Popular worship artist Brooke Ligertwood says her latest single, “A Thousand Hallelujahs,” was inspired by the Christians of old who worshiped in simplicity and truth and that she's passionate about writing Scripturally sound songs that are helpful for the local church body.
“A Thousand Hallelujahs” is the first single from Ligertwood’s forthcoming album, Seven, releasing next Friday, Feb. 25.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the Grammy Award winner revealed that the song is one of the last she penned for the album, along with her husband, Scott, and fellow worship artist Phil Wickham.
“It was just such a beautiful surprise and such a blessing,” she said.
“My husband and I went down to our friend, Phil Wickham, who lives just about an hour down the road from us. And we were writing in the church that Phil goes to, which is like this old little church hall in Southern California.”
“We were sitting in the church hall with the keyboards and the guitars, and there’s just this beautiful, empty hall, and kind of started talking about all the generations of people who had worshiped in this church. We were just were so inspired by the generational nature of the Church of Jesus. And we started talking about the thousands of hallelujahs that had been sung in that room.”
From there, “A Thousand Hallelujahs” “just kind of poured forth,” Ligertwood shared.
“All of us, at the end of it, were kind of like, ‘Did that just happen? Thank You, Lord.’ I feel so, so blessed that the song has been entrusted to us, and we just really pray that it’s a blessing for the Church and that it actually is really helpful.”
Ligertwood, a mother of two, is no stranger to writing and releasing music, with two decades of experience in the industry. The New Zealand native has six mainstream albums with Sony Music under her maiden name, Brooke Fraser, along with 17 years with Hillsong Worship under her belt.
Seven, the 38-year-old producer revealed, is “probably the first and last album” under her married name. The album was recorded live in Nashville, Tennessee, and features a 30-piece choir. In addition to Ligertwood’s husband and Wickham, collaborators on the album include Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick, Brandon Lake and others.
The project, Ligertwood said, was not her idea. But she acknowledged, “my life is not my own.” She called Seven a “step of obedience,” one she felt God calling her to do.
“The Lord made it really clear, to my surprise, relatively recently, that this was something that was going to happen,” she shared, later adding: “I was like, ‘Alright, Lord. I’m going to be as faithful with this as I can. We’ve worked so hard and prayed and saturated this thing so much, but this is yours. You get to do what You want.’”
From the start of her career, the Hillsong Worship leader said she’s sought to make simple, Scripture-laden music that is “helpful” for the local church — a passion that was only magnified in the wake of COVID-19.
“At the moment, our campus of Hillsong, that my family and I attend, we don’t have a building right now. We’re meeting in a tent,” she reflected. “We don’t have a fancy PA. We don’t have a big LED screen, reading lyrics that are on TVs on steroids. It’s a really modest time. So, I think I’m really conscious at the moment of what are the songs that work in that context. Because they’re not the songs that have 5 million parts and are very complex and require four-part harmonies. They’re the songs that are vertical that point people to Jesus straightaway, and that can sound great with just a piano and guitar if that’s all you’ve got."
“As a local church member, those are the songs that we’re finding are building our faith in the congregations, week by week,” the “What a Beautiful Name” singer added.
“I have a front-row seat to … what’s helpful, what blesses me as a congregant, but also what blesses me as a person who is then leading the congregation in these settings which have been so moveable for so many churches throughout the pandemic.”
Ligertwood is one of the most recognizable voices in CCM, with hits including “Lead Me to The Cross,” “Hosanna” and “Desert Song.” Her songs have been streamed globally more than 1.5 billion times and translated into over 15 languages.
Though her name is synonymous with modern worship music, the artist said she draws inspiration from the hymns of old and their longevity.
“Hymns are so powerful and have endured for so long, obviously, because the theology and poetry are compellingly put forth, but also because, back in the days where the hymns were circulating, it wasn’t recordings that people were listening to learn the songs; people were getting, literally just the melody written down, the sheet music and the words. Songs had to be robust enough and strong enough to stand on their own with just the melody and the words … these songs had to work,” she reflected.
While it’s a blessing to access worship music through modern streaming services and technology, Ligertwood stressed that “it’s good to remember why these hymns have endured for centuries, as many of them have and, and continue to bring to the Church songs that can endure and still speak in that way.”
The artist is also passionate about infusing her songs with Scripturally-sound theology.
She told CP that while “we can and should use poetry and language and metaphor and colloquialism points to be able to paint the picture of the lyric that we are communicating,” “if it can’t be biblically defended, we can’t sing it.”
“The reason theology in song is so important for the Church is because … a lot of people have long commutes, or they listen to worship as they’re commuting or in the car, and sometimes they’re listening to worship music, in terms of a daily basis, more than perhaps they’re spending time reading the Word,” she said.
“It’s so important that the songs that people are listening to, and then, of course, singing out … that it’s true because what we believe about God frames how we live for God, how we interact with God, how we interact with others, how we see the world. So what we believe is really important, and of course, what we sing shapes what we believe.”
When asked about her vision for the future of worship music, Ligertwood hopes for “purity”
and for generations to come through who “recognize worship is a sacred thing.”
“To be honest, I think especially, there’s a lot of noise, and there’s a lot of distraction,” she shared. “I do feel concerned for the generations that are coming through, what they’re seeing, what their understanding of worship is, what their understanding of being a disciple is.”
When purity and integrity are compromised in ministry, Ligertwood pointed out, “God has to do something about it.”
“If f we’re not the first to repent, then eventually, the Lord’s going to have to bring some correction or allow some things to happen to correct our pride or our stubbornness or all of these things,” she said.
Though worship is a “beautiful rainbow of expression” encompassing high praise, lament and rejoicing, humanity “can never be the focus,” she emphasized.
“We, from our place of humanness and understanding of our sin and the grace that we require and the grace that has been given to us through that lens of humanity, we bring to worship, and we don’t deny that, but at the same time, that can’t be the focus of the worship. Christ is always the focus of our worship,” Ligertwood reminded.
The artist described herself as someone who “loves the Church” and wants to see it flourish — and through her music, hopes to help the Body of Christ do just that.
“I think that’s so important that we have these songs that prepare our hearts to receive the Word … that the time of singing is actually a beautiful part of something greater that God is doing through the service, which is part of something that He’s doing in a community of people, which is part of what He’s doing in His Church,” she said. “I just love the way that God uses all of those parts of the service and all of our gifts combined to mature us as a body of Christ.”
Watch “A Thousand Hallelujahs” below.
Leah M. Klett is an editor and reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org