Christ is the centre.
This is the overwhelming theme of the new album from Hillsong, Cornerstone. From the title track to the closing song, every listening moment points back to the glorious Lord Jesus; what he has done for us, our response of praise to him, and his eternal glory.
The certainty of our hope in Christ is also central in the album. “No matter what the situation we face, Christ is our hope,” says Reuben Morgan, worship pastor and leader of the creative team at Hillsong Church. “We can have confidence in Christ; we have a hope that doesn’t fail.”
Last year, Morgan visited Scandinavia, and led worship at Hillsong in Stockholm following the shooting massacre in nearby Norway. The community was shaken by the deaths of 77 people, and Morgan and his friends gathered with guitars in hand to seek out music and words to comfort and reassure them amidst uncertainty and grief.
The song Cornerstone was the result, as they constructed a new melody around the strong old words, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness.” This certainty, from the hymn written by Edward Mote, spoke to their hearts as they restructured the melody for the verses and wrote a chorus.
“We were thinking about the fact that in a trial, you want people to anchor on what’s real. Christ is the foundation, and to be able to sing that is amazing.” The song gave encouragement to those gathered to worship God in the midst of their trouble, Morgan recalls, “The response was great; probably more so than I expected.”
The song features a new chorus, “Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong, in the Saviour’s love, through the storm, he is Lord, Lord of all”. Based on Ephesians 2:19-22, the lyrics are symbolic of the entire album’s focus on the work of Christ as the solid rock on which his people stand, and the basis of a certain hope during uncertain times.
Morgan observes, “We are living in uncertain times and people are wondering what will happen with their finances and more. But no matter what happens, we don’t build our lives on the stock market or on big businesses or companies that are ‘too big to fail’. We actually build our lives on Christ, and he’s the foundation. You can know that, sing it, and confess it.”
Hillsong continues its focus on equipping the local church with this new album – the Cornerstone album can be purchased in a church resource kit which includes a special edition DVD/CD of the album, a recording of the instrument parts for each song, a CD-Rom of the Music Book, and a Trax MP3 Library.
In a new move this year, Hillsong is partnering with Bible Society Australia to provide the a pack containing the deluxe CD/DVD and a Bible. The pack will be made available at Hillsong conference for those keen to have a copy of the album.
“This move is an obvious one to me,” says Morgan. “The Bible is our true Cornerstone, as it tells us about Jesus. We want people to connect with God, and the way they do that is through his Word.”
Morgan continues, “I think that a Christian song is strong because it’s biblical. I believe that as a songwriter and a worship leader the foundation of our songs needs to be the Bible.”
Morgan admits that on his own, he has no idea how to help people connect with God. “But God does,” he says. “And that’s why as a song writer and a worship leader, my pen needs to be on the Bible. The answers that I need, and that our church needs, are there. I feel that as a minister of the gospel the best thing I can do is get the truth of the Bible into songs.”
The album’s opening track, Endless Light, lifts up the listener, with driving, bright percussion reminiscent of the popular Christmas carol released by Hillsong for 2011, Born is the King. The lyrics proclaim, “Great is the love of the Saviour”, to all mankind, pointing to the work of Jesus in laying down his life for us. He is the “Lord of endless light” whose glory will shine forever.
The second track, Beneath the Waters, speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection, returning to central and basic principles of the Christian faith in its opening lines: “This is my revelation, Christ Jesus crucified. Salvation through repentance, on the cross on which he died. Now here my absolution, forgiveness for my sin, and I sink beneath the waters, that Christ was buried in.” The song highlights the powerful symbol of baptism, proclaiming in the chorus, “I will rise, I will rise as Christ was raised to life. Now in him, now in him, I live.”
The album contains a mixture of high energy songs and those that are slower, more meditative and always including the Hillsong staple: repeated refrains and ample space to reflect on the glory of God.
Throughout the album there is strong proclamation of Jesus’ saving work. Response songs are mixed with declaration, and the entire album brings home to the listener the central importance of having Christ as our Cornerstone, and encouraging each other with the truths of what he has done to bring us to God.
When asked about his hopes for this album, Morgan says, “Whether there are people who have never heard of Christ and don’t know anything about him and are given the album, or if there are people who have been a Christians for years and years and listen to these songs – my prayer is always that people would draw near to Christ through it.”
Cornerstone will be available on July 3, 2012 on iTunes and all good music stores.