John Burland’s newest album, All Are Welcome Here was released in March 2019. This music continues in the tradition of faith that many have come to love and recognize in John’s music, yet branches out creatively in his expression of worship as an artist. This new venture led him to Nashville, Tennessee, where he teamed up with producer Stephen Lewieke at Yackland Studio to create a powerful expression of praise and worship. The result is an album of 10 faith-filled songs with a message of truth and celebration that is sure to span generations, as they proclaim that “all are welcome here in the house of the Lord.”
We asked John to share the inspirations behind each track on his new album. Here are his answers.
1. "I Believe" Music is a powerful way to engage our hearts and minds to declare what we believe. There is something very beautiful in simply stating, "I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit..." It is very powerful on its own. These are the truths we can always fall back on, as I have learned throughout my life. Faith is ever present but you particularly draw on it in times of great sadness and times of great joy; in those times you realize the gift you have in your faith.
In this challenging day and age, many of us are walking a shared journey of faith. And I think there's nothing more powerful than when people come together to worship! When we affirm our faith together, we stand as one and are strengthened. These particular times call for a different style of song than what I've been used to. I've been writing and composing music for over 20 years, with many songs written for children. With this project, I felt it was time to move into a new direction with a song that's relatable to all ages, and all walks of life. Genevieve Bryant joined me in writing and singing this song. I hope that as you listen, it inspires you to joyously proclaim your faith!
2. "Now Go" This song is based on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 -- "Go and make disciples of all nations..." Over my life I've learned how important it is to listen to God's voice, and how to respond and GO! I travel extensively, visiting over 100 different communities every year all over the world. Through my travels, I have realized the importance in sharing your own faith with others you come into contact with. Through music, you can take people on a journey in a different way that enriches and nurtures their faith. That was an inspiration for this song to encourage all to go and follow God. Just as the apostles did long ago with their hearts on fire with the Holy Spirit, we are called to go forth and spread the Good News to every nation on earth!
This song was written with my producer Stephen Leiweke. When I first brought this song to his studio in Nashville, the chorus was not quite right - it lacked energy and flow... together we were able to come up with a high energy chorus carrying a strong, vibrant and powerful message. It was a lot of fun to see it come to life!
3. "All Are Welcome Here" At a time when some Churches want to complicate God's message of love by constantly reminding everyone about man made rules and regulations, this song aims to get back to the foundations of our Faith. Simply, our God loves each and every one of us, and we are all welcome in God's house. "All are welcome here in the house of the Lord..." This is the title track of the album because I want everyone to know through listening to the record that they are welcome in the arms of God!
4. "Lord Bless Me on this Day" This was written last year on a plane somewhere between Sydney and London (a 22 hour flight). With the crazy life I live traveling, my only real down time is while singing and making music, or while traveling on a plane. It's always a creative and reflective time when I'm on an aircraft - especially on a long-haul flight! I was sitting on the plane and I was just thinking how blessed I was to have the opportunity to travel and do music in my faith, but at the same time thinking of all of the events I had coming up - so my mind started to race. Then, the song started to take shape... it began as a prayer to calm and still my mind and be present. I took it to Nashville and Stephen had some really great input which rounded out the song into what you hear today.
The song went from a personal prayer to a fully produced track, and now it's one of my favourite songs to do live! I first sung it live at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, and it was a very powerful moment.
5. "Firm in the Faith" I was asked to write a series of songs to assist students in preparing and celebrating World Youth Day in Madrid. This was one of the songs written for that event, and it stuck with me so I had to put it on this album! This was my first collaboration with Australian artist/songwriter Gary Pinto. The song was written very quickly in a few hours in a session where we also wrote another two songs.
This song is about being planted, standing firm and not being shaken from our faith. It was based on 2 Cor 1:24, "... we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." In a way this scripture was a gift for us to write the song!
6. "Holy Lord is Your Name" The holiness of God is something that is truly worthy to be praised. This song comes out of Revelation 15:4, "Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
The essence of why we gather as Christians is to praise God together. We all have our own struggles, and I wanted this song to be a bridge to bring people together in worship. I wanted it to be relatable to people to sing as a prayer, yet also have a connection to sing all together. We proclaim together, "Holy, Lord is Your name..." The simplicity is what makes this song powerful... it's a chorus you can repeat to yourself to pray.
7. "God Reigns" This one is closely based on the scriptures Luke 1:38; 26-55. It is a proclamation of faith, to declare that "God Reigns!", as well as identifies the incredible faith of Mary the Mother of God in accepting God's call. Mary is a model and an example for each of us today in our own lives. The chorus of "I place my trust in You, O God..." serves as a reminder to us all to continue to trust God, no matter what comes our way!
8. "Love Came to Earth" This was actually written while waiting for the check in counter to open at LAX, of all places! My wife's going, "What are you doing?" and I replied, "Oh, just writing this song!" I'm singing away and humming and writing the words in my iPhone! It ended up being one of the first songs written for this album.
It has a deep theological and Scriptural foundation, but at the same time also a link to our own personal journey that we struggle with each day. "I stumble and fall on my way to you Lord..." It's become another favourite to do live- a singable and congregational chorus allows for great audience participation, which I love!
9. "We Sing For Freedom" This song was inspired by the life of Josephine Bakhita. She was an incredible woman who lived through slavery and came out of it as an incredible woman of faith. All through her journey, it was an incredible witness to faith. After finding out about her life, it deeply moved me and inspired me to write this song. I want this song to be an anthem for freedom, especially related to human trafficking and modern day slavery. This is a cause that's extremely important and cannot be overlooked. It also draws on scripture, Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."
Capturing the right rhythm and beat for this song was initially a challenge -- but it turned out exactly right, thanks to my producer Stephen Leiweke and Will Denton! There's also an incredible choir you'll hear in the song, which was recorded with a Youth Choir from Sydney Catholic Schools!
10. You Are Home A few weeks before I was due to depart on my UK tour, Rebecca, a young member of staff from the office in Sydney, tragically passed away. Rebecca's love for God and witness to the Gospel showed through in everything she did-particularly her dealings with people. I attended Rebecca's funeral a few days before I was to fly to the UK. The service was beautiful and attend by many hundreds of family and friends. As I came out of the Church that day, I was standing on the steps looking down on a sea of people in front of me and around me. I could feel the raw emotion and the overpowering grief but I could also feel such a strong sense of faith and hope that through our belief Rebecca was now be home in the arms of her Father who loved her and she loved so faithfully.
The truth is, I wasn't even going to put it on the album. I simply wrote it as a way of coping for myself after the loss of Rebecca. And then I realized there are probably many other people who are going through similar situations... so I realized I needed to share it. You Are Home is a song of comfort for those experiencing grief or loss of a loved one, which reaffirms our belief that we pass this way briefly on our journey to be with God our Father in eternal life and love.
Final Thoughts: After 14 albums, I think this is the one I'm most proud of. This project challenged me and ended up being more personal than any of my previous work. I have more of myself in this album than any before. Thank you for reading, and for listening. I hope this album encourages your heart to know that no matter what you've been through, you are welcome in the house of the Lord!
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