Phil Wickham returns with a new album The Ascension, focused on the forward movement we are all called to make in our personal walk of faith. Wickham's compelling vocals and spiritual sensibilities have a way of taking deeper concepts and making them instantly accessible.
Producer Pete Kipley returns, too, building on his long history of collaborating with Phil. Together they have created an album that features Wickham's soaring vocal range, skilled guitar licks, and unexpected yet sing-able melodies. Wickham creates beautiful word pictures, in this case drawing on the image of each of us ascending the mountain of God. Of course, it's not an easy climb. There are obstacles along the way and worldly distractions abound, clamoring for our attention. But if we persevere, we can find the life we were meant to have, a life in His presence that inspires a longing for Heaven.
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Another Realm of Holiness| Posted November 18, 2013
Phil Wickham has breathed several new worship anthems into the Church, like "Always Forever," "You're Beautiful," "Cannons," "Because of Your Love" and "At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)." We sing all of those songs at my church on a regular basis, and I was excited to hear Phil's latest offering, The Ascension.
The lead single from the album is "This Is Amazing Grace," which is another song for the Church. The song references that we are God's sons and daughters. That is one of the truths we can cling to as believers. That's an example of God's amazing grace. In our fallen and sinful tendencies, He still thinks of us as His children, His sons and His daughters if we've accepted Jesus as our substitute and Savior. God views us "white as snow" through the blood of His son instead of in our dirty states. That alone is cause for celebration. The bridge is a glimpse of Heaven and what followers of Jesus will be singing for eternity. If you have put all of your hope and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, one day you'll be singing with a loud, celebratory voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, Worthy is the King who conquered the grave!" Amen to that!
I've been listening to the song leading up to hearing the whole album The Ascension, and I love where the song is placed in the order of songs on the album. I feel like the preceding songs, "The Ascension," "Holy Light" and "Carry My Soul" build up to this celebratory moment on the album. The song "This Is Amazing Grace" kind of reaches a crescendo, and anchors down one of the adoration and celebration moments in the context of the other songs.
The album is based on the Psalms of Ascent. As I discussed with Wickham, "Many believe is that these Psalms were saved for the moment when the people of Israel were gathered together at the temple in Jerusalem to honor God, for Who He is, and for what He's promised to do. I imagine in my mind families, and towns and communities coming together and singing these songs that are sacred. I love that picture of the people of God being excited to be in His presence. Now we don't need to go to a temple, He is in us. The Church is His body, and every time we gather together and sing to Him we are ascending together."
The second half of the album leans into those Truths, with more of Wickham's signature vocal runs, as found in "When My Heart is Torn Asunder," "Mercy," and the gorgeous and worshipful closer, "Thirst." What stands out for me with this album is that with a similar message and musical vibe as found in "Because of Your Love" on Heaven & Earth, many of the songs feature synth-heavy beats combined with extremely catchy and very sing-able lyrics.
My favorite example is the hymn-like "Torn Asunder," where Phil belts out with passion: "There is Hope beyond the suffering, Joy beyond the tears, Peace in every tragedy, Love that conquers fear, I have found redemption in the blood of Christ, My body might be dying, but I'll always be alive!" Amen to that!
I've long been a fan of Brit-rock bands like U2, Keane, Snow Patrol and others who make emotional alternative rock music, but don't always have edifying messages. The first time I heard Phil Wickham's song "Grace" from his self-titled major label debut, I was hooked by his enthusiastic and reverent songs, layered with a Brit-rock musical vibe. I've felt that he's improved with each new album and The Ascension takes me to another realm of holiness and thirsting for God's presence.
It is a completely worshipful album, in the style of Phil's previous offerings of enthusiastic praise and worship about our King and Savior, Jesus. Every single song could be added to your Sunday morning worship set. My favorites are "Holy Light," "Carry My Soul," "This is Amazing Grace," "When My Heart is Torn Asunder," "Mercy" and the gorgeous closer, "Thirst." Phil Wickham is one of my favorite worship leaders, and he writes and sings songs with an amazing passion and with unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior.
Song to Download Now:
"This is Amazing Grace" (Get it on iTunes here.)
Good New Music| Posted September 19, 2013
I have been a Phil Wickham fan for many years and own most of his albums. This album is very good, maybe not his best, but very good. It is nice to be able to listen to the album on this website before buying, but I will definitely be buying this music. There are some very good upbeat songs and I like his version of This is Amazing Grace.
Awesome worship!| Posted September 17, 2013
I fully look forward to having this album! Phil has been my favorite artist since I discovered his music. I first listened to "Heaven and Earth" and loved the quirky, electronic sound. Then jump back and listening to "cannons" and music prior was hard to adjust to, but "heaven and earth" remained my favorite. "Respnse" was a mild disappointment for me, but I can still appreciate the worship behind it. I tried not to be biased and listen to this compared to "Heaven and Earth," and honestly, this may become my new favorite. No guarantees, though.
VERY worshipful! I'm one who is caught by the sound of the music first and then I notice the lyrics and usually I end up liking the music better for most artists. I usually only like the lyrics more than the music if the music isn't that great or if I have an image of Jesus from the words. The music is awesome, but gosh, those lyrics are beautiful. I can't even say how awesome :)
I just really dig it!
Ascending To The Greatest Album Ever| Posted August 30, 2013
I first heard Phil Wickham earlier this year when he did a song with Chris Tomlin on Burning Lights. That song Thank You God for Saving Me was by far my favorite off the album, if you haven't heard it you should go check it out. Still, that song doesn't compare to what I stumbled upon when I looked at Phil Wickham's top songs. Although I don't think he's had any great albums so far, Divine Romance and You're Beautiful are two of my favorite songs. When I saw that he had a new single I got very excited, but I was very disappointed. This Is Amazing Grace, the lead single, didn't impress me at all. Despite this, I looked into his upcoming album, and decided to pre-order it. I was shocked when the title track, Ascension, came on. On the chorus he sings Let us start the ascension/ Let's begin the climb/ Up this holy mountain/ Where you're glory shines/ It sounded nothing like anything I've ever heard from him before, and I loved the track. It kicks off the best worship album I've ever heard. Holy Light is a nice song too, with a catchy chorus that makes you want to sing along. Carry My Soul is the third track. Phil Wickham sings brilliantly, asking god to carry his soul away. The lyrics and singing are top notch on this track. Over All relies on more modern sounding instruments and leaves the guitar behind, but doesn't feel out of place on the album. He sings Forever we will glorify/ The god over all/ The god over all/ The god over all/ It is a great worship song. When My Heart is Torn Asunder continues the pattern of beautiful music. Phil Wickham's smooth voice shines even more than usual on this song. Unfortunately I don't think this song will get enough radio play because it is a pretty slow track, but it deserves to be on the radio. Wickham sings My body might be dying/ But I'll always be alive. His lyrics are on a new level. Just when I thought the album couldn't get any better, Mercy came on. There's nothing I can really say about this song that could exaggerate how could it is. I will say that he couldn't have done a better job singing the word mercy. Glory the eighth track, not to be confused with the eighth track called glory from The City Harmonic's album, is a nice change to a faster pace. Tears of Joy is a solid song, although it doesn't compare to most of the other songs on the album. If you pre-order this album you get the acoustic versions of all songs (except Mercy because it is already acoustic). Wonderful is a good song, but Wonder (Acoustic) is an even better one. It takes away all the instruments and lets you focus on Wickham's great voice. The only complaint I have for this album is that it only has 11 songs. The closing track, Thirst, has the best verses in the entire album, and a good chorus. In case you haven't realized what I'm trying to say yet, you should buy this album! It hasn't officially released yet and it is already my favorite album of all time. You can pre-order it and hear the whole thing now at philwickham.com. I got package C, which gives you an album stream and an instant download of the tracks Ascension, Carry My Soul, This Is Amazing Grace, When My Heart Is Torn Asunder, and the acoustic versions of those songs.