A new band launched by Seattle's Mars Hill Church released a worship album featuring two hymns and two new worship ballads set to music inspired by modern alternative rock bands, including "The Killers."
"I'd say the sound of the album was inspired by bands like The Killers, Jimmy Eat World, and The Gaslight Anthem," Nick Lathe, lead singer for "The Dispatch" and worship director at Mars Hill's location in Sammamish, Wash, told The Christian Post in a Wednesday interview. Despite this new style, the band aims "to write songs that our church will respond to – that are heavily rooted in scripture and theologically sound."
Lathe said that the album, released Tuesday, focuses on the all-sufficient work of Jesus on the Cross. "We don't bring anything to the table in terms of salvation, but it's through Jesus' grace alone," he said.
Two songs, "The Solid Rock" and "How Deep the Father's Love For Us," follow more traditional hymns. The first sets the 1837 hymn "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less" to alternative rock, giving a modern feel to the old refrain, which itself echoes Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7 and Luke 6. "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" updates modern worship artist Stuart Townend's famous first hymn-like song.
"The Dispatch" wrote the lyrics for the other two songs, and the lead singer said that the over-arching director of music ministry at the Mars Hill Churches, Jon Dunn, suggested the album upon hearing about Lathe's songwriting.
The song "The Word" tells a brief story of Jesus, starting with creation and proceeding quickly to the Gospel.
"Light came in the world where once the darkness reigned/light that shines for all, in whom all things were made/We are given life through Jesus' righteous name," runs the first verse. With a lighter feel, the song's Christocentric lyrics may form a creed for a new generation. "Jesus/all things were made in Jesus/the light of man is Jesus/our life is found in him."
With a more grungy feel, "By His Grace" starts with the dark side of the Gospel: "We were dead/in our path/we were sinful sons of wrath. Following a crooked road/we were lost and wand'ring souls/we couldn't choose righteousness/we couldn't save ourselves from death." With a drop-kick, the song runs into the chorus: "By his grace/by his grace/we are saved. Not by works/or by words/but by faith in Jesus' name."
The two songs heavily emphasize both the saving work of Jesus and the transformative message of the Gospel, with the alterative feel behind the success of bands like "The Killers."
Lathe told CP he chose to focus on man's inability to save himself and on Christ's free gift of grace because of his own struggle to find his calling. "I burned myself out at a church and was trying to work under my own strength," he testified. Thinking his calling must lie elsewhere, he dedicated his time to something else, but kept singing and playing guitar in church, as he had done since he was 11.
When the opportunity with Mars Hill came two years ago, the worship director said he "felt God opening a door for me to come back into vocational ministry." While the band doesn't plan on a follow-up album or a tour in the future, Lathe said he is open to God's plans.