Hillsong Young & Free
is a new music ministry coming out of the youth of Australia's prolific songwriting church, Hillsong Church. The group, led by Laura Toggs, released their debut album, We Are Young & Free
, on Sept. 30.
Hillsong's ministry is worldwide, and their songs are sung by millions weekly. Their songs, including "Mighty To Save," "Stronger," "Forever Reign," "God is Able" and "Hosanna" are an ongoing blessing to the global Church. Each new chapter of Hillsong's music ministry from Darlene Zschech to Reuben Morgan to Joel Houston has built on the previous legacy, and once again they are setting a new trend musically with the electronic dance music-based worship of this new music ministry.
Earlier this year, Hillsong UNITED released Zion
, including the hit song, "Scandal of Grace," and also "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," which features Taya Smith on vocals. The first time I heard Taya singing the lead vocals on "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free, I was hooked. The song has such a contemporary sound, and the message is inspiring for believers of all ages, young and... not as young, for the free in Christ and for those looking for freedom.
I had the opportunity to interview Alex Pappas and Johnny Pappas from Hillsong Young & Free about their exciting worship song "Wake."
Please tell me about the message behind the song.
Alex: The song story is that after a Sunday morning service, we have a grand piano in the corner of our auditorium, and I sat down at the piano. I had been reading Psalms 100. It is one of my favorite psalms, and I think it is a lot of people's favorite. I especially love the part where it says, "The Lord is good, and His love endures forever." That struck in me the idea that led to writing the pre-chorus of this song: "You will never fade away, Your love is here to stay." The lyrics have relatively changed, but the general idea has remained. That part sprung out of Scripture, and I was thinking of a different and fresh way of saying that to the Lord. At that point, I tried writing the rest of the song, and I wrote verses and a different chorus that did not stick.
Then, I met up with one of our campus worship pastors, Hannah Hobb. We sat down and started working on the verses of the song. Some songs start from a point of "we were lost, but now we're found." We thought it would be cool to have a praise song that doesn't even bring the lost factor into mind, but instead sings, "at break of day, in hope we rise." From the beginning of each new day, when we wake up, we have this hope. That is the main idea of the song. That birthed the verses. I suppose later on we wrote a chorus that day. Johnny, should I mention how funny the next part was?
Johnny: You might as well tell the whole story.
Alex: Initially we had this chorus and the idea was that it would stir people to lift their hands. The idea was that it was playing on a pop culture idea that a lot of pop songs call people to lift their hands. When you are listening to a song on the radio and the singer tells you to lift your hands, usually that stirs you to lift them up. I thought maybe it could work in a praise song. We wrote a chorus that said, "People, lift your hands up." It didn't fly quite as well. I still think it can work, it just didn't work in this song.
Johnny: It's dead, Alex.
Alex: I'm committed to it; one day it's going to work.
Which Bible verses connect to the message the song?
Psalms 100 (The Voice):
"Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth. Serve the Eternal gladly; enter into His presence singing songs of joy! Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the True God. He is the One who made us; we have not made ourselves; we are His people, like sheep grazing in His fields. Go through His gates, giving thanks; walk through His courts, giving praise. Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name. Because the Eternal is good, His loyal love and mercy will never end, and His truth will last throughout all generations."
John 7:38 (NKJV):
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
Psalm 63:4 (The Voice):
"I will bless You with every breath of my life; I will lift up my hands in praise to Your name."
2 Samuel 6:14 (NKJV):
"Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod."
What's the takeaway message for listeners?
Alex: From that point, we had taken the song to a producer and were working on it, and saw the need for a new chorus. Hannah and I brought in Joel Davies from our church and we wanted to do the song at a youth event. We sat in someone's really tiny office an hour and a half before the youth event trying to come up with a chorus, all around the lifting of hands. Joel had the idea of the morning, and break of day we rise, the idea of "You wake within me" came to the table. From there we structured the fact that there's nothing that we can do to command Him to wake. He lives within us. His Holy Spirit resides in us. That also connects to John 7:38.
First off, the basic message of We are Young & Free is bringing a voice to the current generation of youth that we are a part of. The line "shining through me every day" is a way for us in the way that we structured the song that after we say, "You will never fade away / Your love is here to stay." After we say declarations about Him as an outward focus, then we change to "shining through me every day" is the declaration that young people can sing and fully accept that we can shout that praise out. The idea is that leads to the instrumental part. We hadn't really done that before where we could have a part of the song where people could dance and praise God. Hopefully people hearing the song will have that sense of relief and excitement that He is shining through us.
At break of day
In hope we rise
We speak Your Name
We lift our eyes
Tune our hearts
Into Your beat
Where we walk
There You'll be
With fire in our eyes
Our lives alight
Your love untamed
It's blazing out
The streets will glow
Your glory's breaking
Through the night
You will never fade away
Your love is here to stay
By my side
In my life
Shining through me every day
You wake within me
Wake within me
You're in my heart forever
Forever, forever, forever
In Your love
Forever, forever, forever
We know that
Appropriately as I was speaking with Alex and Johnny across the world in Australia, it was six in the evening for me in Pennsylvania, and it was eight in the morning the next day for them. In fact, Alex and Johnny were just waking up which connects to the song message. When we go to sleep, and when we rise, we can all be praying the words of this song, "You will never fade away, Your love is here to stay, by my side, in my life, shining through me every day."
One of my favorite aspects of writing these devotional articles is that I love when I learn about the things that didn't make it into the final song, and it's really fun to get to know what the songwriter was thinking about when they wrote the song. There are many pop songs that say "lift your hands up." There are also 36 Bible passages that reference lifting our hands up to God.
The energy and excitement of this song is infectious, and it makes me lift my hands up to God, and dance before Him like David, unashamed, with all of my might. God enjoys when we have abandon before Him, like David, a man after God's own heart. You won't be able to help but want to dance and sing along with this super exciting new song of praise.
This song celebrates the fact that once you are a follower of Jesus, that through the Holy Spirit, He is in your heart forever. We need to pray daily that the Holy Spirit shines the Light of Jesus through us every day. With a fresh filling, and singing along with this song, you can have the courage and excitement to live biblically. If you are having trouble living a biblical lifestyle, this song is a great way to connect with God daily in a fun and exciting way. That's cause for a dance party. This song and this great new album is a wonderful way to celebrate!
(Watch the music video here