Britain's top worship leader MATT REDMAN talked to Tony Cummings about his new album, his children

and being a faceto-the-ground worshipper.
Tony Cummings conducted this interview with Matt Redman in May, 2004. Tony: Why a live album?

Matt: I've had it in my heart for a while now to record a live album which captures the passion and presence of the singing, worshipping Church yet has a real uncompromised quality to the recording. We've just been waiting for the right time to do that - and the right environment to record it in. I've been really wary of setting it up in a false way - people getting together just for the sake of a recording feels a little weird to me. What unfolded felt like a really wholesome approach - we hosted a songwriters gathering and spent three days together affirming the call to write songs for the Church, and sharpening each other in that calling. Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall and myself all brought teaching to the 350 songwriters gathered - and then in the evenings we had worship and word meetings where we recorded the worship for the album. In the end it felt like the perfect environment - nearly everyone in the room was a lead worshipper so there we were surrounded by exuberant and passionate worshippers who happened to have great voices and could pick up new songs really fast! The three days were a wonderful time. One night in particular there was an incredible sense of the presence of God. The recording faded far into the background and we simply encountered God. It was everything I'd hoped for and more. Something happens in the worshipping Church that you won't find anywhere else on the face of this earth. Sometimes as Christians we can get a little paranoid about whether our music is up to scratch with secular standards and we get a little insecure - but in truth we have something that distinguishes us and cannot be copied or re-produced - the presence of God. My dream is for more worship albums that capture and convey this indistinguishable factor - the incomparable people of God pouring out the praises of God in the presence of God. Surely worship albums should be more than "a collection of recorded songs which melodically and lyrically happen to be congregational"? I'm looking for something deeper. Tony: How much overdubbing was done after the event?

Matt: As little as possible. Obviously there are always a few things that need fixing, but the key was getting in great players who would get great stuff to tape. We had a fantastic band - all 100 watt light bulbs in terms of their worshipping hearts - yet all massively gifted to express that worship through skilled and creative musicianship. The kind of people who are ready for the spontaneous too, and that shows through in places on the album. Tony: I understand that Nathan Nockels produced it. What did John Ellis and Terl Bryant do on the project? Matt: Yes, Nathan is a great producer - very creative, but also lots of common sense so he makes good decisions along the way. It's not too often you'll find someone who's wildly creative yet also brimming with common sense! Nathan is also a fantastic piano player - and brought some really fresh playing to the arrangements. It was wonderful to have John Ellis back in the picture. It's been a few years since we've teamed up on anything. He's a busy man, fronting Tree63, but God opened up a little window where he was able to free up two weeks to sow into this project. That was an amazing blessing to me - I love his friendship and his playing. We go back a long way - he used to play guitar in worship with us in South Africa - shortly after he'd become a Christian - so it was special for me that he could journey with us on this 'Facedown' project. We actually had another South African in the band too Andrew Philip on keyboards. Andrew works with me now on www.heartofworship.com and we travel together - most people will know him as a producer (Soul Survivor live, Paul Oakley, etc) but he's also a very innovative keys player. As for Terl Bryant - he brings a special edge to everything he's involved in. We get to lead worship together a lot these days - he's a great example of someone who plays skilfully from the solid foundation of a heart of worship. For all Terl brings musically, he brings just as much spiritually - through passion, intercession and prophetic insights, etc. Tony: Down the years you've had tracks released on many live event albums. How does 'Facedown' differ from them? Matt: I think it differs in a few ways. For one thing, it's a little more "crafted" - we've gone into the project trying to paint a particular picture - a flow of songs and sounds and lyrics that take up the call that Psalm 66 gives us to make God's praise "glorious". So in other words there's a thought-out concept running through the album. With a Soul Survivor album, for example, the conference is like a "painting", and with the album you're taking a photograph of that painting - in other words, documenting the journey those young people went on together in those few days. But with this new recording it's more like the album itself is the painting - a flow of songs that have been written and weaved mainly around the theme of reverence, wonder and mystery in worship. I guess the only other distinctive this time round is we're making a DVD - which would have been harder to do with a studio recording! It includes all the album's songs plus a couple of bonuses - and we've worked hard on exploring visually creative things - such as backdrop videos that convey the sense of some of the songs. The DVD will also contain some teaching features conversations with the likes of Tim Hughes, Darlene Zschech, Mike Pilavachi and Graham Kendrick - plus three whole talks from Louie Giglio which wrap themselves around the same theme of the reverence and wonder in worship.

Tony: Talk me through a couple of songs on Facedown.

Matt: The title song, "Facedown" is something which infused in my heart for a little while before I actually wrote it (with my wife Beth). I've become fascinated by this word "facedown" - it's the ultimate physical posture of reverence, and when you look for it you find it so many times in Scripture. Moses, Abram, David, Daniel and Ezekiel for example were all facedown worshippers - people who faced up to the glory of God and found themselves facedown in worship. In the book of Revelation we see more of the same - a congregation of face-to-the-ground worshippers who have seen so much of God that to fall down in reverence and awe is the only appropriate physical response. So the song "Facedown" centres in on the fact that we fall facedown in reverence and awe as God's glory shines around. More than anything of course, facedown worship is a posture of the heart - people so consumed with the glory of God that they find themselves reverencing him in every detail of their everyday lives. The song "Seeing You" wraps itself around the theme of revelation and response something I teach on a lot in worship: "This is a time for seeing and singing. This is a time for breathing you in and breathing out your praise." The point being that all the most wholesome worship is an overflow of the heart - an all-consuming response to the all-deserving revelation of God. In the same way that revelation leads us to a response, seeing leads to singing. As the song says, "We cannot sing of things we have not seen." The chorus sums up the theme of the whole song: "Worship starts with seeing you." Tony: How has being a dad with two small children changed your perspective on things?

Matt: My little girl, Maisey, and my little boy, Noah, are amazing children - lots of joy and energy every day! More than anything they make me want to get this mixture of marriage, family and ministry right. Every week we walk it out - trying to discern how much God has called us to travel, and how much I should be away, or how often we should journey away together as a family on trips and conferences. Thankfully some of those questions have been answered for us for the immediate future as we're planting a church in September of this year! We've been with the CCK church family for the last two years and that has been a wonderful season of refreshing, and re-aligning - plus we've made some great relationships there. But all the while we've had a rising feeling that God would be calling us out to church-plant - actually in the Church of England, which I grew up in. So, to cut a long story short, we have an ordained friend of ours moving down from London with his family later this year and a small team of us will be planting an Anglican church in mid-Sussex. Not all of the details are finalised yet, but we're really excited to see what God is going to do. It's great to have a blank canvas to re-imagine what our gathered worship and our reaching-out will look like. Tony: Shouldn't this greater emphasis on intimacy be affecting our culture by now? Matt: I can best answer this by describing the journey of discovery much of the wider Church seems to have been on with gathered worship. The way I see it there are distinct stages. Stage one - we realised that worship is not just singing songs for the sake of being uplifted, but that we could sing to God and bring him honour and pleasure through our congregational offerings. Stage two - we started to get more of a handle on the fact that as well as being heard by God, a divine exchange occurs in worship and we can actually encounter him. It's so common today to walk into a church singing their hearts out and see an expectancy to meet with God as they do so. That's very encouraging. But then comes stage three - a realisation of who it is we are actually encountering, that we must not equate his closeness with tameness or smallness. The God we draw near to in worship, and who draws near to us, is higher than the highest of heights - far greater than we could ever fathom or imagine. This is the stage I see many of us in right now - a re-awakening to the heights and depths of the glory of God. So in answer to your question, it's hard for someone like me to say whether all this talk of intimacy has affected our culture adequately. But all I do know is that a people who walk out their worship with a big view of our infinite yet intimate God will be an unstoppable force!

Tony: Have you seen The Passion Of The Christ movie? What did you think of it? Matt: Yes, I saw it a few weeks back. It's an impacting piece of cinema. One thing it did for me was challenge me as a songwriter. I sat there thinking, "I wish I could convey something more of the power and magnitude of the cross - and all that happened at that place - in my songs. Gibson uses his creativity (and about $30 million!) to visually convey something of the wonder and depth of the cross - could I manage somehow to paint a fuller and more powerful picture than I have so far through lyrics and sounds?" That is a huge challenge. Tony: Back in 2002 you were expressing a certain disquiet about the way praise and worship is being marketed in America. Isn't the situation even more commercialised than ever? Matt: The first thing to say is I hope I didn't pick on America! In truth, some of the deepest and most inspiring worship music I'm hearing is coming out of the USA - for example the Sixsteps record label with the David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall and Chris Tomlin. But the fact is we all need to examine our hearts every step of the way. When things get exciting, then it's time to ruthlessly check our hearts to check we're still on track. As Wimber reminded us. "The real test in these days will not be in the writing and producing of new and great music. The real test will be in the godliness of those who deliver it." There's a big and exciting worship movement in the USA, and a Christian record industry playing a part in that. It could be so easy I guess to point the finger at things we see being done that aren't quite the way we'd do them, or we're unsure of the reasons behind them. But God's been teaching me to first point the finger at myself and take a good hard look at all my heart motives. Once I start doing that I don't have time left to be judging what other people are doing! Tony: Are there any other areas of music you'd still like to explore? Matt: I try to consciously keep moving on musically - a new chord here or there - or a different sound, etc. But I'm anticipating a smooth, evolving approach rather than a radical departure into hip-hop or something! Tony: Shouldn't this greater emphasis on intimacy be affecting our culture by now? Matt: I can best answer this by describing the journey of discovery much of the wider Church seems to have been on with gathered worship. The way I see it there are distinct stages. Stage one - we realised that worship is not just singing songs for the sake of being uplifted, but that we could sing to God and bring him honour and pleasure through our congregational offerings. Stage two - we started to get more of a handle on the fact that as well as being heard by God, a divine exchange occurs in worship and we can actually encounter him. It's so common today to walk into a church singing their hearts out and see an expectancy to meet with God as they do so. That's very encouraging. But then comes stage three - a realisation of who it is we are actually encountering, that we must not equate his closeness with tameness or smallness. The God we draw near to in worship, and who draws near to us, is higher than the highest of heights - far greater than we could ever fathom or imagine. This is the stage I see many of us in right now - a re-awakening to the heights and depths of the glory of God. So in answer to your question, it's hard for

someone like me to say whether all this talk of intimacy has affected our culture adequately. But all I do know is that a people who walk out their worship with a big view of our infinite yet intimate God will be an unstoppable force! Tony: You're on your way to South Africa. What are you going to do there? Matt: We're travelling to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town to lead some worship at some gatherings of the local churches there. Terry Virgo will be speaking and we'll be weaving the meetings around the theme of 'Gods' Lavish Grace'. In Cape Town we'll also be joining in a huge prayer meeting - they're hoping to gather up to 20,000 people together to celebrate God's goodness, 10 years after the new found freedom that occurred a decade ago. And to intercede together for the future. It's been a few years since I've been out to South Africa, and it's an exciting season to be going. Tony: What was the last Christian book you read and what did it say to you? Matt: I've just read How Sweet The Sound by George Beverley Shea, the singing voice behind a lot of the music at the Billy Graham missions over the years. I actually met George a few years back and was inspired by his passion and perseverance at his ripe old age! I'm so used to thinking about music as the voice of the worshipping Church, but this book reminded me what a powerful and essential force that musical voice can be in conveying God to those who don't recognise him. Tony: What was the last Christian album you listened to and why did you enjoy it? Matt: Tree63's new album 'The Answer To The Question' - I love the music, and more than anything I love the worship it conveys. Even on top of that, John is also a brilliant lyric writer. Tony: What was the last non-Christian album you listened to and why did you like it? Matt: I've just been re-visiting (yet again!) some mid-'70s Stevie Wonder stuff. Just this morning my daughter Maisey and I had "He's Misstra Know It All" blaring out on the car stereo on the way to her pre-school - I'm educating her in the finer things in life! Stevie Wonder just has an incredible sense of how to write melody - and what's more, there's a lot of joy in these melodies - hardly anyone manages to do that. Tony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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