Hillsong Worship's leader and songwriter Reuben Morgan has written some of the collective's biggest songs including "Cornerstone," "Who You Say I Am," "Mighty to Dave," and the Australian-based team's latest single "Hope of the Ages." Morgan started writing and leading worship since the mid-90s at Hillsong Church. His first composition for Hillsong Worship was the song "I Give You My Heart", which was featured on the album God is in the House.
Morgan reveals his philosophy and theology behind songwriting, "I've been asked before, if people who write worship songs get them in a dream or if they hear angels singing songs and then write them down. I believe God prizes humanity so much, He is calling for humans to bring their own song of worship; the song of the redeemed. Our worship articulates the song of creation.
As humanity, we represent creation to God and God to creation. Our worship is both deeply personal and all-embracing. The song of the church is called to be breathtaking, immense, unspeakably great. How can it be anything less? That's what we go for, believe for. The dream I have for the church around the world, is that somehow, our song would be what we imagine it could be in our wildest aspirations. Something that reflects the worth of the God whom we worship."
Writing seems to me like doing everything you can to capture that image, sound or vision of what you're believing for. It's like a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat. It's like knowing you need to say something, but not being sure until you dive in... and then, you're never really sure... just hopeful."
Morgan continues to discuss how song ideas come to him. "The process of writing always seems to be different. I find myself spending a good amount of time auditioning ideas, themes, melodies, chord progressions and lyrics. Once something feels right, there's an element of getting out of the way and allowing the song to lead the process, following the natural direction it seems to want to take."
The Hillsong writer gets specific as to how their latest single came about. "For the song "Hope Of The Ages," Cody and I had decided on a theme before we played or sung a note. Cody suggested we write something about the unshakable nature of the gospel. Jesus died, Jesus is risen, Jesus is coming back again. In a world weighed down by billions of opinions there is a truth that never fades and that stands unshakable.
In these times, we need to remind ourselves of what we hold to be most true. Once we had the theme, every other element of the song just needed to communicate that message in the best possible way. We sent voice note ideas back and forth via text, mostly around the chorus, for a few weeks before we finally landed on something we were both happy with. Cody has an incredible sense of what is going to resonate with churches. Armed with pages of lyric ideas and notes, we jumped on a video call one afternoon and pieced it all together... there was an ease about the process from that point; verses, chorus and bridge flowed really naturally."
Morgan has someparting words of wisdom for all songwriters. "I believe, as songwriters who write songs for the church, more than ever before, we need that touch of God that brings wisdom; wisdom for worship, wisdom for music. I believe with everything, for the song of the church to be fresh and inspired, liberating and life-filled. Songs that draw us into the infinite grandeur of God. I'm believing that the song of the church will be loud in the earth; that it would be breathtaking."