British rock musician JAMIE HILL talks to Tony Cummings about his worship ministry.
The release by ICC of Jamie Hill's 'One Day' album brings to light another dimension of this gifted British singer, guitarist and composer who is still best known amongst CCM buffs for his work with Cheltenham rockers Quench. In fact, Jamie is no newcomer to worship ministry. He has contributed session work to several worship projects including 'Spring Harvest Praise Mix' and 'Distinctive' albums while his work at the New Wine The Path youth meetings and Spring Harvest youth celebrations show he is no rock music opportunist making a worship album purely for commercial reasons.
Jamie speaks about his worship background, "Worship is almost all I have done musically since the age of 19 and it's quite strange 'starting again' as it were, in a different market with the new album. Since I spent a year with Youth For Christ, I started leading worship at my University Christian Union. Whilst at University - studying law believe it or not! - I really began to learn part of the awesome picture of what worship was, both in a congregational context but also in a lifestyle sense. I was able to be part of worship teams at Spring Harvest and through this my learning continued. Once I completed my degree, I had the privilege of spending four months at Soul Survivor Watford and training under Matt Redman and Mike Pilavachi in worship leading and songwriting. This was a hugely important time for me where I learnt so much and grounded many of the things I had picked up over the years. After this I then started working for various churches and now work as worship pastor for a youth congregation in Cheltenham called The Path. The very first worship song I wrote was when I was 16 and it was called 'Jesus You're A King' - it was considered for the album actually, but I'm glad to say that God's led me to write some better things since! I still quite like it though, if I'm being honest!"
I ask Jamie whether, when leading worship, he is able to "lose himself" in the experience as presumably he still has to think of the next chord, the words of the song and whether there is time for one more number before the preacher comes on. "I think that all lead worshippers have the eternal struggle that you describe above and I think that a lot of it comes down to our own preparation. I try to only lead songs that I can play without needing words or music, otherwise it can become such a distraction to trying to follow God's leading for that time. Our question needs to always be, 'God, how do you want us to worship you today?' And our place is to follow the Spirit's lead, lead people to where God wants to take them and draw as little attention to ourselves as possible. There can be few greater distractions than papers and books being moved and falling off stands during a time of worship.
"I think it is important when we lead to be able to connect in worship, but we are there to lead others into that place. A lead worshipper's main place to drink is out of the 'limelight' and before the Lord. The other point that is raised in this question is the relationship with the preacher or leader. Worship is not the warm up to the preach. The Word is the revelation in our journey of worship. That Word causes us to respond and worship more after seeing more of God - we can only worship that which has been revealed to us. It is essential for the relationship of pastor/preacher and lead worshipper to be one that works well together. One can only go as far as the other. Having worked with both, it is so important to work on this and look to develop the entire worship time and direction together."
One thing that Jamie wants to make clear to the Christian music community is that Quench are not folding in the foreseeable future. He comments, "Quench are definitely continuing and going strong. There is a whole pile of new material ready and waiting to be unleashed on the world and sometime over the next year I hope that we'll be seeing it out on a new Quench album!"
Jamie sees Quench and his worship ministry as separate entities. He explains, "As we began work on 'One Day', I decided that I wanted to keep it as something totally different from Quench, which is the reason I used other musicians on the album. My reasons for keeping them separate are as follows. We believe that Quench is called to be a contemporary rock band. Whilst I will personally worship in my performance with Quench, the reason Quench exists can be summed up as 'look at us and through what we do decide to listen to who we are about.' It is about performing and being seen and then pointing eyes to the truth of God and his love. I think that a lead worshipper's role is completely different. It's not about 'look at me' at all, it's about 'look at God, delight in him and let me disappear.' So Quench will not end up blending these elements although some may be able to worship at certain parts of the Quench set - we can worship in and through anything apart from sin! But we are not called to lead congregational worship and feel this is a very different calling. So 'One Day' and any future worship focussed albums will be kept separate from Quench and its future reaching out to win people over to the truth."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.