who write to me and say how a particular song has helped them in their relationship with God or through a particular crisis in their lives.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.