CCM favourite REBECCA ST JAMES has recorded a spine-tingling worship album, Worship God'. Here she goes through the project song by song.
"Let My Words Be Few"
(Matt Redman and Beth Redman)
In Australia I grew up experiencing a worship revolution that was hitting England as well. In both of these countries you see thousands of people, especially young people, coming together singing worship songs to God. As a young person, it was very powerful to see and I always knew that this revolution would come to America and it is exciting to see that happening now. Through my worship album I really want to help feed that hunger for worship. England has had a real impact on worship in America through people like Martin Smith of Delirious? and Matt Redman. "Let My Words Be Few" is an example of a song that has had and continues to have an amazing impact. I love the simplicity and honesty of the lyrics because the focus is very much on simple love for God.
"Song Of Love"
(Rebecca St. James, Matt Bronleewe and Jeremy Bose) - Psalm 89:1, 5-6 NIV
When I was growing up, I often stayed at my grandparents' house. They owned a beautiful, multistoried house, with flower gardens and fruit trees. It was such a comfort to go to that house because no matter how things changed around me, this place always stayed the same. One of the sweetest things was waking up in the morning to the familiar sound of the birds singing outside my window. For the most part they were rainbow lorikeets, whose song is more like a screech than anything else, but to my ears it was beautiful. Beautiful, because of what it represented - a sonic reminder of memories there in that old house. To God's ears, the birds' singing is also beautiful, because it represents their song of love to him - a song of gratefulness for life and a new day! The birds' singing also teaches us that it doesn't matter how we sound when we sing to God. It matters only that our hearts are singing our own unique song of worship to him. "Song Of Love" is my way of expressing my love to Jesus.
When I was 14 or 15 years old I sang at a Baptist Youth Conference in Arizona. I came to sing worship songs off a worship album that I had recorded in Australia. Being a teenager myself, I was rather intimidated by the fact that I was singing in front of 3,000 or more young people as well as adults. I remember literally putting on my makeup back stage and just crying out to God saying, "God if you don't give me strength through this, I cannot go out there." I remember feeling such desperation for God to be close to me, to give me strength to speak and sing in front of all those people.
That is the same kind of desperation that I feel for God that comes through the song "Breathe". It's the knowledge that I can't live life without him... that I need him desperately, that I want him to be close to me and that I need to be close to him.
"God Of Wonders"
(Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong)
One of my most favorite things to do in life is go on walks outside to pray and pour out my heart to God as my best friend. These are some of my most intimate worship moments. I think part of the reason they are so intimate and powerful for me is because I'm experiencing his nature and creation and am able to see a piece of his heart in his work. Often I will feel the sun shining on my face or the wind in my hair; it will feel like God is holding me or loving me through his creation. The song "God Of Wonders" really reminds me of how nature can show us the awesomeness and the power of God, that he is a God of wonders beyond our galaxy.
"Lamb Of God"
(Rebecca St. James, Matt Bronleewe and Jeremy Ash) - Revelation 5:11-13, NIV
My favourite moments in songwriting are when God miraculously drops a verse, or a chorus, or even a whole song into my lap. It was definitely that way with this song.
My producer, Matt Bronleewe, and another writer named Jeremy Ash had a chorus that I loved, "Lamb of God, holy, Lord, You are holy." Now I just had to fulfil my part, which was to write the verses. But the deadline had passed and still I had no verses. We needed to record the vocal for the song, either that night or the next day, but... still no verses. I'd been praying, as I do with all my songs, that God would provide me with his words, not my own. I had an idea that this song needed to be based on Revelation.
By this time it was after midnight, so I got out a Bible and turned to the book of Revelation. My eyes fell on 19:6-7, and immediately words and music started to come together in my head - "I hear a voice of many people." An hour-and-a-half later the song was completely written and the vocal recorded. A true miracle!
(Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche)
I will never forget hearing this song for the first time at a family praise night put on by Women Of Faith. Lenny LaBlanc sang that night along with many other artists including myself. I will never forget when Lenny sang the song "Above All." The power of the lyrics really got to me - "That he was crucified, laid behind a stone, he lived to die, rejected and alone, like a rose trampled on the ground, he took the fall and thought of me, above all." That he loved me so much to sacrifice his life hit me all over again and drew me into worship in a very powerful way.
"Better Is One Day"
Over the years, even though I have not officially been a teenager for a few years now, I really try to maintain my connection to my home church youth group. I especially love the passionate worship that I can experience at our youth meetings. "Better Is One Day" is a favourite from those youth nights. I think the reason it hits me so much is because it emphasizes that you can have it all, travel the world, live anywhere, or have the greatest of experiences and yet better is one day with God in communion with him than a thousand anywhere else. And I think it emphasizes to me that that connection with God is the most important thing in life.
The bridge of "Better Is One Day" gets me every time I sing - "My heart and flesh cry out, for you the Living God, your Spirit's water to my soul." Even though I didn't write this song, those words sum up the cry of my heart.
"Quiet You With My Love"
(Rebecca St. James and Matt Bronleewe) - Matthew 11:28-30, NIV
Ever since I was very young, I have gone through stages of being a bit of an organisational freak. I would even voluntarily lay out my uniform for school the next day! There was one thing, though, that wouldn't succumb very well to my organising thoughts. Sometimes at night I would lie in bed thinking about irrational, crazy scenarios that would never, ever happen. But no matter what I tried, I couldn't make them go away. These fears would continue to scare me until I would finally call out for my daddy. He would come in and ask me what was bothering me. Then, after some gentle persuasion, I would tell him and we would laugh together about the silliness of my fears. In essence, my dad quieted me with his love. In a much larger way, God does the same thing for you and me. He quiets us, holds us, loves us, listens to us, shelters us.
"More Than a Watchman"
(Jeremy Casella) - Psalm 130:5-6, NIV
In the Old Testament, a guard was often posted on the city walls, in a "watchtower" or on the hilltops to keep "watch" over a particular city or the headquarters of an army. When he was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah posted watchmen day and night to guard against his enemies. Even after the walls were completed, he posted watchmen near the gates. Their role was that of a lookout, guarding against invading armies, warning of impending doom, or reporting a message that was being sent to a king.
During the night, while everyone else slept, the job of the watchman was to patrol the streets, making the rounds from time to time to make sure all was safe. Night time was particularly dangerous for watchmen. As the wee hours of the morning drew near, they longed with eagerness for the sunrise. Even today, when crops and vineyards are ripening in the Middle East, one may see watchmen on guard day and night.
"It Is Well"
(Horatio Gates Spafford)
On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was flying back from Florida to do vocals for the 'Worship God' album in Nashville, Tennessee. As soon as we landed we began to hear reports of the tragedies that had occurred in Washington DC and New York. I left the airport and arrived at the studio where we watched news reports showing the devastation of the terrorists' attack. We were meant to record vocals that day, but even just thinking about doing vocals was such a challenge because of the current events. My producer and I prayed for God to help us to focus and deliver his hope even on a day like that. I ended up deciding the song "It Is Well," which was birthed through tragedy, seemed incredibly appropriate to record that day. "Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well with my soul."
(Rebecca St. James) - Psalm 84:2, NIV
The setting was a family reunion at a Christian campsite in a mountainous region of Queensland, Australia. The scene from my vantage point on the mountaintop was the view of a beautiful valley. I sat, reading devotions during my quiet time, feeling rather inspired by what lay before me. Spectacular views like that tend to put things in perspective; how small we are, how big God is! But on that day another thought came to me, one that ended up inspiring a simple song called "You." It came down to my basic heart's desire, "Lord, I want to be like you, I want to love like you, but ultimately Lord, I want you." Worship is sometimes as simple as that.
(hidden track) -1 Corinthians 13:14, NIV
I was very blessed to grow up in a Christian family in Australia. Our country's first citizens were mostly English convicts, so unfortunately Australians don't have quite the same heritage of faith as Americans. That's why I say it's a bit of a miracle that my parents, grandparents, and even my 100-year-old great-grandmother are all Christians! One of the verses I remember both reciting and singing from an early age was "The Benediction": "And now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour be all glory, majesty, dominion, and power both now and forever, Amen." I thought it was such a beautiful blessing that a few years ago I decided to write one of my own, using similar "blessing" Scriptures from the Bible. The song "Omega" was born, and placed on the end of my album 'Pray' as a blessing that I leave with those who listen.