I can remember clearly the first time I heard Hillsong’s music being played and sung in a small church in Cambodia.
And the time I heard it sung in Nepal.
Those times I heard it in Malaysia, and Egypt, and Thailand.
My friends have told me stories of hearing it in Iran and China and Russia.
The truth is, the worship music coming out of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia rings throughout the earth and has—in many ways—shifted the way the church worships.
Who would have thought that an isolated nation with a few people (just over 20 million) would carry such influence and inspire such a movement?
And yet, that’s just the sort of thing God does – using the small to change the world. (Joseph, Esther, King David, Jeremiah, the Baby Messiah, the Apostle Peter, Lydia…)
In my earlier days, as a very young (and perhaps a little bit self-righteous) Christian, I avoided Hillsong. I guess I still had some of my rebellious streak in me and the “everybody loves them” sentiment was a turn off for me.
Not long after, I found myself sitting in Hills Church in northern Sydney, absolutely astounded at the way the church gathered, worshipped, and soaked in the solid word of God coming from the pulpit. Inwardly I repented of my preconceived ideas—otherwise known as judgement—and outwardly I rejoiced that such a movement exsisted and was well and truly serving the Body of Christ.
It’s been more than a decade since that service, and I have been so blessed by the music and ministry of Hillsong ever since.
To date, I don’t think there is a worship album that I love more than Hillsong United’s Aftermath. And when I list my favorite worship songs, many, many of them have originated from the expansive team of songwriters at Hillsong.
Now I have to be honest here.
Often when I first hear one of their albums, I like it… but I don’t love it. (Aftermath was a total exception to that.) Most of the time it’s through listening to it several times, reading the words, letting the message soak in, and getting to the point where the anthems are actually impressed on my heart before I come to love them.
Their newest live album – Cornerstone – was no different.
When I first received it, I listened a few times… And sure enough, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. To me, it sounded very Hillsongy – very similar to other albums. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it didn’t stand out to me either. Seemed a little… predictable? (Keep in mind I’m no music critic, so that’s just my “average person” impression.)
But as I’ve grown to listen to it and digest the message that its songs contain, I am loving it more and more.
The message of Cornerstone is Jesus. Plain and simple Jesus: His sacrifice. His worthiness. His pursuit of us. His gifts to us. His power for us. His supremacy. His grace for us. His goodness, His splendor, His magesty. His all-inclusiveness. (You get it, right?)
It’s the story of why He came and what He did, all wrapped up in beautiful melodies and the type of sing-your-heart-out anthems that Hillsong is so wildly famous for among Christian circles.
I so appreciate lyrics like this:
You laid down your life / For the likes of us
Now I sink beneath the waters / That Christ was buried in / I rise as you are risen / declare your rule and reign
Christ alone / Cornerstone / Weak made strong / He is Lord of all
Lord have your way in me / Like a mighty storm
The hope of the world / Calling us home with arms out wide
You are my rescue / You’ll never let me go
You offered up your life / A gift I could not earn
We’re taking up our cross / No matter what the cost
Taking on the raging storm / Anchored to your kingdom unshakable
You alone are better than life / I stand in awe / Of all that you are
I will love as you have loved / I will forgive as you forgive
You are the author / You complete it all
Each set of lines above was taken from each of the 12 songs on the album (in order). I took some creative liberty there to mix and match to show you just how powerful the themes are as they build and flow and tell the Story as the album unfolds.
My favorite song on the album is called Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise), and I was kinda excited to realize that it’s one of the songs Annie Garratt is leading. (Annie is my cousin who moved to Australia shortly after I did and also married an amazing Aussie bloke… and has two equally adorable littles, just like us. Love her, and love her ministry. I’m so proud of her.)
Hope you enjoy watching and listening to Beneath the Waters:
Just like all of the other Hillsong Live albums, Cornerstone begs to be listened to at a high volume. (I’ve come to love it while at high volume in my car, actually.) I guess it’s the “live” aspect of it… just works better when you can pretend you’re singing along with the masses at one of their large gatherings.
Hillsong’s music truly rings throughout the earth, rallying us to make Him famous and give Him our best. That’s a message I can always, always endorse. If you’re not already, I hope you’ll give Hillsong’s albums a shot.
Dear friends, I realize this is a very Christian-specific post and not all of my readers share my faith! If you do, have you ever listened to Hillsong? Maybe that’s a silly question and the better one is: have you heard the latest Hillsong Live album, Cornerstone? (And will you be going to the Colour Conference this year?! I am – squeeee!!! Let me know if you’ll be there – it would be very fun to say hello in person!)
Note: Cornerstone was provided for me to review.