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This Is Our God

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Aug
This Is Our God
Sounds like … big-church contemporary worship like only Hillsong can deliver, similar to albums from New Life Church, Gateway Worship, and Lakewood LiveAt a glance … the newest chapter from Hillsong doesn't skimp on liveliness, but it does in offering fresh, thoughtful expressions of corporate praiseTrack Listing Your Name High Run Desert Song This Is Our God He Is Lord High and Lifted Up Stronger Healer You Are Here (The Same Power) You Deserve Across the Earth Where We Belong Sing to the Lord You'll Come Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus With Everything

One of the most prolific music ministries in the world is that of Hillsong Live, the praise team from Australia's Hillsong Church. Already in its 17th concert recording—not counting ancillary studio projects, youth and children's albums, or music from subsidiaries the world over—the group presents This Is Our God, and anticipation is sky-high. Thanks to the popularity of Hillsong United, the church's youth band, worshippers worldwide now wait expectantly for the ministry's next major release.

Interestingly, worship pastor Darlene Zschech seems to be aware of the changing face of Hillsong—her involvement is becoming less and less prominent, making way for others to take center stage. This delegation of duties is a double-edged sword, especially in the area of songwriting. It's refreshing to see new, young faces putting pen to paper, but not everyone who does so is necessarily a great songwriter.

The closest thing to the usual Hillsong standard doesn't come until the sixth track, "High and Lifted Up," and sure enough, it's the only song on the album written by Zschech. Even so, that song is very typical for Hillsong: congregational, for certain, but all too familiar and commonplace in the church's extensive canon. And that's the problem with the bulk of This Is Our God: Worshippers will be hard-pressed to discover fresh expressions of praise. Even the title track, which is traditionally the huge standout anthem that reflects the spirit of Hillsong Australia, falls flat here—an underwhelming signpost that's a far cry from recent titular classics like "Mighty to Save" and "Saviour King."

Right now, the only composer from the Hillsong community consistently delivering strong materials is Brooke Fraser, a singer/songwriter who moonlights as a worship leader while working full-time as a successful recording artist. Her two contributions to This Is Our God are both highlights: "Desert Song" is an alt-pop number about worshipping in every season of life, while "You'll Come" is a driving anthem expressing longing for Christ's soon return. As well-written as those are, they're not typical of the album or likely to be embraced as new worship standards around the world.

The buzz song of the album is "Healer," a stirring cry by worship leader Mike Guglielmucci, written after he was diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis of six months to live. Nearly two years later, he stepped on to the stage, oxygen tank in hand, to deliver the most memorable song of the night. [It's since been revealed that Guglielmucci's story is a hoax.]

The performance is stirring—one of Hillsong's very best in recent years—but "Healer" and Fraser's two compositions alone do not a great album make. It's disappointing, considering the wealth of talent and resources at the megachurch, which you'd think would lead to a wealth of new repertoire. Tighter songcraft, less tolerance for platitudes, and a better cliché detector can only help Hillsong Live commit only the best of what they have to offer to a recording. After all, the world is listening.

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