Canyon Hills Worship On Writing Songs for the Church with their New Record
Canyon Hills Worship will be releasing their debut DREAM Worship album As Long As I Live Vol. 1 on February 18th. Canyon Hills Worship exists to glorify God and encourage his church. The group is made up of worship leaders and songwriters from Canyon Hills Community Church in Seattle Washington. Their heart is to write music that inspires worshippers in the local church and stirs people's attention and affection towards Jesus.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start off with yourselves: who is Canyon Hills Worship?
Koby: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Who are we? Canyon Hills Worship is group of worship leaders and songwriters from Canyon Hills Community Church in the Seattle area...Bothell to be exact...which hardly anyone outside Seattle has heard of.
Q: Who makes up your worship team?
Michael: Our worship team is made up of some of the best people I know. Seriously. We are blessed with the best, most dedicated volunteers out there. I've been at Canyon Hills since I was a kid and growing up in the church I have seen some of these people faithfully leading for literally decades. We have people from 17 to... well older. Haha. The band on this record is half staff and half volunteers. I hope that answers your question!
Q: Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your album "As Long As I Live." What's your goal behind this record? How do you wish this album would help your listeners?
Koby: Thanks! We couldn't be more excited to team up with Dream Records for this release and it is a bit surreal to think that it is finally releasing. We've been working on this record for over a year now, and it's weird to think that its actually finished. Our goal for this project has been the same as our goal has been for every project. We, as the church, want to write music for the church, with the church. We want to write meaningful songs that will remind people of what is true. James 3 teaches, and our conviction has been, that we will be held accountable by God for every word we teach (or sing) and for that reason, we've worked really hard to craft songs that we feel are Biblically sound and will minister to people. Our hope is that these songs will inspire people, in their churches, cars...or just singing in the shower...to remember truth that will offer them hope in real life and in real time.
Q: This album was recorded live. Tell us about some of the highlights of the recording night(s)?
Michael: We had been praying for and looking forward to this night for 2 years and it turned out perfect! It is always so cool and humbling to hear songs that you wrote sung by thousands of people, and even cooler when those songs are for the sole purpose of praising the Lord and blessing the church. I remember right off the bat it was hard to hear what I was playing and singing just from how loud everyone in that room was singing. It was truly so special.
Q: When you were choosing songs for this record, what were the types of songs you were looking for?
Koby: Well, like I said before, we are worship leaders. And as worship leaders we get to plan worship every weekend in our church...and in our church, that's in three different services, adult, middle school, and high school! There's a lot of worship to plan! So we started looking at the landscape of what songs were available, and we started writing for what we thought was missing, or at least what our church needed. Not that we are the only people to have written songs about these subjects, but we looked to write songs that would connect with people as we tried to move them from their minivans in the parking lot into the throne room of God. Really, we wanted to write songs that any church could use to direct the attention and affection of their people towards the Lord. So in that, we had to write songs of celebration, songs of testimony, and songs that call our eyes straight to the person and character of God. It's a wide spread, but we are really happy with where these songs landed.
Q: I must say I love "Standing on the Promises." Here you have taken an old hymn and rewritten into a new song. What inspired you to use the words of this old hymn?
Koby: I have no idea! It's funny. You ask the question, and I don't even remember who brought those lyrics in. That song was written in about 30 minutes in my boss Dave's living room. Dave, Michael, Ellisha and I had been writing all day and got nothing. We were about to pack it up for the day, and someone suggested we take a crack at re-writing around this hymn. We had 30 minutes left in the day, and so we just started playing. I think the melody of that verse was the first thing that came out of my mouth, and once I got through that, Michael just started singing that chorus and the bridge came a few minutes later. It all came together so quickly that it kinda stunned us!
I don't remember who brought those lyrics in, but I know we were all looking forward to the chance to write with them. There is something so powerful and rich in the old hymns, and I think we collectively felt, with these lyrics, that our church needed to be reminded that our God is a God who makes promises, and he is a God who keeps promises. He is faithful to fulfill his word every time. That's been a bit of a theme recently in worship for us. There is something about stopping and meditating on the faithfulness of God that is encouraging. Whether we are walking by still waters, or through the valley of the shadow of death, being reminded of God's promises and faithfulness is a huge source of hope. I think that's why we love this song so much.
Q: Another song that I adore is "It is Well (My Soul sings)." Is there a story behind how this song came about?
Michael: This song means more to me than any song we've ever written. Oddly enough, this song started from a place of serious frustration. Over the past ten years or so I have seen so much of my family die. I remember asking God: "why do you keep taking them?" "why does my family have to keep dealing with this."
Then I found out that my uncle Jimmy was diagnosed with cancer and it didn't look good... I was so mad. I was so frustrated. So discouraged. Even writing this right now I am wiping tears away from my eyes. I just couldn't understand why we needed to go through it again. I was praying every single day for Jimmy's healing. I don't know if it was that week or the next, but I remember we sung the original hymn "It is Well with My Soul" in church and that phrase kept bouncing around in my head. That night I went home and started writing. My prayers for Jimmy started to change and we started praying for his salvation first. Jimmy eventually lost his battle with cancer, but not long before that he accepted Christ into his heart. I brought the song to Koby and we finished it soon after. Though you give and take away, your heart for me is good. You are ALWAYS good. I really hope that the words of this song can help others through loss and be a reminder that our God is always good. On the mountains and in the valley, It Is Well.
Q: How has(have) the song(s) have you personally in your own walk with Jesus?
Michael: For me it's simple... I think anyone that leads worship needs to honestly evaluate whether or not they believe what they are singing. These songs have been a constant reminder of what I believe.
Koby: I have found that songs have a distilling effect on me. When we write, we are forced to evaluate every word that we put on paper. We are over analyzing every nuance of what is being sung. And so writing a song, for me, forces me to really dig into what I believe to be true. I think there are a lot of things that we as Christians say we believe, and we may truly believe! But we don't always know why. For me, writing these songs has made me wrestle with the "why." I remember when we wrote the opening line of It Is Well (My Soul Sings) "Though you give and take away, your heart for me is good. You are ALWAYS good." That might be my favorite lyric we've ever written. I remember staring at the screen across from Michael in our little studio space and thinking "Do I really believe this is true? Am I about to ask 4000 people, from all walks of life, hurt, and experience, to sing this?" It's sobering. Obviously, it's true, but writing these songs have forced that truth to move from a simple agreement, to a heartfelt conviction. I hope that answers the question.
Thanks for chatting with us!
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