|Chris Tomlin Feature
29 August 2006
We tremble under the weight of news reports. We shudder as cultural pillars appear to be crumbling. Yet God’s commitment to all life remains unshakable. Rain washes dry roots. The sick experience healing. This is life’s resurrection by the hand of God: Dawn always breaks into morning over humanity’s dark night of the soul.
Inspired by the psalmist who describes God’s ongoing work as provoking new beginnings, award-winning singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin releases See The Morning. After 15 years of writing songs for the church, Tomlin’s new 11-track album shows joy remains possible even in the messiness of life. Praise to God is not just for life’s prosperous seasons—it’s a constant way of living with hope.
“See The Morning expresses the idea that God’s as faithful as the rising sun,” explains Tomlin. “Though your life may be shifting all around you and it may be dark, there is hope.” Chris cites empowering Biblical stories from Psalms, Exodus, Lamentations, Joshua, Isaiah and some accounts of Jesus’ miracles in the gospels to draw a resolute conclusion. “From these stories I’m inspired to notice morning as an incredible symbol in Scripture. Morning is brand new. It’s fresh. It’s new life. That while the darkness came and was for a while, light is breaking through into morning.”
“That’s the hope I want to help people grab with this album,” Tomlin says.
See The Morning started to emerge following the far-reaching success of Tomlin’s 2004 sixstepsrecords/ Sparrow Records release Arriving. That record delivered a call to the Christian church to pursue life-renewing worship, and it indelibly reinforced Tomlin’s distinction as the voice of today’s modern expression of Christian worship. The songs breathed vitality into both corporate and devotional worship music, creating a ripple effect like nothing Tomlin had previously experienced.
Arriving gave Tomlin his first RIAA-certified gold record and made radio history by producing three No. 1 singles and three songs in the R&R AC Top 30 simultaneously (two of those in the Top 10). Tomlin led all artists this spring with 10 GMA Music Award nominations, capping off the Christian music industry’s April ceremony with five statuettes, including standout awards for Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year. The recording also caused the church to sing, with “How Great Is Our God” and “Holy Is The Lord” landing in the top 15 of the most sung CCLI songs, and bringing his total CCLI charting songs to 17 being sung by tens of millions of worshipers around the world. This season also successfully perpetuated Tomlin’s celebrated participation in the popular, college-focused Passion conferences.
Grateful for these opportunities, the accolades also bring Tomlin the added weight of responsibility and concern for the human condition.
“The more I live, the more I see that life is not fair,” the Austin, Texas-based musician says. “Around the world, I’ve been exposed to much poverty and sickness. I hear about what people are going through, and I realize that some are not as blessed as others. The world is full of discouragement. I think God wants to give us all great compassion for those...so I want to use my voice to write songs that serve as a reminder to people that Jesus’ life provides hope for us all. Not just in the good times, but in the bad times, as well.”
“Hebrews says, ‘Therefore through Jesus let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that praise his name and do not forget to do good and serve others, for which such things God is pleased,’” Tomlin continues. “I hope this music serves others. With worship music there is a revival. The spirit of God grows in people’s hearts. To worship him is not only to sing our hearts out to God but also to love and serve people and to meet people where they are. Hopefully I can give voice to some songs that help people do just that.”
Combining the artist’s strong signature hooks and accessible choruses with the production expertise of the award-winning Ed Cash, who also produced Arriving, See The Morning is imbued with a community spirit, as evidenced by the number of contributing songwriters. Tomin is joined by Cash and Matt Redman in the opening track that anchors the theme of hope, “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a rendition of the 1860 hymn by Robert Lowry:
How can I keep from singing your praise/ How can I ever say enough/ How amazing is your love
How can I keep from shouting your name/ I know I am loved by the King/ And it makes my heart want to sing
Hope also resonates vigorously on “Rejoice” (the track from which the album’s title is drawn), as well as on the beautiful first radio single “Made To Worship.” Producer Cash, who encouraged Tomlin to record what became his first No. 1 radio hit, “Indescribable,” brought Tomlin the chorus that he and Stephen Sharp had written for “Made To Worship.” Tomlin finished writing the song and audiences nationwide are responding, as it has already become a national radio hit.
The album further features the high-energy “Let God Arise” as a rowdy, rambunctious track inspired by Psalm 68:1 and affirming that death does not get the final word over humanity.
“You cannot play something titled ‘Let God Arise’ as a ballad at 75 beats a minute,” Tomlin laughs. “We, as a band [Jesse Reeves (bass), Daniel Carson (guitar) and Travis Nunn (drums)] love to play loud and get people going. This is our rock and roll song.” Often testing new songs like that one on the road and in churches before deciding to record them,
“Everlasting God,” written by Brenton Brown and inspired by Isaiah 40, is already a staple chorus at Austin Stone Community Church, which Tomlin co-founded in 2002.
Closing the album is “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” a new rendition of the classic hymn. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to mess with the most recognized hymn ever,” Tomlin admits. But after researching the song, he discovered the famous John Newton hymn has withstood previous editors. Reviving an original verse that had lost popular favor over the years, combined with a new chorus co-written with Passion founder/director Louie Giglio, Tomlin rekindles a church standard for a new generation of worshipers.
“My chains are gone/ I’ve been set free/My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns/ Unending love, Amazing grace!”
As millions of people around the world are already singing his songs every week at collegiate gatherings, worship services, concert settings and as they sing along with radio, perhaps like the famous hymn from Newton, the songs of Chris Tomlin will live on in the hearts and through the voices of worshipers for generations.
“I want to write songs that last more than a few weeks on the radio,” Tomlin reflects. “I feel like God’s given me a gift to write songs for the average person that help them communicate their feelings to God. And For See The Morning, and really all my songs, I hope they will be ones that bring people closer to God, so much so that they are sung long after I’m gone.”
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