Do Some of Our Historic Images of Jesus Hinder Our Ability to See God as Joyful?

Zac HicksArt and Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Worship Theology & Thought5 Comments

If you don’t think that art has the ability to shape the spirituality and worship of the Church, hopefully this little exercise will shift your perspective.  What’s your reaction to the statement, “God is an intensely joyful God”?  Or, perhaps more starkly, “God is Joy.” My Pentecostal brothers and sisters have no problem with joy in worship.  Modern worship capitalizes on it.  But what about the more traditional-liturgical traditions?  Is there a sense of joy in our worship?  Many of … Read More

What’s STILL Great About the Organ? A Guitarist’s Perspective

Zac HicksHistory of Worship and Church Music, Worship Style, Worship Theology & Thought6 Comments

I serve in a worship environment that some might consider akin to “the wolf lying down with the lamb.”  I share office space with a world-class opera singer and one of the finest organists in the Denver Metro region.  Many Sundays, I crank up my Gibson ES-339 in a reverberant sanctuary alongside a drum enclosure which shares visual and symbolic space with a huge, expensive Wicks pipe organ.  I am an ever-growing, ever-learning rock musician with a modest but effective bachelor-level classical music education.  And I love pipe organ music, especially when accompanying congregational hymns.

What is a Canticle?

Zac HicksHistory of Worship and Church Music, Worship ResourcesLeave a Comment

We evangelicals interested in historic worship practices, traditions, and liturgies have a steep learning curve.  Part of that learning curve is a glossary of vocabulary words that pretty much feel like a foreign language (and there’s actually good reason for that…much old school worship lingo is Latin-based, not English-based).  From matins to Magnificat, from vespers to Nunc dimittis, we cautiously dip our toes in the water.  One of those Liturgese words is “canticle,” and I’ve found it particularly hard to understand what it is.  Upon reading Paul Westermeyer’s concise yet thorough definition below, I now understand why. 

Songs for the Supper: Great New and Old Communion Songs – FOR FREE

Zac HicksHistory of Worship and Church Music, Hymns Movement News & Reviews, Worship Resources5 Comments

Cardiphonia has produced a feast for the ears to strengthen the Feast of Christ in the modern church’s worship.  Not long ago, Justin Taylor, when posting about our song, “Lord, I Believe,” commented: “I’m not aware of many hymns that are specifically designed for celebrating the Lord’s Supper.”  This observation is typical and appropriate for those of us (myself included) reared in the modern evangelical church.  Our tradition, by and large, has downplayed Communion.  We speak of its importance.  Some … Read More

A Rock & Roll Curriculum that Seminaries and Christian Colleges Should Pay Attention To

Zac HicksCulture, History of Worship and Church Music, Worship Resources, Worship Style, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

David Brooks, in a 2007 piece in the New York Times, discusses the movement from integration to fragmentation in American rock music.  The 1970s saw bands like the Rolling Stones and Springsteen drawing from country, soul, and blues to converge in fresh, integrative rock styles.  Groups such as these mark the era of “super-bands” that could sell out stadiums, some of which still do today.  But since that era, we’ve seen a splintering of music into thousands of ghettos.  The result is that music-making in the modern era, at least among rock musicians, is very disconnected with the past, lacking any sense of creative continuity and integration with the musical building-blocks that have come before.

A Great Song on the Five Solas for Reformation Sunday

Zac HicksHistory of Worship and Church Music, Songwriting4 Comments

Reformation Sunday is coming up this weekend.

I remember several years ago sitting in Christian Ethics class in seminary, hearing the professor ask the group of forty-plus students, “Can anyone name the five solas of the Reformation?”  Collectively, as a group, we nailed three and squeezed out a fourth at the end.  I was ashamed to call myself an aspiring evangelical Protestant pastor.

CCM Artist Challenges Modern Worship to Write Better Songs and Embrace Liturgy

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Songwriting, Worship Theology & Thought5 Comments

Fernando Ortega has always behaved as one cut from a different swatch of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) cloth.  His instrumentation has almost always been a bit more folky and “classical.”  His melodies have always been a bit more lyrical.  His albums have always shown an awareness and embracing of the Church’s hymn tradition. 

An Interview with the Maker of the Modern Worship Hymns Album, Love Divine

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Hymns Movement News & Reviews, Songwriting, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

As most of you know, a major focal point of this blog is the intersection of ancient and modern in worship, with a particular eye toward dialogue between mainstream modern worship and historic hymnody.  Several months back, I highlighted a preview of the album, Love Divine, which, as a compilation project of mainstream modern worship leaders singing re-tuned texts of Charles Wesley, is a significant achievement toward the end of the coming together of these two worlds.

All About Our New Album, Without Our Aid

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Hymns Movement News & Reviews, Songwriting, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Without Our Aid is the second full-length release of Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek Worship, out of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO.  Their debut album, The Glad Sound, was their first hymns project, released in 2009, and between that time and the present, Zac has contributed to three other compilation projects with Cardiphonia: The Psalms of Ascents (March 2010) , Hymns of Faith: Songs for the Apostles’ Creed(October 2010), and Pentecost Songs (June 2011).


Without Our Aid is an experiment in songwriting for the sake of building bridges between two current camps in modern church music—the so-called “hymns/rehymn movement” and mainstream modern evangelical worship.  The album’s aim is to combine the energy and vitality of the modern worship sound (made most popular by groups like Passion and Hillsong), with the depth, theology, and historical connectedness of Christian hymnody across time.  From a songwriting perspective, the two do not easily go together: hymns are usually written in through-composed verses, while modern worship songs tend to have three and sometimes even four unique sections (verses, choruses, bridges, and “surprise” refrains or endings).  Though hymn purists might decry the liberties taken in bending and arranging the original hymn-texts, and though modern worship connoisseurs may consider the texts too verbose and archaic, our passion for greater growth and unity convinces us that Without Our Aid is a unique and worthwhile project.


The goal of Without Our Aid was to create an album which sounded live in order to capture that more tangible “moment” of corporate worship.  It is not a live album in the true sense, mostly because our current setting does not have the bandwidth to be able to pull off a live recording.  However, the recording was pieced together in the “live” setting of our reverberant, 900-seat, traditional sanctuary, employing ambient mic techniques for all the major instruments.  A backing choir of approximately 20-30 voices sang through the album multiple times; those sessions ended up being powerful times of worship themselves.
Stylistically, Without Our Aid is best characterized as a “modern arena-worship” record—big drums, driving electric guitars, layered synths, crowd noise, and a live “congregational” sound.