In January, John Dickson, co-founder of the Centre for Public Christianity and senior Anglican minister in Sydney, sparked a storm of responses when he posted on Facebook, “Can someone with real Hillsong contacts please urge their brilliant songwriters to put the Apostles’ Creed to inspiring music. They’d be doing mainstream Christianity an enormous favour.” At the same time he directly tweeted the same request to Hillsong.
His appeal reached the ears of Cassandra Langton, Hillsong’s Creative Director, who tweeted her reply to John within 24 hours, “We shall have a go!!!” This began a production process for Hillsong’s new song This I believe, sung at Hillsong campuses at the beginning of March and by over 17,000 women at Hillsong’s Colour Conference.
Here are some of the lyrics sung from the song at the conference (though these are still being finalised at time of writing before ‘official release’):
I believe in God the Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
Ben Fielding, one of Hillsong’s leading songwriters, also heard John’s appeal. A month later, when the team were preparing to write, he suggested looking at the Apostles’ Creed. “We pulled it up and it was such an incredible text. We thought it would be amazing to be able to put music to it and give it new life.” Ben felt that taking Hillsong’s platform and putting the words of the Creed to music to reach contemporary churches was an incredible opportunity.
“In an age where there is so much division it’s powerful to declare something we all believe is true, emphasising our core beliefs,” says Ben. “I love anything that has the power to unify the church. Song does that. And so does this Creed, and it has for close to 1700 years.”
Ben feels his responsibility as a Christian songwriter. “The words we’re writing are becoming the liturgy and creeds of today. As the songs travel, we’re putting words in the mouths of the church.” He reflects on the history of the Creed and also hymns which, for hundreds of years, have brought people back to core Christian beliefs. Songs with biblical lyrics are the best, he observes.
There is an awareness at Hillsong, Ben says, that their church is not isolated, but built off an incredible heritage of churches in Australia and the history of the Christian church. In a similar way, Ben speaks gratefully about the interaction with John Dickson in the production of This I Believe, and would like to see more ecumenical interaction, to enable the church to come together.
“It’s such an enriching experience. It’s sad to think we wouldn’t be able to have that dialogue because of denominational barriers. Perhaps working on things like the Creed would be a great way forward, to open dialogue and engage on that level that we have in common.”
This I Believe will be officially released and available to churches in July at the Hillsong Conference. Hillsong are also planning to release a new song for Easter, Calvary, which will be available for free download for all churches.