Grace Chapel Worship is the collaborative effort of the entire worship community here at Grace Chapel in Franklin Tennessee. They have just released their Christmas EP Ever With Us. We are honored to catch up with its worship pastor Jonathan Allen for this exclusive interview.
Hallels: Of all the numerous worship teams out there, what makes your music different?
I think we, like so many other communities, are trying to express in song what God is doing in our world. There are several things about our community that I find unique, also. We have everyone from recent high school graduates to familiar Christian music veterans working together, and equally eager, to make Jesus famous. We believe so strongly that, with the giftings and the songs that God blesses us with, we must never touch the glory. ALL of it is His and His alone.
Hallels: Why did you decide to cut a Christmas EP?
Our Church gathers every year on Christmas Eve to slow down and celebrate the truth that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. We wanted to capture the spirit of those nights and share the songs that we love to sing together. It was also a chance to do something different musically, using instrumentation that's a little different like banjo and dobro.
Hallels: Let's talk about the new single "Ever with Us." What's the song about? And how did you get to co-write with Mia Fieldes who has written for almost everyone in Christian music including Hillsong and Michael W. Smith?
"Ever With Us" is a worship song centered around a couple of Scriptures. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and Isaiah 9:6 tells us that He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I love celebrating the fact that the One who wonderful, mighty, and everlasting is the very One who dwells with us. Writing with Mia is always a joy. I met Mia through one of the Pastors that I get to serve with on staff here at Grace Chapel, Pastor Rick Cua. Some may remember him from his years as a Christian artist. Mia, Rick and I have written several songs together now that we sing together as a church.
Hallels: Tell us more about the other original, "Peace Be Still."
“Peace Be Still” was written by two members of our church, Kara Tualatai and Jan Williamson. It is a song that focuses on the peace that Jesus brings even in the middle of terrible storms. It captures the quiet spirit of the season and the power of the incarnation in a beautiful musical moment. Hallels: Of all the Christmas hymns, how do you narrow down your choices? It was definitely a challenge. We started with a pretty long list. We narrowed it down to some of the songs and arrangements that have been particularly powerful or moving during our times together each year.
Hallels: What's next for you? Are you already planning on your next worship album?
We have been, and are currently, writing songs for our new live worship album that's coming out summer of 2016. It has been such a joy to collaborate with great writers in our community. It’s never something where I sit down and say, "let’s write enough songs to make a new project." We wait until God starts putting songs in our hearts and they “brew” for a while. That being said, it definitely feels like God is saying that it’s time. I can't wait to share these songs!
Hallels: Speaking of Christmas, what does Christmas mean to you?
I feel like a little bit of a broken record but Christmas is about Jesus leaving Heaven and coming to Earth. It shows me that there is no darkness that scares Him. There is no one too broken for Him to redeem. There is literally nothing He won't do to seek and save the lost and to bring God's children home. I love the story of the incarnation. Thanks and Merry Christmas!