For Darlene Zschech, the writer of 100-plus popular anthems such as At the Cross and Shout to the Lord, as long as there is life, there is worship.
“Worship pushes back the noise of life,” she says, explaining why she began to write her latest album extolling God’s greatness in the dark days after her diagnosis with breast cancer in 2014.
“Worship has more to do with what comes from our lives, not just our mouths,” she adds.
“His love is what is missing in the world.” – Darlene Zschech
Zschech, who with husband Mark pastors Hope Unlimited Church on the NSW central coast, has just released her first album since that life-changing diagnosis.
Here I Am Send Me (Hineni) reflects Zschech’s belief that if worship by humans is to fulfil God’s purpose, we must be willing to say “Here I am, send me.”
“The first mention of worship in the Bible is in Genesis 22,” she says of the impetus behind the title track. “God calls Abraham, and Abraham says, ‘Yes Lord,’ which is translated in Hebrew as ‘hineni,’ meaning ‘Whatever it is you’re asking, my answer is yes.’ Even before the ask, before anything, my answer is ‘Yes’.”
Zschech expresses this unequivocal “yes’ most clearly in two tracks – Here I Am Send Me and Go.
“It can’t be any straighter,” she says. “In Ephesians, we get that sense of being commissioned into the world to share his love. I write about tribes, lands and neighbourhoods … When you get in his presence, when you allow him into the tough places, you rise knowing you must go and share it. His love is what is missing in the world.”
“I’m 51, and I never thought I’d be doing this at my age.” – Darlene Zschech
Zschech, 51, says her first project since 2013 began during her first week of treatment for cancer when English musician Martin Smith (formerly of Christian rock band Delirious?) came to call.
“When I was at my sickest, Martin flew over from England to sit with us, sing songs over our church, and walk and talk with me and my husband, all the while speaking courage into us,” Zschech says.
“It’s week one of treatment and you think you’re going to die, and Martin said, ‘Darls, I know you’re going to want to write songs about this season. What do you want to say?’ And I said, ‘I want to say ‘HE IS GREAT!’
“That’s where it started … In the midst of the fire, it doesn’t change who our God is.”
“I trust God with those things over which I have no power.” – Darlene Zschech
“I’m 51, and I never thought I’d be doing this at my age. There’s such a freshness in me. In our culture, youth is almost worshiped. But there’s something to be said when you’ve watched the faithfulness of God again and again and again. There’s something to be said of the trust that grows over time.”
The track list of 11 songs also includes Love and Wonder, written by the Zschech’s teenage daughter, Zoe, and Hope team member, Bonnie Gray. There is also a pared back version of a modern hymn based on When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, by 17th century hymn writer Isaac Watts.
“Cancer is a funny thing,” says Zschech. “The medical world doesn’t like to use the word ‘healed.’ They like to say the word ‘remission’… but I’m believing God’s report over my life. I speak Psalm 91 over myself every day. I take my medicine and I take the word of God and I do my best with what I can do in the natural and trust God with those things over which I have no power.”