Perry LaHaie on How to End Worship Wars, Hymns and His New Album "Him"

Perry LaHaie

Singer/songwriter and morning drive-time radio host Perry LaHaie has rescheduled the release of his long awaited new full-length album, Him. Collectively, the ten-song collection of original songs and reimagined hymns that comprise Him tells the story of God--of His great rescue plan to bring His love to every tribe, tongue, and language on the planet, to rescue all creation from sin and death through the cross, the resurrection, and Christ's second coming. It offers an impassioned appeal to bring this good news to those who have never heard it, including over 1,000 Muslim people groups that are still waiting for the gospel.  

The project was helmed by Grammy-winning engineer and producer Andy Hunt, and features Nashville players Jared Kneale (drums), Matt Melton (bass), Matt Stanfield (keys), Nathan Dugger (guitars), and Buckley Miller (engineer). Joining LaHaie with songwriting and additional background vocals were his adult children, Kali Joy and Taylor.

Q: Thank you Perry for doing this interview with us.  Congratulations for the release of your new album "HIM." Why did you choose to record an album of both hymns and original compositions?

Thanks for the opportunity to share about Him! My hope for Him is that the songs will help us experience even more deeply the amazing-ness of God's grace and that Jesus' love will compel us to take his grace to the nations. 

That's what I try to communicate through the music God has given me. As a singer-songwriter I've written songs with this heartbeat for Jesus' grace and how his grace is for the world.  

So, I chose some great hymns that are thick with the truth of the gospel and added new sections that cause us to not just celebrate grace but realize our commission to take the good news to every people and place on the planet.

It would be sweet if churches started singing some of these reimagined hymns and that the truths would go deep in us and cause us to see that we have been swept up into God's great story to bring his love to the world.

Q: What role do hymns play in your life?  Can you recall an instance in your life when a hymn spoke powerfully to you?  

As someone who has been so achievement and performance driven, striving to try to earn God's favor, hymns that remind me that I don't have to earn it are so massively life-giving!

Like "Rock of Ages." "Not the labor of my hands could fulfill thy laws demands. Could my zeal no respite know; could my tears forever flow.  All for sin could not atone, thou must save and thou alone." 

That speaks so powerfully to my performance driven heart. It tells me there is nothing I need to do to receive God's love. Even if I could cry tears of repentance for one thousand years, it still would not be enough to earn God's love. No, my part is just to open my empty hands and receive the love that is given freely, the love that flows from Jesus' wounded side.

And in my reimagining of Rock of Ages the truth of that love hits me as I cry, "Not just me, bleeding lamb. Let mercy flow throughout every land!"

Q: For those churches who are in the worship war between contemporary worship songs and hymns, what do you have to say to them?

I would say let's lay down our weapons, love each other, taste the gospel once again and give our every breath to take the grace of Jesus to the world. Any time I invest in a worship war is wasted time. It helps me to remember who we are and why we're here.

We are beloved children of God and we have been blessed to be a blessing to the world.

Q: How did you narrow your choice of hymns for this record?

I chose hymns that were life-giving to me in worship, that I saw were life-giving to others. I wondered and prayed and imagined how God might take this hymn and create something new out of the old? How might the resurrection power of Jesus breath new life into something loved, powerful and familiar?

The result is what God helped us create. And now the hope that these hymns might do something new in and through God's people in the world is completely in his hands. 

Q: I believe your children were also part of the writing for this new record.  Tell us about their involvement.

Yes! A great example of how my daughter Kali helped is with "O Mystery of Mysteries." I had written this several years ago and the melody wasn't compelling. She has a great instinct for melodies, and helped create something more singable and beautiful. My son, Taylor, helped with the arrangement on "Mystery." He took a song that was originally amazingly simple and turned it into more of an anthem of the story of God. 

On "God Is Working His Purpose Out," it was almost cut from the record until Taylor heard it. Originally it was up tempo and not very interesting. He heard it and said, "Why not make this more Lord of the Rings-ish?" That's what we tried to do. That was the birth of what you hear on the record.

Q: Of the original songs on this new record, I love "O Mystery of Mysteries," tell us how this song came about?

I love it because it tells the story of God so simply-Jesus leaving his Palace and throne to come into this earth as a baby, "The word became flesh." Bringing the Kingdom to earth through acts of power and compassion. Dying and rising to make a way for us to enter the Kingdom. Then the hope of his return when the Kingdom will be fully seen in the earth, "when all the sad things will come untrue."

I wrote this several years ago and it needed a new melody. My daughter Kali who has such an ear for singable melodies brought that to the song.

Originally, the arrangement was four stanzas that didn't do justice to the amazing story that it tells. That's where my son Taylor made it more anthemic. Creating the build you now hear in the song. For example, singing the melody in a lower octave and then toward the end the higher octave. Also, the musical hook after the fourth verse that we envision everyone singing together. Taylor brought that to the song as well.

Q: Why did you choose "O Come O Come Emmanuel (How Long)" as the album's lead single?

It really was a timing thing. The record wasn't finished but "Emmanuel" was at Christmas 2019. That set it up well for a pre-release.

That said, it's a reimagining that I love. I wanted to make this ancient carol all about the second coming of Jesus, and make it more of a lament in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets, "How long O Lord till you bring justice to the earth?!"

My hope is that the reimagining has created something more than a carol we sing at Christmas, that it creates a longing for the day when the curse of sin will be gone, when there will be no more death or sorrow or pain.

Prayer has so much to do with God completing his plan and my hope is that this reimagining will inspire us to pray for that day to come. When every tribe, tongue, people, and nation is worshipping the Lamb in the new earth (Rev. 7:9). 

Q: In these uncertain times caused by the pandemic, how can this new album help our readers find comfort and hope in God?

It's more important than ever that we know the grand story the bible is telling us. Because it's a true story and it's one of unshakeable hope.

The story of the bible is that God is working everything together for the good. Jesus on the cross proves this is true. It was the greatest injustice ever. The Son of God being put to death.

And yet out of his death comes healing for the world. Jesus' death means that suffering has purpose, that God can take the greatest evil and turn it for good.

I love The Message translation on Romans 8:22. "All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs."

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, famines, plagues, Covid 19. The earth is in labor. If creation is groaning and in labor pain, that means something is going to be born. Isaiah 65 tells us, "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth."

We who have this hope have real hope to share. We know who we are, the beloved children of God. We know why we're here, to bring hope to our neighbors and to the nations that they too can become Abba's children. 

Our hope is that a Savior has come, that he's alive, that he's forgiven us, that he's given us a purpose to bless the world with his love, that he's called us to bring this message of hope to every people and place on the planet. When we finally complete this commission, he will come. 

If death has been defeated, we really do have reason to hope, and a robust hope to share. 


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