Every week at church services, youth group meetings, on the radio, and in our home, millions of people probably sing a worship song written or influenced by UK-born worship leader, Matt Redman. Known for such songs as “The Heart of Worship,” “Blessed Be Your Name,” “You Never Let Go,” and a slew of others, Redman recently released his latest album, 10,000 Reasons (Sparrow) and a book, Mirror Ball (David C. Cook). This busy father of five also co-writes songs with his wife (I just had to throw that in here!) took time out to provide insightful answers about new album, books, and life in general in Backseat Writer’s latest Take 5.
You’re released eight albums, written several books, and compose songs that are sung in millions of churches every week. What is it like to look back on your career? To think back to when you first started plucking out tunes on a guitar?
Honestly, I feel so encouraged by all that has happened through the songs. And yet I know that what people are responding to isn’t some kind of creative cleverness or innovation on my part. They’re responding to the truth in the songs—the wonders of a God who is utterly high above and yet knows our names and holds our lives. I have a deep conviction that if we can write songs that present the truth of Jesus in a real and relevant way, they’ll make an impact somehow.
One of the biggest surprises and encouragements has been how some of the songs have traveled to different countries around the world. It’s so fascinating to show up in some part of Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe and start to lead a song like “Blessed Be Your Name” and realize people already know it. Of course, this whole thing also carries a weight of responsibility. For any of us writing and recording congregational songs, as exciting as that is, we also need to realize the seriousness of putting words into people’s mouths in worship. There’s a responsibility to try and make sure the songs are thoroughly biblical and honoring to God.
Your newest album, 10,000 Reasons, was recorded live with over 1,000 participants at LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective—why did you choose live over studio recording?
There’s something about the people of God coming together and singing their hearts out which is just so powerful. If you can capture the essence of that on a record, in can be a really wonderful thing. I hope that is what’s happened with this 10,000 Reasons record. The people at LIFT were a complete joy to lead in worship. I loved how they sung out to God through these new songs with such passion, and even created their own crowd harmonies a few times which we didn’t teach them. I guess that’s what happens when you get a thousand worship leaders and singers in one room! The whole LIFT event was brilliant. Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin hosted it and I felt like the flow of the whole couple of days was just so inspiring.
While all the songs on 10,000 Reasons are meaningful, would you please share the story behind a song or two on the new album?
“Never Once” is a song of God’s faithfulness. When we look over our lives we soon see what an amazing track record Jesus has in our lives and that gives us a great hope for the future. In one way we don’t know what the future holds, but in another way we do. It will be sure to be filled with the goodness and greatness of God shining down upon our lives. I love an old Charles Spurgeon quote, “The future is as bright as promises of God.” What a fantastic thought.
This song was written shortly after we left the USA and moved back to the UK. Our house in Atlanta was still unsold, and I was back there for a few days. My family was gone, and so was all the furniture. So I stood there in that empty, echoing room with just my guitar and started to think about the faithful hand of God in my family’s life. He’s provided for us for this two yearlong Atlanta adventure, and even though I didn’t know exactly what the future held, I had such a strong sense that He would continue to be enough for us. The chorus of the song says “Never once did we ever walk alone; Never once did You leave us on our own.” I wrote this song with Jason Ingram and a UK friend named Tim Wanstall, and we really hope that is will breathe hope into the lives of those who sing it.
The title song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” was the last song to be written before the live recording. In fact, it only got finished a few days beforehand. My co-writer friend Jonas Myrin kept telling me he had a chorus melody idea, but my mind was spinning with trying to finish so many other song ideas that I kept telling him I didn’t want to hear a new one. But then one night after a day of writing I said, “Why don’t you just play me that idea quickly?” And the moment he played it we started wrapping some lyrics inspired by Psalm 103 around it. Actually about 75% of those verses I reckon were spontaneously, there and then. I think I still have an iPhone recording of that happening; it was just such a fantastic moment.
Songs don’t always get written so fast, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with some hard work and perspiration when it comes to the creative process. But now and again you get a little inspired worship moment like this, and it can be really special. The song of course became the title of the album, and I’m so grateful for it.
Yes, I’m excited about the Mirror Ball’s release. I wrote it on and off over the period of about three years. Some of the themes of the album songs actually tie in with the content of the book. In fact, some of the song names also ended up being chapter titles in the book. The main theme of the book is living boldly and shining brightly for the glory of God. My hope is that it could inject a new confidence into the lives of many worshippers of Jesus, that they truly might get a sense that their lives can make a difference in the kingdom of God.
And our last question is just for fun. What are some hilarious things that people assume about you because you’re from England? (Or just share something funny. Let’s have a good laugh together.)
You have no idea how many people from the USA asked me, “Did you get invited to the Royal Wedding?”! I’m sorry to say the answer (of course) is “no”!
For more information on Matt Redman, visit him online at his online hub, MattRedman.com, where you can find chord charts for 10,000 Reasons and Matt’s previous album, We Will Not Be Shaken, Matt’s online store, how to connect with Matt on social networks, and a plethora of news and insight into Matt’s life.