Yerubilee: Israel's groundbreaking Messianic praise & worship reggae group

Sunday 16th January 2011

Tony Cummings reports on the innovative worship music of Israel's YERUBILEE


The cross-fertilisation of different musical forms has long been part of the contemporary scene. But even the most adventurous musical experimentalists will have raised an eyebrow over the emergence of Yerubilee from Israel whose music has been described by one floundering critic as "Messianic Christian praise and worship reggae" and are led by a virtuoso on a 10 string harp - an instrument that echoes back to the days of King David. Yerubilee recently released their second CD 'Arise And Shine' and with powerful originals from the band's leader Teddy Chadwick like "Do you See That Cloud", "Haria FaRiha" and "Ram v'Nisa haMashiach" interspersed with one or two covers (one wonders what Martin Smith makes of a Messianic rendition of "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever"), the effect is truly exhilarating.

Recently Paul Calvert met up with Teddy Chadwick and began his interview by asking him about Teddy's Davidic harp. "The design comes from an ancient coin found in Jerusalem which dates back to about 120AD. It's a 10 string harp, just like Psalm 92, 'Sing unto the Lord with an instrument with 10 strings.' In Hebrew it is an kinnor, a 10 string Biblical instrument. I've modified it to improve the tuning and I can plug it into electric sound systems. I found it was limiting and I couldn't play in too many keys. So I have made it a bit more complicated, I've developed a new crossbar on the top which makes it a bit more difficult to play because you have to think a bit more to get the correct key and for it to sound good. Basically 10 strings is an octave plus two."

So how did an American-born musician end up playing Messianic reggae in Israel? Teddy's journey was a long and fascinating one. "My father was a preacher; he's been involved in ministry for my whole life. So I was raised in the faith and gave my heart to the Lord when I was seven years old, baptised in water at the age of 11. They wanted to wait a bit longer, so I knew what the faith was about. I had an understanding at the age of seven and it was a real experience and life change. I was filled with the Holy Ghost when I was 13, and later in my teens, my heart began to fall away. I was being pulled into different interests and I didn't see how God could be involved in that. I didn't realise that he was happy to be involved in everything in our lives and that he's trustworthy. I fell away and was living in Los Angeles playing in a speed metal band called Sidecar 2000. I was doing a bit of speed metal, punk and disco. It was fun, but there was something unfulfilling about that. What was missing was the relationship with the Father, but I didn't realise that until some circumstances changed in my life. When I finally reached that point of understanding, after a horrendous break up with a girl and I was depressed a lot, having suicidal thoughts. I was lying on the floor of my house and I cried out 'God if you are still there and you still care then in the name of Jesus take this depression away, I can't live like this.' It was as if he was sitting on the edge of his seat waiting for me to ask. I prayed with power, the power of Jesus' name and the minute I asked he yanked that depression right out of me, and it felt like this evil presence was leaving out the top of my head. I couldn't help but believe it, he was still there and he has the power to take care of me. Nobody can deny that, because I felt lighter in my body and everything became brighter."

After working with mentally handicapped adults it became clear to Teddy that he should relocate from USA to Israel. "After my depression, God began to speak clearly to me about Israel, telling me he has a place for me here, and he has kept me here. He has been faithful to his word and I am honoured to be here and serve him day by day. I still travel a lot but I am based here. It's such a joy, amazing to live in Jerusalem, it's a cross between the first and the third world. It's just an amazing world, you have buildings where everything is round and then you have skyscrapers and areas that are full of sand. The Bible says God will make the dessert bloom, and the dessert is blooming today in Israel. The Galilee region is the most beautiful part of the Middle East. In the springtime flowers are growing all over the hills and you can see the mountains leading to the Sea of Galilee. We are praying for water still, because we need more water to flow into the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan. But the Father is providing for Israel and there are more than seven million people living here, and there is room for a lot more."

Teddy Chadwick
Teddy Chadwick

After his relocation Teddy worked with other believers in Jesus Christ the Messiah in setting up 24:7 Prayer House Ministries which are involved in prayer and worship ministries, 24 hours a day, all year round. Teddy spoke about the movement. "There are more than 500 houses of worship worldwide which are 24/7 or at least have a vision for it. It is not organised centrally by any human, it is just Yahweh pouring out his Spirit and people respond to it. When you think about it, if Jesus is coming back soon, doesn't he deserve to come back to a planet which is worshipping him? There are now four houses of worship here in Jerusalem and some of them have already maintained a 24 hour schedule. Sometimes there are two or three people in the room; sometimes I am on my own. At popular times there could be 30 or 40 people in the room. It depends on people's schedules and some shifts are more popular than others. The important thing is that he is still worthy and we are still lifting him up.

"I first got involved with Filipino believers in the USA. We would gather together 12-15 congregations and do one night straight through 24 hours. Congregations would bring their choir, their pastor, lots of flags and instruments. We would usually start on a Friday evening and going straight through to Saturday evening. The funny thing was that not many people realised that was the same timing as the Biblical Shabbat, because in Genesis it is written that the evening and the morning was the first day... Jews have always understood the day to begin and end at sundown; it was a Roman invention to put it at midnight. So what better thing to do on the day of rest than to praise the Lord? It is exciting to be part of his Kingdom and to connect with people on different aspects of where they are in the Kingdom. Wherever I find them, as I travel extensively, I want to bring people closer to the Father and music opens up doors, teaching and speaking do's, I distribute Bibles and harps to encourage people to become worshippers and develop a heart of worship. I want to tell people that they are going to have a lot of fun doing it."

In 2006 Teddy formed Yerubilee. He explained, "The name is a combination of Jerusalem, which in Hebrew is Yerushalayim, and the English word jubilee. When you put them together you get Jubilee in Jerusalem or Yerubilee. We proclaim the name of the Yesuah. We proclaim the Gospel. We are a Hebrew band who proclaim in Gospel-reggae, we sing in Hebrew, English and some other languages."

The guest musicians on 'Arise And Shine' are Jamie and Jonathan Hilsden (guitars), Avi Perrodin (bass), Joel Hilsden (drums) and Rachel Scholtz (violin). So how did the unlikely musical element of reggae get introduced into Messianic music? "I've slowly become more and more a fan of Bob Marley over the years. I believe that he had a calling as a worship leader. He became a believer again, just before he died. Many of his fans won't admit that, but I think I have some pretty good sources on that. A friend of a friend was involved in the end of his life and was able to confirm that. He was raised a believer by his grandmother and then got into Rastafarianism. I don't mean any offence to any believers of any religion, but from my part, there is only one true way, despite there being good parts to every religion. The Son of Yahweh is the only way; he said I am the Way, the Truth and Life. So Jesus is the way to the Father and the Bible says everything was made by and through God. So I am happy to find that Bob Marley came back into the faith before he died. If he was sincere in that, then we will see him in Heaven."

Yerubilee: Israel's groundbreaking Messianic praise & worship reggae group

Teddy feels that Messianic worship music needs to move beyond its current forms dominated by its Hebraic folk music influence. Commented Teddy, "I want to see it get more and more bold. The culture is changing here in Israel and there have been some amazing news reports on secular TV. They are now reporting in a favourable light. They never used to pronounce the name of Yeshua on the air, now they pronounce his name as they are talking about us. I think that the music scene is going to grow, but it is just a part of the believer's community in Israel, less than one per cent of the population. We need to see the Kingdom of Heaven expand in Israel and in all the nations of the world. Music is only a small part of that."

Yerubilee's first album 'Yerubilee: The Green CD' was released in 2008 and, like the new album, is a mix of Chadwick originals and covers. "The reason for doing other people's songs is I want to make it easier for people to enter into worship and take their attention away from me and my band onto God. Using familiar songs helps people, as they already know the words. We did a song called 'We Want To See Jesus Lifted High', a popular worship song (written by Britain's Doug Horley). We got permission from the publisher to sing 'We Want to See Yeshuah Lifted High'. I sang that in Berlin a while ago and the place erupted and the Spirit fell down. It was amazing to see. As well as covers 'The Green CD' had songs I'd written; there is one based on Isaiah 53 called 'By Your Wounds'. It's based on the prophetic passage in Isaiah 53 that talks about the Messiah. They have pretty much left that out of the Jewish Liturgy because it points to the Yeshuah so strongly, but it is still in the Bible so I can't ignore it. It says that he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities and by his wounds we are healed. I decided to take that Scripture and turn it round to say Father in the name of Yeshuah, by your wounds I am healed. I have seen healing by encouraging people to sing it."

Yerubilee's 'Arise And Shine' album begins with the Chadwick composition "Do You See That Cloud". Said Teddy, "It talks about a cloud the size of a man's hand coming out of the sea. It is a small cloud, but it will turn into a storm. That's revival, which we have tasted in the last few decades. The '70s was the last great revival, there has been some renewal since then, but we haven't really seen what's coming. But there is going to be a thunderstorm, a worldwide growth of the Kingdom where the Kingdom of Heaven will advance, it will be amazing. It's a prophetic song about that."

For the future, there may well be new styles and influences introduced into Yerubilee's already highly eclectic style. "At the moment we are moving in reggae, but I wouldn't be surprised if we moved into salsa or some other Arabic rhythms and styles, maybe some Ethiopian to incorporate some African sounds at some stage. I'm wide open, and we serve the Creator of the Universe who is the most creative personality and we follow Him, so why shouldn't we as believers be the most creative human beings on earth? Why not, let's raise our sights and get into something new." CR

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.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by henry in nairobi-kenya @ 11:15 on Jun 3 2013

hi teddy.op ur fine.we met with you 2004 in amission the first time u stepped in western part of kenya.we talked some thing to do with praise en worship.iremember we were both on the pulpit and you sung akenyan gospel song 'mambo sawa sawa.when you leaving, you gave me conducts to be in touch with you so that you can help me in music.thenks

Posted by keijo in Sverige @ 09:59 on Jun 13 2011

Amen to gloriuos God who will save the Israel and out pour the HOly Spirit on this the nation for blood of Jesus and give to them his refuge and protecting from all troubles and hate ,be bless an joy for Christ,thanks and bless again with joy,keijo sweden

Posted by Teddy in Shomron @ 12:57 on Mar 15 2011

@Eli: You are slightly misinformed about Yerubilee. The photo does not list all the people involved. The printed CD credits list 28 people who were involved in this recording project. Of these 28 people, at least 9 have Israeli citizenship. As to your "Messianic" claim, 8 are actually part of the leadership team of one Messianic congregation or another in Israel. Some of these are now living abroad, but the above was true at the time of printing. 10 people are international, with roots in South Africa, USA, and France for example.

The recording project is described in the CD booklet as a "One New Man" growth point, according to Ephesians 2:14.

Along with this, for a Biblical answer to your "Jewish" issue, see Romans 2:28-29. Further, Eph. 2:11 maintains that the believers from Ephesus "were in times past Gentiles in the flesh." This means that they are no longer Gentiles at all. There is no such thing as a Gentile believer in Yeshua. Romans 11 speaks of the ingrafting--and I for one take it seriously. See my writings on for more info.

However, if you prefer the Israeli Government standard of "who is halakhically Jewish," then as far as I am aware, even my dear sister Shani Ferguson does not fit that description.

Eli, I respect your opinion, but I suggest that it's time to move beyond the old and join together as One New Man (Eph 2:14-22). Yeshua has removed the enmity.

In Yeshua,

Posted by Eli in Ramat Gan, Israel @ 12:12 on Jan 26 2011

Instead of writting about a group that is neither messianic (or Jewish except for the bass player) and who's roots in Israel are as deep as mine are in the UK, how about writing about actual Israeli born-again musicians, such as Shani Ferguson or Maya Avraham.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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