From Heaven High – A Christmas Song by Martin Luther

Zac HicksSongwriting5 Comments

I was turned on to this little gem by my friends, Nick Lannon and Jono Linebaugh, over at Liberate.  Jono gives a brief run-down on the background of this Christmas Carol (one of five) written by Martin Luther.  It was likely that this particular one (which has a part for “angels,” “children,” and “all”) was written for a Christmas pageant in which his own kids would have participated.  I love how it tells the story of Christmas while interacting with … Read More

Two Songs that Gain Traction Wherever I Go

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Songwriting5 Comments

Tullian preaching this past week at the CoveThis past week, I was at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove with my partner in crime, Tullian Tchividjian, and we were leading a little mini-conference on the themes of grace, law and gospel, and how Christian growth happens. The conference was largely a distillation of Tullian’s fabulous new book, One Way Love, which is no less than a distillation of the heartbeat and ministry ethos of everything that goes on … Read More

Great New Musical Meditations on the Gospel

Zac HicksSongwriting, Worship ResourcesLeave a Comment

I am continually impressed and encouraged by the output of Mars Hill Music. Stylistically, I love what they do. It’s my personal musical cup of tea. From the sing-songy, “Brady Bunch” worship style of The Sing Team, to the , flanged, Cure-style punk of The Modern Post, to the driving indie sound of Citizens, to the neo-classical folk chops of King’s Kaleidoscope, to The Dispatch’s modern tribute to the 80s, to Ghost Ship’s banjo rock, they’ve got something very special … Read More

The Sacred Trust that Worship Songwriters Possess

Zac HicksSongwritingLeave a Comment

“Abyss of Hell” by Sandro Botticelli, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy (credit: Vatican Library/Wikimedia Commons)I was recently struck by Gerald Bray’s description of the influential power that artists have possessed over biblical interpretation: Artists, writers and musicians through the ages have borrowed themes from the Bible without always submitting their imaginative powers to the control of the text. Sometimes this has had a great impact on the collective consciousness of the church, as for example, in the portrayal of hell … Read More

Defending the Musical Simplicity of Worship Songs

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Songwriting7 Comments

From several directions is sometimes heard the critique that “all modern worship songs sound the same”–the same four chords, the same trite melody, the same form, the same epic rise and fall.  Songwriters like me, when sitting down to put pen to paper on a musical staff, feel these critiques both consciously and subconsciously. We feel pressure to come up with something new, fresh, and different.  So we try to think outside of the conventional box of chords and progressions … Read More

What Worship Leaders Can Learn from a Fourth Century Songwriter

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, Songwriting2 Comments

Worship leaders would do well to learn at least a little bit about the life and work of Ambrose (c. 340-397), a pastor and church leader in Milan, Italy. He became an important figure in the early church because of his strong opposition to Arianism, a heresy which argued against the full deity of Christ and therefore challenged Trinitarian theology. Ambrose was also an early mentor to Augustine. What is less known about Ambrose is that he was an early … Read More

What Technology’s Democratization of Worship Songwriting Means for Us

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, Culture, History of Worship and Church Music, Songwriting, Worship Technology2 Comments

Ones and Zeros Chuck Fromm, publisher of Worship Leader magazine, recently summarized and explored the implications of the shift of the church’s song from paper to bits and bytes in the January/February article in that publication, “The Hymn Cloud: Generation to Generation.”  The transition from hard publishing to web publishing has much more de-centralized and democratized the enterprise of hymnody for both songwriters and publishers (“hymns” being used in the broadest sense of “the Church’s body of sung prayer”). Fromm, … Read More

What Modern Edgy Worship Leaders Can Learn From Modern Edgy Painters

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Church & Ecclesiology, Convergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Songwriting1 Comment

Frank Stella, Untitled (1967), from Black Series IIMy new colleague at Coral Ridge, Daniel Siedell (author and curator of Liberate), has a terrific series of posts over at Patheos on “The Poetics of Painting.”  In the final installment, Siedell examines modern painter, Frank Stella, and his minimalist paintings from the 1970s, rehearsing questions about how a modern minimalist, who painted simple, repeated stripes on a canvas, could have been so enamored, enthralled, and informed by the tradition of painting that had come … Read More

Doxology & Theology Conference and Boswell’s New Messenger Hymns Album

Zac HicksAlbum Reviews, Songwriting1 Comment

I’m looking forward to heading to Frisco, TX (outside of Dallas) tomorrow to spend some time with a bunch of worship leader buddies for the inaugural Doxology & Theology Conference, put on by Lifeway, Southern Seminary, Logos, and Veritas.  My friend Matt Boswell has been the mastermind behind this operation, and I can think of no one better to network young worship leaders from newly emerging and influential evangelical churches across the United States.   How would I characterize what’s … Read More

Open Our Eyes: A Worship Song Based on Luke 24

Zac HicksSongwriting6 Comments

Emmaus Road (Stained Glass)The Story Ever since my conversion to a more sacramental understanding of the Lord’s Supper, and upon reading Henri Nouwen’s, With Burning Hearts, I’ve been captivated by that odd encounter that Jesus had with two downcast sojourners on the Emmaus Road after Christ’s crucifixion, recorded in Luke 24.   Several things about that encounter keep fascinating me: The sojourners “were kept from recognizing” Jesus for a long time (v 16) Part of what began lifting their spirits … Read More