Kevin Davis: "Throughout this special evening of worship the vertical lyrics and prayerful response of these songs for the Church were great reminders for Christians: 'that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.'"
Celebrating 20 years of music and ministry, modern worship trailblazer Paul Baloche is one of today’s most influential worship leaders, songwriters and mentors. The Same Love—Baloche’s 12th recording with Integrity Music—released March 13th. Co-produced with Ben Gowell and Michael Rossback, The Same Love forges a progressive path musically, while delivering 13 compelling tracks composed in community with accomplished songwriters Ben Fielding, Kari Jobe, Lincoln Brewster, Jason Ingram, Ed Kerr and All Sons & Daughters among others.
Best known for such modern classics as “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Above All,” “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising),” and “Your Name,” Paul Baloche’s songs have been recorded by numerous artists, including Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Matt Redman and Philips, Craig & Dean. And this three-time Dove Award-winning writer’s songs are sung by millions of worshipers around the world, with 21 of them included in the CCLI Top 500 list, indicating the songs most often used in North American churches.
With themes of God’s faithfulness and mercy through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, The Same Love showcases Baloche’s unbreakable connection to and passion for the Church.
For Paul Baloche, this spiritual journey is marked by songs, music that has moved from personal touchstones to collective signposts for millions of believers. His songs are intimate prayers that have become global anthems.
“Songwriting is a big part of my spiritual life,” Paul shares. “It helps me go deeper with God. It helps me fix my mind on Jesus, to set my mind on things above. It keeps my own heart fresh and alive, for myself, my family, and the Church. When I’m writing songs,” Paul says, “I think, ‘Will this help the Church worship God? Will this help people connect with Him?’ I want to make music that they can believe in.”
I had the great privilege to interview Paul Baloche and Kathryn Scott in person for upcoming “behind the song” devotionals, and then I attended their worshipful concert at Sovereign Grace Church in Marlton, New Jersey on Sunday, May 20, 2012. I’ve been singing Paul’s songs for many years and I’ve always wanted to worship with him in person, and it was a wonderful night of edification, praise, and ministry for the Church. After a brief introductory chorus of “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” we all sang “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” and “Because Of Your Love” in unison. There’s something about these great songs that immediately ushers in a spiritual and anointed response to these vertical lyrics. The capacity crowd of about 1,000 people all loudly proclaimed the catchy refrains: “Hosanna, Hosanna, You are the God who saves us, Worthy of all our Praises!” and “Because of Your Love, we’re forgiven!” Every song was truly about responding in gratitude to what God has done for us.
The order of songs was a highlight for me, as with Baloche’s abundant catalog I wasn’t exactly sure which songs we’d be singing together, and the next song “Our God Saves” was truly a highlight of the evening. I was pretty sure I was going to lose my voice by the end of the concert as those opening songs caused all of us to stay on our feet and sing with all of our hearts before the Lord. We then took our seats as Paul introduced his newest single and title track, “The Same Love.” I interviewed Paul about the song before the concert, and it is all about taking up your cross to follow Jesus. In "The Same Love," Baloche softly sings "the same Love that set the captives free The same love that opened eyes to see, Is calling us all by name, You are calling us all by name, The same God that spread the heavens wide, The same God that was crucified, Is calling us all by name, You are calling us all by name." Jesus is ever true to His Word. What He spoke on earth, He affirms in heaven. The Word is a message of grace. We can all take comfort in the Truth expressed in this song which comes directly from God's Word: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Amen to that!
One of my all-time favorite worship songs was next, “Above All.” Baloche co-wrote the song with Lenny LeBlanc and I’ve also worshipped with Michael W. Smith leading the incredibly moving song. Tears were streaming down my face as we all passionately cried out, “Crucified, laid behind a stone, You lived to die, rejected and alone, like a rose, trampled on the ground, You took the fall, and thought of me, above all.” That may be one of the most moving worship song refrains ever written and it was a privilege to sing it that night. I’m looking forward to responding to my King for eternity with those words of gratitude.
Next, Kathryn Scott joined Baloche on stage to sing “Your Name.” The song is yet another incredible song for the Church, and Kathryn’s sweet vocals were a great enhancement as she led the gorgeous second verse, “Jesus, in Your Name we pray, Come and fill our hearts today, Lord, give us strength to live for You and glorify Your Name.”
Kathryn Scott is an Irish worship leader whose songs including “Hungry” and “At the Foot of the Cross” have become favorites in churches around the world. In most of her music, something of Kathryn’s own spiritual journey comes through and her latest album, We Still Believe, is no exception. This, her third solo project, captures her struggle to understand God’s Kingdom on Earth while also knowing that “there’s got to be more than this.” It was awesome to be led by Kathryn singing her worship classic “Hungry” and I was swept up in the emotion of the lyrics and her powerful vocals as she sincerely led us in the chorus, “I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me, Jesus, You're all this heart is living for. Hungry, I come to You for I know, You satisfy, I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry...So I wait, so I wait, so I wait for You.” How many of us can truly say this? How many of us can say that this is our prayer or letter to God? Kathryn continued with three songs from We Still Believe: “Let It Come,”“We Still Believe” and the emotionally stirring “Child Of God.” We were all quite moved by her anointed voice and super-engaging smile and Irish accent. I especially loved the prayerful lyrics: “We still believe, and though the journey has been hard, We will confess Your goodness, God, We still believe.” If you love Praise and Worship music, you will want to pick up a copy of this album. If you are a fan of Darlene Zschech, Vicky Beeching and Rita Springer...definitely add Kathryn Scott to your list. She closed with her very compelling and title track from her last album, “I Belong.” “If you want more, you have to start off with a core belief that God’s good, otherwise your faith gets messed up,” Kathryn counseled. “Life’s hard. We have a very real enemy but God’s always good and if you stand on that, you can still trust Him when things you were hoping for don’t happen.”
Paul Baloche returned to the stage, and we were treated to another great new song for the Church, “King of Heaven.” He closed with three more classics, “All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises,” “Glorious” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” Once again we were all on our feet belting out the familiar and biblical lyrics: “You lived, You died, You said in three days You would rise, You did, You’re alive!” and “Glorious, my eyes have seen the glory of the Lord, Glorious He stands above, the rulers of the earth.” “’Glorious’ is about the adventure of being led by a living, active God,” Paul says. “It’s about looking beyond the cross, to look behind the mystery, to see the risen Savior. For us to live in the new covenant idea that Jesus Christ is alive in us. Instead of only looking back 2,000 years, we see the risen Christ now. Learning to be led by His Spirit, guided by His Spirit, and to discern the language of His Spirit,” Paul recalls, “My pastor told me that ‘Glorious’ feels like an answer to ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart.’ That original cry of my own heart, ‘Glorious’ paints a picture of seeing Jesus for who He is, as the risen Christ and the living God."
We closed with “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” The song is such a great way for us to respond in worship to God. Praise and worship is a heart condition, and an emotional connection to the words that we lift up to God. Our worship is an “Offering,” but God is the One who made the way for us to be with Him. When you sing along with this great song, make sure you are in prayer that you are submitting all of yourself to God. The biblical concept for this iconic song for the Church comes right from Ephesians 1:18: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.” What an awesome way to usher in God’s presence! We closed with an upbeat rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”
Throughout this special evening of worship the vertical lyrics and prayerful response of these songs for the Church were great reminders for Christians: “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Amen to that!
Posted June 12, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters. (Photos courtesy of Luis Toro.)