- Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The worship music flowing from the Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, is having an undeniable impact on believers and non-believers around the world today. From the huge congregations of mega churches to smaller cell churches, the original sounds and heartfelt lyrics of these songs are inspiring worshipers to draw closer to God. One of the premier songwriters and worship leaders helping to continue this rich Hillsong tradition today is Reuben Morgan.
Reuben began attending Hillsong Church in 1995 when he moved to Sydney to study at the Institute of Music. He eventually became involved in the youth ministry and youth music team at the church where he would came under the tutelage of phenomenal songwriter and worship leader Darlene Zschech. Fast-forward to today: Reuben is now a key songwriter and worship leader in the Hillsong ministry, and his songwriting credits include "My Redeemer Lives," "You Said," "Touching Heaven, Changing Earth," and many others. But it was during his early days at the church that Reuben wrote "I Give You My Heart," a heartfelt song that would eventually become a standard in today's worshiping church.
It was while he was studying at the Institute of Music that Reuben wrote the song. Just a week before he was due to go minister with friends, he was involved in a car accident that reminded him just how fragile and uncertain his life was. It was during his reflection in the aftermath of that accident that a new song began to take shape. Reuben remembers: "Later that week I was writing and playing around with a melodic idea that I had been working on and it was like, just for a moment, I tapped into this deeper well and I was singing 'Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul...' over and over." Then, as it had happened before for Reuben, and as it has happened many times since, all the pieces just fell into place. "It's a prayer I had been praying for a while and it all just fit together, one of those songs that seemed to write itself," says Reuben.
Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take
Every moment I'm awake
Lord, have Your way in me
Reuben immediately felt in his heart that the new song was personally relevant, but he soon began thinking that it might also speak to others. He felt so strongly about the song, in fact, that he mustered up the nerve to bring it to one of the church musicians for consideration. Much to Reuben's surprise, the congregation sang the song that night, and the memory is one he still carries with him today. "I remember there being a definite response to the song, and that was the first time I ever heard our congregation sing a song that I had written," says Reuben. "It's a great memory to have."
Since then, "I Give You My Heart" has become one of Reuben's most recognizable and most recorded tunes, remaining in the CCLI top 50 and taking its place among other well-known Hillsong standards like Darlene Zschech's "Shout To The Lord" and "The Potter's Hand." Most recently, it has been featured on Michael W. Smith's Worship Again, SONICFLOOd vocalist Jeff Deyo's Saturate and on the Hillsong Music Australia release, Extravagant Worship: The Songs of Reuben Morgan.
As far as inspiration, Reuben says that he's never needed to look any further than his mentor Darlene Zscech or Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston, just two of the people that he credits with inspiring him through their lives and their walks with God. Reuben is also of the opinion that there is something to learn, at least musically, from just about everybody, and although he cites musical influences as diverse as Bach, Mozart, Cold Play, Delirious?, Keith Green and Darlene Zschech, he still tends to think of songwriting as an organic process. "There's a verse in the Psalms that says, 'From Him comes the theme of my praise...'" explains Reuben. "I've noticed the more I think on the Bible, the more naturally the themes and heart of the Bible come out when I'm writing." And although it may sometimes be tempting to do otherwise, he still tries to resist the impulse to follow a formula when writing. Says Reuben, "I never try too hard to shape songs around a particular doctrine, because it usually sounds like that's what I've tried to do. What seems to be the way of it is just in the natural life rhythms of learning and devotion. The best songs flow naturally when I allow myself to be as honest as I can be."
J. Gary Walker is a writer and editor who lives in Mobile, Alabama.
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