If You’re Trying to Think More Pastorally About Worship…

Zac HicksSongwriting, Worship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

If you’re trying to think more pastorally about worship, then you should read this interview.  It is both a model of what pastoral thinking looks like and a display of some application of thinking pastorally in the local church context.  Bobby Gilles, over at My Song in the Night has a great set of Q & A with Bruce Benedict of Cardiphonia.  My favorite two parts of this interview: Bobby Gilles: What do you say to a pastor or worship leader … Read More

Is the Lord’s Supper a Funeral or a Feast? (Injecting Communion Repertoire with an Upbeat Song)

Zac HicksHymns Movement News & Reviews, Songwriting, Worship Theology & Thought4 Comments

I’m not trying to sound crass, here, but Communion often feels like a memorial service for a deceased loved one.  I remember growing up in my (wonderful, life-giving, Christ-shaping, God-exalting) church back at home in Hawaii.  The Lord’s Supper came once a quarter, and up front would be a table covered with a large cloth.  When it came time to receive Communion, the church leaders would come forward.  I remember a lot of them wearing black suits.  Two gentlemen would ceremonially lift and fold the table’s cloth, revealing the elements beneath.  The suited men stood reverently in a line, hands folded in front, as the pastor would talk seriously and somberly about what we were about to do. 

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.

Want to Be a Better Worship Songwriter?

Zac HicksSongwriting, Worship Leading Tips, Worship ResourcesLeave a Comment

I love it when I find a good online destination that “free-sources” quality material to the public.  Last week, I highlighted Fernando Ortega’s post calling out modern worship to embrace a more lofty vision for songwriting.  If you are or aspire to be a songwriter, and if you agree with Ortega’s assessment and admonition, I can think of no better site that will serve as a resource for you than My Song in the Night. Its masterminds are Bobby & … Read More

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.

FREE Pre-Release Song from Our New Album – Get it Now!

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


Hello, Readership.  In an effort to drum up support for our new album, Without Our Aid, we’re asking you to pass this link along to anyone and everyone you know (tweet it, FB it, email it).  We’re giving away one of our best songs on the album, “Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus,” absolutely free…we just ask that you tell others about it. 

“Hail” is probably the best all-in-one representation of the musical, philosophical, and theological aim of the Without Our Aid.  It has a live feel, energetic rhythm, great drumming, layered electrics, modern worship-styled vocal melodies, and unbeatable lyrics (I can brag, because I didn’t write them). 

GO GET THE SONG HERE (this link will only be available until Tuesday, September 13, so get it while you can!). 

Two New Hymns I’m Loving

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, Hymns Movement News & Reviews, Songwriting2 Comments

There is one man in our congregation that I can say loves old hymns even more than I do.  He’s got a Ph.D. in English Literature or something comparable, and he’s often firing off emails with obscure hymns.  He led me to these two.  I love them, and someone needs to put a new tune to these bad boys so the church doesn’t lose them: “God in the Gospel of His Son”Words: Benjamin Beddome, 1787 (verses 1-2); Thomas Cotterill, 1819 … Read More