For those of you following the progress of making my next album, I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday in the studio. We recorded at the Poole Room in Franklin Tennessee. It’s a really incredible environment for making music. These players and engineers are literally some of the best in the world. They cut 8 songs in 6 hours…and even the unmixed cuts sound amazing. I came prepared for two full days in the studio but it only took one. These guys are the unsung heroes of the music business and are certainly my heroes. They are the guys you hear on the radio but you never hear their names. My deepest gratitude to each of them, Lifeway Worship, and Producer Craig Adams for making this happen. We are planning to record my vocals and additional guitar parts in early 2015.
This week on Voices In My Head Rick talks about the Christian Calendar and why Advent is the best time for Christians to say Happy New Year. This Podcast also features Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting, Longing). Free Sheet music for this song available below and at www.RickLeeJames.com/FreeSheetMusic and you can watch the YouTube video below.
I have some incredible news to share with you about the record I’ll be recording this December in Nashville. I’ve only shared this news with investors and some family up to this point, but am now ready to share it with the rest of you.
A few weeks ago, I initiated a partnership with LifeWay Worship that will get me a long way down the road toward the accomplishment of a new album. Because of LifeWay Worship’s involvement, I will be able to record this album at one of the best studios in Nashville with A-list players and engineers. The investment of LifeWay Worship, alongside funds donated via GoFundMe.com and my own personal investment, is making the dream become reality!
Here’s What This Means:
- Funding to record and mix the album has been secured in full.
- All songs recorded will be featured on my solo album and will be be repurposed by LifeWay Worship to introduce songs and arrangements at lifewayworship.com (charts, tracks, lyric files will be offered there).
- All songs included on the project will be pitched to a variety of publishers, labels, and artists for placement in choral print and/or on any number of 3rd party album releases.
All this is to say, through God’s provision and generosity expressed through LifeWay Worship and an amazing team of partners at www.gofundme.com/hymns, we’re going to make an amazing record which has the potential be used as a music resource for churches internationally. I can hardly believe that God has blessed me with this opportunity 7 years after I accepted His invitation to make music for the church on a broader scale. 7 is the number in scripture that represents God so I see this as a tangible sign of His guiding hand.
These songs were birthed out of my local congregation’s times of worship at First Church of the Nazarene in Springfield Ohio. I am so blessed that we will be able to share our musical expressions of worship on a larger scale using ancient and modern hymns. I can’t thank my producer, Craig Adams, enough for investing so much of himself into this project. He and I share a common calling to equip churches for worship. Authentic worship is what we pray will be experienced by congregations worldwide as they sing these songs.
Additional funding is still needed in order to accomplish album design, photography, printing costs, manufacturing, and miscellaneous expenses. Any additional funds collected at GoFundMe.com/hymns will help us achieve completion of the entire project. Thank you to all of you who have already given to this project and to those of you who still plan on partnering with us. I give all praise to our Glorious God and I pray He will use these songs of worship to glorify Himself and to further His Kingdom here on earth. Bless the Lord at all times!
In His Glad Service,
Rick Lee James
WHAT IS A HYMN? DO YOU KNOW?
What is a hymn? If you ask that to a room full of Christians, no matter what age, you will get a room full of various answers. I’m not sure that most people really know. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what a hymn is, but I’m just not convinced that most people could give a satisfying definition if asked. St. Augustine defines a hymn as “praise to God with song” and most of us would probably agree with his definition, but doesn’t it seem like there is a little bit more to it than that? If a hymn is simply a song of praise to God then isn’t every song that praises God a hymn?
Earlier this year I published a book on the Psalms called Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms. I feel like the Psalms are relevant to any conversation about what a hymn is because the book of Psalms is one of the oldest songbooks that we have. In fact, similar to Augustine’s definition of a hymn, the Hebrew title for the Psalms is the word ‘tehillim’, which means, ‘Songs of Praise’. Form Criticism pioneers like Hermann Gunkel have helped us to see that the Psalms are much more related to the corporate worship of Israel and Judah than to the individual meditations of a pious person. Form criticism has also shown us that the best way to understand how a psalm was used in corporate worship is by identifying its literary form.
There are certain Psalms that are categorized as hymns and lucky for us they are the simplest form of Psalm to identify. The hymns in the book of Psalms all follow the same general structure:
- An initial call to praise God
- Reasons for giving praise to God
- A renewed call to praise (conclusion)
While the hymns in our pew racks may not precisely follow that threefold pattern to a tee, we can observe two indisputable facts about hymns from the book of Psalms. Hymns are intended to be sung by the community of believers, and hymns give praise to God. Hymns aren’t truly hymns unless they are sung by the people, for the praise of God. Hymns take the focus away from us and they help the body of believers to understand that they are not the focus of God’s story, rather God is the focus of His story, and He is calling his people to journey with Him, with praise as their banner.
With this in mind, I have started a new endeavor which has to do with hymn, a hymn project if you will. I am a musician, songwriter, independent recording artist, and worship leader by trade and calling. Over the last 15 years I feel like God has been expanding my understanding of worship and I have seen that hymns are essential to the life of authentic worship in the community of believers.
Because of this, I am making hymns the focus of my next album. Every song on this album will conform to the above definition of a hymn. Each song will be focused on the praise of God, and each song is intended to be sung by the people of God together in worship. Each song is written, co-written, or re-written by me and other songwriters (Eddie Kirkland, Andrew Greer, Ted Rastatter, etc.) who are passionate about helping the church recapture its hymnody. Because of the communal focus of this project, I’m also hoping to create a companion documentary film and songbook to be used by local churches across the globe. God has already opened many doors for me to get this project in motion, not the least of which is sending five time Dove Award winning producer Craig Adams my way with an offering to produce this record. However, we still believe that there are more doors to be opened.
This is, without a doubt, the biggest endeavor I have ever taken upon myself. Appropriately enough, like a hymn, it cannot be accomplished by me alone. I simply lack the resources on my own and I need the help of the community. Thankfully God has provided a community called the church. If you are reading this article and are feeling led to help, we are simply asking for $5.00 donations. If God’s people can help us spread the word through social media about the this hymn project, we believe that we can get 6000 people to donate $5.00 each. If this happens then we can create what we believe will be an great resource to help churches sing together and focus on God, through hymns both ancient and modern. We are calling it the $5.00 Hymn Challenge, and we hope that you will accept.
We are also offering some great rewards for donors who go over and above this $5.00 challenge. To find out more simply visit www.GoFundMe.com/Hymns. You can also find many video links to share on social media at www.RickLeeJames.com/Hymns. Thank you for praying about this endeavor and for partnering with us on this hymn project. Together, with God’s help, I believe we can do this.
This post originally appeared as a guest post on Worship Links Blog
p style=”text-align:center;”>Rick Lee James Hymn Playlist