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Musical Mention: Only Jesus – Austin Stone Worship

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

Fresh from Austin Stone Worship comes their first(?) album for kids.

ONLY JESUS

1. Jesus Forever
2. King of Everything
3. Only Jesus
4. You Made Everything
5. Rescue for My Soul
6. Center My Life
7. I Found a Treasure
8. Tell the World
9. Trust
10. We Are One

THOUGHTS

Firstly… nailed it on the resources available for each of the songs! Each of the songs has myriad different downloads and info available online. From this page you can click on each song and see just what delights await you! This seems to be standard operating practice for all their music. Love it!

There doesn’t seem to be a lot written about the album itself, but if you dig into the Family Worship Guide you can find a few words written about the project.

From a blog post by Kids Pastor John Murchison its very clear that the goal is to not only create catchy songs but ones that teach theology. These are songs to be discussed and explained as you sing them with kids!

Because one of the main goals of our worship times is to teach our children truth about God, we take great care to make sure that the songs are age-appropriate and theologically accurate, all the way down to the songs we sing for the little ones.

So musically it sits in the middle of guitar rock and dance music. Real sounding drums, guitars, with pulsing synths. A very familiar sound to those who listen to modern worship music. Top notch tracks and mix with pro lead vocals.

There’s a little choir in the mix in certain songs, like King of Everything and Only Jesus, which I know I keep going on about, but it’s important for an album like this with no kids leading the worship songs.

This feels like a serious album for kids, made by adults for kids, which is a strange thing to say but relevant because I think these songs could be sung by adults in ‘big Church’.

FAVOURITE TRACK

I Found A Treasure – This is one of the songs that uses lyrics that I think kids would use and is that sweet spot between a ‘worship’ and a ‘praise’ song with moments for jumping and reflection and some Ooohs 🙂

We Are One – Another worshipful praise song that I think would really help your group of kids identify with the Church and the kids/leaders around them.

Outcome… get yourself over to their resources page and get these songs going in your kids ministry. Oh, an tell them when you use them (twitter/facebook etc. because I know they love to hear where these songs go!

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I Say Quite a Lot in This Video

So back last year I filmed an interview with the esteemable Luke Harris all about Curriculum and Kids Ministry. Just watched is back recently. I said some good things, you should check it out!

Creative Curriculum Writing (With David Wakerley)

P.S. There is actually a bunch of great resources on this channel that you should watch from some great people in ministry, like Frank Bealer from Elevation Church, Craig Johnson from Lakewood Church and a bunch of Aussies like Andy Kirk, Tammy Tolman and Sean W Smith.

INC Pastoral Resources

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Just Emailed These Thoughts

For months now I have been meaning to sit down and write down some thoughts for kids songwriting for our team at Hillsong Kids. Well yesterday I took a moment and furiously typed as fast as my 50 words a minute fingers could type. Here is the output without editing for your edification it’s for our team so somethings may not make much sense!

GET YOUR SONG HEARD!

Okay, this is a stream of consciousness thoughts on writing songs for kids.

  • Make sure you listen to the latest songs to catch the vibe of where we are at (planning centre).
  • Avoid cliches, phrases that are well worn in other songs, one or two in a song is okay, but 3-4-5 and the song becomes meaningless to the singer (eg. You took my shame–I praise your name; filled my soul–made me whole etc.)
  • You should be able to sum up your song in a sentence.
  • We are looking for a lyrical hook so find interesting ways of saying common truths for kids. eg. ‘At the start of this life I found You, you found me’, (not just I have known you my whole life) ‘I give you my Hallelujah’ (not just I give you my Praise).
  • Send through 3 songs minimum. It is far easier to evaluate 3 songs and find some gold than just look at one and not find anything. We want to encourage writers not demoralise them If you haven’t got three songs then keep going until you do, then put them all together
  • Include typed lyrics with the track. The Lord will turn his face from you if you submit a song without written lyrics.
  • Guitar and voice, or keys and voice are fine, do not spend too much time making a sweet demo track. The gold WILL shine through even the roughest of recordings.
  • No need to even create an arrangement of the track – as they say “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”.

SONGWRITING THEMES:

  • Currently we are looking for songs about – Wisdom (Psalms, Proverbs, Parables)
  • Fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience
  • Songs about Praising God are ALWAYS accepted
  • Worship songs about trusting
  • Unusual Miracles
  • New Rivers, New Roads (Is 43)
  • The Holy Spirit

AVOID:

  • Talking about creation, we have enough songs about God created the earth and hung the stars. (eg. Superhero)
  • Silly songs (eg. I think I’m gonna throw up, I think I’m gonna throw up, I think I’m gonna throw up my hands and praise the Lord)
  • Introspection and Melancholy – These are not universal themes for children (save them for United).
  • Getting children to make promises or vows they cannot keep (eg. “I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything, at any cost for you my King.”)
  • Singing lyrics from God’s perspective can be tricky.
  • When you have finished a song, just check through for the words me and my. If they appear again and again look at the focus of the song. We love songs full of Him,
  • His, even Our rather than Mine is an improvement.

IMPORTANT:

I noticed recently with a bunch of new worship songs written for kids were focussing on the singers behaviour, their virtues or their actions. (eg. I’m gonna DO this or that FOR you God). It subtly tells our Children that the Christian life is about what we do for God. It tells them that the things that we could accomplish for him are the most important. When this is repeated over and over it can be exhausting for a kid, who in almost every area of their lives are ranked. We want Church to be an oasis in a life that is spent getting graded and lined up according to ability and worth.

We want Church to be a place of acceptance and rest, a place to be built up and encouraged.

P.S. Here is some more thoughts on Songwriting!

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Musical Mention: The Great Adventure – Dan Warlow

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

It’s way overdue, but I need to highlight my friend Dan Warlow’s first album recording.

Dan Warlow is an Australian singer-songwriter who is passionate about building strong faith-foundations in young people. With his energetic and engaging style, Dan conveys scriptural truths and the life-giving message of Jesus through songs that the whole family can enjoy, not just the kids.

I keep bumping into Dan around the tracks here in Australia and love that he is just going for it, and following his dreams!

THE GREAT ADVENTURE

1. The Celebration song
2. Great adventure.
3. Creator God
4. With all my heart.
5. God’s Amazing Book
6. I want to hear your voice
7. Under your wings.
8. You are faithful
9. God’s big love (light of the world)
10. There is nothing our God cannot do

THOUGHTS

This is a acoustic driven album in the vein of Colin Buchanan and Sean W Smith. It’s a little but country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. There is nothing too fancy going on with the production, but it’s also just what is needed – it’s just right. Lead vocals are perfectly clear… important for kids comprehension.

Lyrically it covers well worn material – a ‘God created everything song’, some ‘jump around songs’, and a Bible song. But it all sounds fresh and not at all tired.

Full marks for a kids choir on a few tracks like the title track ‘Great Adventure’ if you follow my blog posts you’ll know I love a bit of kids singing on the album.

We need lyrics on your website Dan 🙂 and if possible some lyric videos for use in Churches!

FAVOURITE TRACK

Okay, God’s Big Love is my standout on this album. It’s a tried and true version of John 3:16 but for me the track shines on the album. Great guitars/synths that match the style really well. A great bridge with some woah’s just tops the track off!

Keep it up Dan, the best is yet to come!

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Musical Mention: Strong In Me – TFH Worship

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

Another kids worship release out of nowhere.

Heather commented in my last post and alerted me to this fantastic new EP.

TFH Worship is the worship ministry of The Father’s House church, based out of Vacaville, CA but with additional locations in Napa and East Bay. TFH Kids is proud to partner with TFH Worship to release “Strong In Me,” a kids worship album for the whole family. These songs are fun, and powerful and we’ve produced them so that you’ll want more regardless of age!

The Church is also a part of the Hillsong Network, so I am a big fan already!

STRONG IN ME

Tracklisting:

1. Don’t Have To Wait
2. The Way
3. Stronger
4. God Is With Me
5. You’re Everything

5 Tracks. I’ll take it, I want more, but you gotta start somewhere 🙂

THOUGHTS

This album continues the trend of albums produced for kids ministries by the worship ministry of the Church. (Planetshakers recent release, eKids etc.) They bring their expertise and strength to the table and pull off great with the kids in mind. It’s great to see a couple of slower songs, Stronger and God is with Me in the mix. It’s a bigger challenge to write worship songs for kids that keep them engaged.

Production values are fantastic, great mixes and excellent arrangements. The music does exactly what it needs to do and doesn’t get in the way of the message!

Get some kids voices on there and I am a happy man. Again, it’s tough to find really strong kid vocalists but worth the effort. And as with all releases, it’s great to see lyric videos we can use in live worship… looking forward to the next one!

FAVOURITE SONGS

Okay, so I’m gonna pick just one because of the brevity of the album 🙂

The Way – Great EDM sounding track and lyrics, especially the acapella intro,  it’s uncommon and catchy. I really like how each section of the song flows into the next – verse to chorus to bridge – it keeps the song moving. “I know who I am, I know how to dance, And praise Your name” – simple lyrics declaring truth, as long as your definition of dancing includes my kind of awkward gyrating.

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Musical Mention: Turn It Up – Kidspring

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

It was a normal day just scrollin’ through the twitter feed when I am confronted with this:

So I jumped right on it to iTunes and check it out.

Turn It Up

“Turn It Up” is the newest album from KidSpring, the children’s ministry at NewSpring Church. It’s a two-disc set, featuring songs like Wise Up, My Faith is in You, and When I Look. Whether your kids are preschool or elementary age, they will love learning about Jesus as they sing along! “Turn It Up” will be available on iTunes and at any NewSpring campus on March 1!

First of all, 21 tracks… calm down… that’s just showing off.

Tracklisting

1. When I Look
2. Pirate Party
3. Do Not Give Up
4. Wiggle Worm
5. We Are Royalty
6. We’re Not Scared
7. You Are The Treasure
8. 1. Timothy 4:12
9. Jesus Love Me (The Bible Tells Me So Remix)
10. Love Will Never End
11. Detective Shuffle
12. Praise The Lord
13. Wise Up
14. Another Level
15. Set An Example
16. Away We Go
17. My Faith Is In You
18. Royalty
19. Clean Up Rap
20. Eyes On You
21. Love Will Never Fail

THOUGHTS

Having a listen through I recognised a few tunes like ‘We’re Not Scared’ which we used at Hillsong Kids as a memory verse song a few months ago. It looks like this is a perfect example of what I think more Churches should do, put together a bunch of songs that the kids have been singing at Church, there is a fantastic mix of early childhood songs, primary/elementary songs, praise and worship, and even program songs like a clean up rap.

NOTE: At Hillsong Kids we have the tidy up song which you can get right here, and use every week at Church, and I love this Clean up song they use at Kidspring!

FAVOURITE SONGS

It’s a real mix that everyone should check out and grab to use with their Church ministry, or even at home… you know you need a clean up song right?

Clean Up Rap – Get it for Church, get it for home.

Eyes On You – This is a bit of music producer talk, but I love a half time chorus and this song will rock for your preteen kids at Church.

My Faith Is In You – Rock and roll praise done well declaring great things about God!

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Mike Johnson failed me

So here’s the thing. I love scouring the worlds internets to find music that is created specifically for Christian Kids, especially for use in Praise and Worship during weekend services. You can read all of the musical mention posts I have written in the past few months on the blog.

At Hillsong Kids we have used Elevate Curriculum and I have met Mike Johnson the creator at a CPC conference in San Diego in the past and he an almost embarrassingly generous man. But how did the knowledge of this series of albums pass-by me?

Radio E is the music from the Elevate curriculum series released in a series of collections. Some of the songs are specific to their curriculum, but there is a ton of praise music scattered all over the resource!

But somehow, the obvious extreme marketing efforts have somehow missed me? Here is the description from their website:

Tell the kids in your ministry how they can listen to Elevate music all week long! They can download the same music they hear at church from their favorite online music store! Radio E Music can be found on iTunesGoogle PlayAmazon MP3Spotify and much more. Preschool, Elementary, and generic music graphics available.

You can kinda check out the videos here: www.elevateathome.com/shop/music/ but it doesn’t appear to let you download videos?

So I am going to have to leverage the impressive reach and influence of my very influential blog* to make sure you have all heard about this incredible collection. And also put the pressure on Mike and his team to release lyric videos/backing versions of the praise and worship songs!

My theory is they should put together a collection of the praise and worship songs and create a resource we can use this weekend… (not literally, but soon would be great).

Yours Sincerely,

David Wakerley

P.S. I’m a big fan Mike… and of the producer of this music!

FOOTNOTES

*Not really

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Musical Mention: Light of the World – Johnny Burns

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

This week I highlight an Australian Artist Johnny Burns based right here in Sydney. He has released a bunch of music starting way back in 2000 for kids. Let Your Light Shine is his latest album.

Every song is based on one of my favourite Bible Verses. I guess you could call it “Pop Memory Verses”. The highlight for me in making this CD was doing some vocal collaborations with a range of really cool singers. I have chosen a range of Bible verse, from both the Old and New Testaments, which have really meant a lot to me during my Christian walk.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

5 Johnny Burns Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine is Johnny’s 4th children’s album. Working with his long time friend and producer, Wayne D’Chong, the two have delivered an album full of catchy songs teaching the Word of God.

Special guest vocalists joining Johnny on the album include Colin Buchanan, Rob Smith, Alanna Rodgers (from GarageHymnal), Dave Hanbury (from Revive), and the beautiful harmonies of Jacqui, Katie & Christine Host.

Tracklisting

1. Let your light shine – Matt 5:16
2. Light of the World – John 8:12
3. If – 1 John 1:8-9
4. The Wisdom Song – Jam 1:5
5. May I never boast – Gal 6:14
6. Clap your hands – Psa 47:1-2
7. The Lord looks at the heart – 1 Sam 16:7
8. Love Love Love (One Another) – John 13:34-35
9. He is good – Psa 145:8-9
10. Ask, seek, knock – Matt 7:7-8
11. The plans I have for you – Jer 29:11
12. Your word is – Psa 119:105
13. Seventy times seven – Matt 18:21-22
14. Trust in the Lord – Prov 3:5-6
15. Holy holy holy – Rev 4:8

THOUGHTS

This album was released in July 2012 and like the rest of Johnny’s releases is a mix of live instruments and electronic instruments. The mixes are quality and the lead vocals are never lost and clear as a bell (important for kids). Having Colin Buchanan, the ultimate Aussie kids performer on the album brings the guitars out and they wield the country lick with class.

Now one of my big focuses as always is can you use this music for praise and worship with your kids and a really great way is to produce ‘lyrics videos’ to use on your weekends. It’s a bit of a necessity these days and I would love to see these produced, even sing-a-long versions like previous albums.

I seem to say this a lot, but they have nailed the kids choir recording, it’s tight and sits well in the mix.

To get a hold of this album check out emumusic.com or iTunes.

FAVOURITE SONGS

All these songs a based on scripture, but rather than a direct quote from scripture (very hard) he has built a song around the concept of each verse and that is a great way to write songs for kids.

The Plans I Have For You (Jeremiah 29) – The melody works really well on this track with lyrics that come pretty closely from the Bible.

Holy Holy Holy – This is a really nice worship song, and the lead vocals work really well

Ask Seek Knock – Rock ‘N Roll pure and simple, but it’s just really well performed and a great arrangement.

Here are some more thoughts on the album biblesociety.org.au/news/music-that-has-kids-jumping-to-gods-word

 

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Musical Mention: We Belong To Jesus – New Life Kids

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

This time we have a look at ‘We Belong To Jesus (Featuring Jared Anderson and Friends)’. Jared is part of the worship team of New Life Church and I guess a primary contributor to the album.  The recording captures songs birthed out of the vibrant children’s ministry of New Life Church.  Featuring Jared Anderson, youth and adult worship leaders, and an energetic group of more than 135 kids led by choir director Amanda Ferrin, the CD has 11 high-energy praise songs of faith and worship for kids of all ages.  A companion We Belong To Jesus resource DVD contains lyrics videos with optional sing-along split and stereo tracks (background vocals and instrumental) for use with kids choirs in churches everywhere.

WE BELONG TO JESUS

NewLifeWorshipKids_We-Belong-To-JesusProduced by Michael Rossback (Gungor, Paul Baloche), We Belong To Jesus includes such worship favourites as “We Belong,” “Strong God,” “Counting On God,” “Light of Salvation,” and more, all led by the talented children’s ministry team from New Life Church.

Tracklisting

1) Counting On God
2) Impossible Possible
3) Dance Dance Shake It Up / It Was For Freedom
4) We Belong
5) According To His Word
6) Victorious God
7) Strong God
8) Light of Salvation
9) Never Be Shaken
10) Magnified
11) Just Give Me Jesus / ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

THOUGHTS

I love seeing the worship pastor and leadership of the greater team get involved in this project. The fact that they wrote most of the songs for this album says a lot about the ministry happening at this church.

I really like the fact that you can buy three versions of the album on iTunes!

  1. Usual CD version
  2. Performance version with Video Lyric Videos
  3. Deluxe Performance Version with Split Tracks and Performance.

I really like this model and is great for Churches all over the place who would rather not wait for a DVD to arrive in the mail! Two thumbs up New Life!

Like the Planetshakers Kids album I recently wrote about, the team from New Life is partnering with Shout Praises Kids from Integrity to release their music potentially giving them a far greater reach!

Anderson, who wrote seven songs featured on We Belong to Jesus.

“My prayer is that our homes become houses of worship and that our families know how to lead one another by engaging in original, wholehearted awe of God. This project is a rehearsal tape for our heaven performance. I hope it serves well.”

New Life Church worship pastor Jon Egan (Desperation Band), who is known for such classic worship anthems as “I Am Free,” also penned four songs featured on We Belong to Jesus. Egan says,

“As a young father, there are moments that sneak up on me and take me to another place. One of those moments is when I randomly find my kids singing God songs. They could be building forts or eating breakfast, and I hear the sound of worship coming from their lips. It is in those times that I remember not only my highest calling, but of God’s greatness.”

REVIEW

Onto the music. Overall they have gone with ‘real/organic’ instruments, as in piano, guitar, drums mixed with some current synth/dance elements. It gives the whole album a atmosphere that fits in very well with their own adult worship albums. They are staying true to themselves and have produced something familiar to the ears of kids when it comes to Church worship music.

BTW the choir is awesome! I know only too well how hard it is to get a great choir without sounding like a Psalty record from the 80’s. They are very exposed in the split track versions (available in the deluxe set) but very few people will use those. Although great to listen to if you need to record a choir full of kids in the future.

It’s hard to get worship songs (slower tempo and vibe) that work really well, this album has a great mix of both! Well done.

Favourite Songs

Counting on God – There’s a reason it starts off the album, the best ‘congregational’ song on the album highly recommended for your kids this weekend.

Impossible Possible – Love the chorus chord changes! 

We Belong – Use this at your summer camp on the third night around a camp fire with that one guy who bought a guitar! Perfect 🙂

According To His Word – Scripture rich and classic mid tempo praise song

Magnified – Worship song of the album…

Thanks New Life Kids, there are songs here definitely coming to Hillsong Kids soon!