Meet & Greet: Twila Paris
- 2003 3 Apr
Twila Paris doesn't spend a lot of time looking back at 22 years of success as a songwriter and recording artist. Despite 32 No. 1 songs, five Dove Awards, three American Songwriter Awards, three books published and more than 2 million albums sold, the numbers don't mean much to her. Whether it's in music, ministry, marriage or motherhood, for Twila, true success isn't about numbers. It's about faithfulness. "My dad once said, 'The definition of success is simple: God's faithfulness plus my faithfulness equals success.' Of course, God's faithfulness is a given; the only variable is my faithfulness. So no matter what you accomplish or whether people think you're successful or not, it all comes down to that."
Throughout her career as an artist and songwriter, a huge component of that standard has been in giving songs of worship back to the church as an offering for the One who has always been faithful to her. On each of her 17 previous albums, the songs that have resonated most with listeners have been those that have a definitive worship aspect. Songs like "We Will Glorify" and "He Is Exalted" have transcended the music business, making their way into the hymnody of the church, forever captured in time in hymnals all over the world.
Worship is a calling and a privilege she doesn't take lightly. "To be called to minister through music is such a wonderful gift from God. To be given the gift itself is amazing, but to write and sing music for the glory of God, fulltime, as your life's work is an incredible privilege. ... That my songs are used by the Church is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. I know these songs have an eternal value, a higher purpose than what I could've imagined. I'm just the instrument through which He has moved."
When the time came to record her 18th album, Twila simply couldn't shake the idea of eternity-of Christians across time and space bowing down and worshiping God in one accord. She knew it was time to record a complete worship album, something she hadn't done since 1991's Sanctuary.
"Over the years, God has made worship a constant thread in my life and music, always responding to my times of personal worship in presence and power," Twila says. "When I look back over the music, worship songs are sprinkled here and there, on various projects, just as they came." As she struggled through the exhaustion and all the questions that come with being a new mother, as well as a case of writer's block, Twila found it impossible to approach her craft as she had in the past. She had to focus on higher things.
"After the birth of J.P., I found myself in that place of wondering whether I'd write again, which created an anxiety in me. I was forced to be away from my instrument, so I couldn't rely on the chords I'd always fallen back on, which made the writing process more difficult." The result, she says, is different, distinctive and fresh.
Produced by Brown Bannister (Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant), House of Worship is more than another album in a sea of new music for worship. It is a lyrical homecoming of a true worship music pioneer, a compelling, collection of songs for today born out of personal worship encounters with God. With a distinctively organic production and profound yet simple lyrics, these songs paint with broad strokes and brilliant colors the faithfulness, worthiness and preeminence of God as only a modern psalmist can.
"God of All," the album's upbeat call to worship, sets the tone for the entire effort. "It's one of those songs, like so many of David's Psalms, that focuses on the attributes of God." Twila says. "It's faith turned upward, joyfully." The three songs that follow-"Glory and Honor," "You Are God" and "For Eternity"-keep the focus heavenward.
Emotive and piano-driven, "Make Us One" is a bold and passionate prayer for God to unify His children in love and holiness. "It's not cool or musically impressive," she says of the song. "But it's something I feel God wants to remind us of in this moment in time. He is calling us to be one body. I hope that as we sing it, we'll open up those darker corners of our lives to God and allow Him to teach us to love."
Two big bonuses on House of Worship are the re-recorded versions of Paris' classics "We Bow Down" and "We Will Glorify," which not only prove these songs as timeless as the day they were written, but also reveal how much more relevant they become in a more modern setting, with the benefit of vocal richness that comes with maturity.
Without the fanfare or interruptions of a live album, without artistic pretense or spiritual cliche, House of Worship draws individual listeners away from the distractions of life and self, toward Christ, the Savior and sustainer of all. And at the same time provides vibrant, new songs for corporate expression, appropriate for traditional, blended and even more modern worship settings. It is worship, full of spirit and ripe with truth.
No Time Like The Present
For Twila Paris, who has been at the forefront of contemporary worship for over two decades, House of Worship signifies a bold new step in the same direction, and yet plenty has changed. "I can't recall a time when I was more excited about what God is doing through worship than I am right now," Twila says. "We are living in a season in which God has been reigniting a passion for worship in His people. There's a new passion in the body of Christ for worship. There is a greater understanding of the heart of worship, and more of an effort to really worship in spirit and in truth.
"God uses worship to heal us, to win battles in the spiritual realm, to draw those who don't know Him, to encourage His children to refocus, to prepare, to realign our priorities... and ultimately to change us and make us more like Him. But all these reasons are secondary. Worship is not about what we get out of it. At the end of the day, we only need one reason. We worship Him because He is worthy. We worship Him for who He is.... And if no other reason existed, that would be enough. "