Nicole Witt: "I think the biggest thing that people deal with is they think they are the only one who is broken and everyone else is perfect. That's just not the case."
When Christian singer-songwriters Christa Wells & Nicole Witt create together, songs are born that reflect both art and faith with integrity. When they unite voices and instruments in live performance, what happens is a unique fusion of Christa's gentle indie-folk-pop and Nicole's compelling country-bluegrass style.
With simple instrumentation--piano and violin--they speak truth and love and lead listeners to worship and deeper understanding of the Gospel. Their common passion is to honor God by loving His people and making music that matters.
Christa Wells' poignant lyrics and melodies have captivated listeners in songs recorded by artists such as Plumb, Point of Grace, Selah, and Sara Groves. In 2006, she was recognized as GMA Songwriter of the Year for her song "Held," released by Natalie Grant. Christa has released two solo albums to date. Frame the Clouds, released in 2009, includes performances by Sara Groves, Plumb, Nicole Witt, and Todd Smith (Selah). Last year's How Emptiness Sings is one of my Top 5 albums of 2011.
Nicole Witt is an accomplished writer, whose songs have been recorded by artists such as George Strait, Lauren Alaina, Rodney Atkins, Terri Clark, and Point of Grace. Her work on George Strait's album helped propel that album to CMA and Grammy awards for "Album of the Year" and "Country Album of the Year," respectively. Nicole has recorded four albums that highlight her songwriting ability and talent as a performer. In 2011, her song "Trains I Missed" was named "Song of the Year" at the International Bluegrass Awards.
After four years of writing and performing together, Christa and Nicole released their first joint recording, a five-song EP of original worship music. Image of God began with the composition of the title track for a retreat they would co-host with author/speaker Ann Voskamp and has been described as "an incredibly tender worship offering to God." Both feel incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to sing for the glory of God.
I had the great opportunity to interview Christa and Nicole together about their great new worship song "Image of God."
Please share the background message of the song "Image of God."
Christa: I was reflecting on our connection with Ann Voskamp and how we first were invited to create this women's retreat called "In The Image of the Maker." The retreat's theme was how we were created to create, and Ann spoke to the women about being made to be makers as a reflection of God's artistry. We then planned for another retreat which we completed this summer. The theme has carried throughout which was in the second retreat about brokenness, which is inherent in this song as well. We wrote this song together before the first retreat.
We had both read Ann's book One Thousand Gifts and her blog and communicated with her for a couple of years. We felt it would be special to write a song for this group of women coming to the retreat. As it turned out, the bridge was Ann's contribution. We were after this idea of how even in God's restoration of our brokenness and ugliness, there's artistry in that process. It's all about Him making things beautiful through redemption. Throughout scripture, Jesus came precisely because we are diseased and discolored, not in spite of it. These people Jesus stopped for on the road and who reached out for Him were sinful and had dysfunction in their lives, had faulty belief systems, and were broken people. That's exactly what Jesus came to do--to heal and to make people whole. Ann beautifully connects our brokenness and His brokenness. We come to the Cross broken to meet Him at that perfect place where He was broken for us. We share His suffering in that way.
Please tell me which Bible verses you used in writing the song.
Genesis 1:26: Then God said, "Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
…Psalm 139:14: I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
…Ephesians 4:2-6: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
…and Revelation 21:5-7: He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
How can listeners apply that message when they listen to the song?
Nicole: We are all broken, and we were made in the image and likeness of God. We are to cast all of our cares on the Lord and He will sustain us. It's been an important song and healing song for me personally. I think the biggest thing that people deal with is they think they are the only one who is broken and everyone else is perfect. That's just not the case. The longer I live on this earth, the more I realize that we are all so broken, and we are all so in need of our Savior. We all come in pieces, we all come in fragments and part of the healing is when we come together as a congregation, community, or small prayer group. God made us to come together and share our brokenness. That's where healing takes place.
Christa: Each one of us as individuals can take solace in God's promise that He's going to shape me, this ugly lump of clay, into something usable and purposeful for Him. My heart's cry these past couple of years is to see the Church united as peacemakers, ambassadors of love and to help people who are suffering in poverty around us. I just heard Ravi Zacharias say, "Unity doesn't require uniformity." I love that, because if we can all acknowledge that although church services can look different, and we have different preferences, doesn't mean on a deeper level that we need to have fragmentation. Individually we are made in God's image. The glorious thing is that as we are individually made whole, and then come together as the Church and made whole, we can really more wholly reflect God's glory and His beauty.
Bare feet stepping on glass
We break along life's paths
Our fear and loss, we bring it all to You
Soul-breather, making all things new
You're making all things new
We come in pieces
We come in fragments
We come discolored
To the foot of the cross
Our Maker sees us
All that we have been
Bonds us together
The Image of God
Clay vessels molded for His own
Shall we question Him who holds
And shapes us, for His perfect use
Soul-breather, making all things new
You're making all things new
Soil breaking for the seed
Seed breaking for the life
His life broken for the soul
We are remade whole, remade whole
"Image of God" opens with a stirring violin part, and is an incredibly tender worship offering to God and a beautiful song. The song has a gorgeous blend of violin, piano and Christa's stellar vocals. I really love the chorus: "We come in pieces, we come in fragments, we come discolored to the foot of the Cross... our Maker sees us, all that we have been, bonds us together... the image of God." The song is profound and moving. If you like prayerful songs that bring you to the Throne Room in worship like "Blessings" by Laura Story and "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant, then don't miss out on this incredible song for the Church.
Christa and Nicole, thanks for extremely blessing me with your incredible music and voices. Nicole's violin and voice blend seamlessly with Christa's piano and voice, which is soothing like Sarah McLachlan, Brooke Fraser and Sara Groves. "Image of God" is my new favorite worship song. You can't help but want to reach out and be the Kingdom of God on earth as beautifully expressed in the song. This album grabs me with every song. Truly, every song is amazing. Christa has always had a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually and expressing the prayerful yearnings of my heart. This album is no exception as I get welled up praying along with several of the songs and most of all, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the heart behind this album, and thank you Christa and Nicole for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God. This album soothes, moves and challenges listeners. Image of God by Christa Wells & Nicole Witt is a profound listening experience.
I recently finished reading David Platt's best-selling book, Radical. In the last chapter of his book, Platt challenges readers to a radical one-year experiment. "Throughout this book we have explored a variety of bold claims about our purpose in life that are contradicted by the American dream," Platt writes. "Claims such as these: Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy in found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience and enjoy."
As we approach a Presidential election, if we as a Church body can rally around the idea that we are admittedly and without shame in need of a Savior, we can trust wholly in Jesus to make us whole. Then we can impact the world as a body of believers. It's our humility in Christ that can speak loudly in this broken world. Amen to that!
Posted October 30, 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.