New Spring Harvest worship leader LEIGH BARNARD has recently released his first album through ICC. Tony Cummings asked him some questions.
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That first year was amazing. I didn't know anything about SH or leading worship on a celebration scale really but God used me somehow. I remember literally dozens of people encouraging me with their different stories but one woman stands out in particular. She had been dragged along to SH and didn't really want to be there so she had confined herself to her chalet. She said that she couldn't get on with anything she had been to. One morning she turned the TV on and saw the morning worship and something inside her was released and she came to Christ. Stories like that keep you going when things get tough in the everyday service of a local church. I would like to meet her again to tell her what an encouragement her story has been to me over the years.
On the downside I remember a lady correcting me after the morning celebration on the grammar of one of my prayers. That was nice. Oh, and forgetting the words to my own song last year when I was teaching it to 5,000 people in the Big Top. That was pretty embarrassing.
Who are your major musical influences?
I love acoustic guitar, anything that you have to plug in is not really a proper instrument is it? (ducks) So I have always loved James Taylor and people like Ryan Adams and Sting. I have an eclectic taste so right now I'm listening to Eminem. I've just managed to get tickets to see Jack Johnson in February 2006 which I am very happy about.
Christian music-wise I've already mentioned Don Francisco as a major influence on my guitar playing. When I was younger I loved people like Michael Card and Phil Keaggy and still find Phil's music incredible. Now that I am involved with worship I have a huge admiration for Brian Doerksen who has written some amazing songs over the years. I think it is incredibly difficult and a huge responsibility to write worship songs so I have respect for those that have brought us the songs that form the staple diet of local church worship. Apparently, Brian Doerksen is a big JT fan. Did I mention James Taylor?
What sticks in your mind about the recording of 'Countless Are The Mercies'?
The whole process was amazing. I had quite a few songs so we had to whittle them down. In my mind I was a bit worried about churning out a 'twee' worship album but that was tempered by the fact that I wanted to record songs that you could use in your local church. That's what I'm really interested in.
The musicians were amazing. Dan Wheeler (guitar), Matt Weeks (bass), Calum Rees (drums), Mark Edwards (piano, etc) and John Perry (BVs). Trevor Michael produced it and was brilliant. It felt like a huge privilege to be working alongside them, the whole album feels like a gift from God really.
I suppose my overriding memory (apart from the turkey and lime pickle sandwiches we had every lunch time) was sitting in the control room of Studio One with all the musicians sitting round and playing through the songs on my acoustic guitar while they made notes. The bit that I enjoyed most was hearing them interpret what I had played to them in their own style. It was amazing hearing them working together to arrive at the finished article. I think the sound is very 'British' and I love it.
I'm now involved in music ministry full time at church and at various events around the country. I'm also privileged to be part of the Songwriters Consultation Group that meets every year which is very important to me. Many people today, particularly younger people, learn their theology from worship music, so it's quite a responsibility to be a writer.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.
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