Our In-Depth Conversation with Darlene Zschech: "I Love to Lead Songs that Bring Faith"

Darlene Zschech

The name Darlene Zschech is synonymous with worship music.  As the worship pastor of Hillsong Church for many years, she has had given the church songs such as "Shout to the Lord," "Worthy is the Lamb," "Blessed," "At the Cross" and many others.  She has recently released her new compilation album "In Jesus' Name: A Legacy of Worship and Faith," which features the new song "My Highest Hope."

Hallels:  Having been part of the Hillsong Church family while growing up, it's such an honor to be interviewing you.  With the release of Integrity Music's "In Jesus Name" and looking back at the past, did you expect "Shout to the Lord" to be a worship song sung by millions of Christians each Sunday?  

There is no way we could have ever even dreamed of the impact that SHOUT would have around the world. I don't think you can ever know when you are writing a song...  some of the songs I thought would really have impact just didn't and vice versa. But the honour of writing prayers and worship that others choose to make part of their own worship expression is constantly humbling and exciting. 

Hallels:  How and when did you start leading worship?  Can you remember the first time you fronted a worship service in song leading? What was it like? 

I started leading worship after our pastor had asked me to do so many times but I had always said no.  He finally just walked off the platform mid service one day and left me at it! Talk about throwing you in the deep end!  But I am ever grateful. I would never have been able to step into worship leading had I waited till I 'felt ready.' Leading is always by faith, not moved by what I see or what I feel, but what I KNOW to be true. 

Hallels:  With such a lengthy career of leading worship, what are three highlights in your calling as a worship leader that you are the proudest of? 

I don't really think of moments I'm proudest of... but there are moments that have impacted me greatly. Moments when in leading, I see one of my children really lost in worship.  That continues to inspire me greatly. Being in worship environments in any developing nation is always my favourite... when people have NO comforts of this world but have Jesus, you'll hear worship that is unlike anything else. As Mother Teresa said, "you'll never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you've got." And for a third one, I would say that in any environment where the worship experience seems hard. I LOVE leading then. I love leading when you have the privilege of seeing the lights come on for people. Freedom is the result every time. 

Hallels:  Whenever you lead worship, do you include some of your older songs (like "Worthy is the Lamb" or "At the Cross")? Or do you just include new songs?  What's your rationale behind the compilation of your song set for each service?  

I love to lead songs that bring faith, not just sentiment. So I'll choose songs that are familiar, but then lead people into singing words that become like prayers of faith. I love mixing up the ancient with the contemporary, as long as lyrically it is strong and musically inclusive. 

Hallels:   While I was growing up at Hillsong Church, there was a rumor that you recorded an album full of hymns just for the senior members of the church.  Is this true?  Any plans on releasing that album one day?  I'd personally love to hear it.  

Ha, I did! I recorded it for my grandfather who was always complaining about the modern worship we were releasing! :) And then any seniors in the church who wanted one, I just gave it to them. I'll have to find that album... I had totally forgotten about it! Thanks for reminding me.  

Hallels:  Are you planning your next album now?  Will it be a live worship album or a studio recording?  When do you anticipate the release of this new album?  

I am still waiting on God about this. I will continue to write and lead and we'll see what happens. I personally LOVE live albums. So that would be fun! 

Hallels:  How's your health lately?  We at Hallels have been praying for you constantly.  And we know we have thousands of readers out there praying for you daily.   

Thank you for asking. I am doing really well. Slowly regaining strength but very, very grateful to God for these years ahead. I want to truly LIVE every day, and not be too busy for all the precious, seemingly insignificant moments. The word of God has sustained me, and His Church has upheld me in prayer... so much so, that I have felt tidal waves of prayer over my life. I am forever thankful. 



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