GRAMMY and Dove Award nominated worshipers All Sons & Daughters, acclaimed author and pastor Jamie George and a film crew ventured to Europe to trace the lives of C.S. Lewis, Saint Patrick, John Newton, Saint Thérèse, Saint Francis, William Cowper, Saint Augustine, George MacDonald and others, mining for undiscovered gems, something to connect these individuals to modern believers. The resulting epic journey into the lives and stories of these Christ-followers that God used to wake up the world, Poets & Saints, releases Sept. 2 from Integrity Music and David C Cook.
All Sons & Daughters' fourth full-length album, Poets & Saints, was produced by Chad Copelin (Crowder, Gungor) and mixed by Shane Wilson (Brandon Heath, Vertical Church Band) and Sean Moffitt (Newsboys, Jordan Feliz). Alongside the album is Jamie George's book, Poets and Saints: Eternal Insight, Extravagant Love, Ordinary People, and the video-based curriculum and study guide, Poets & Saints: A Community Experience, which George and All Sons & Daughters members David Leonard and Leslie Jordan collaborated on to create. Together these resources form an interactive worship experience that introduce 10 important influencers in Christendom, while making a very human connection between their lives and the lives of Christians today.
What Leonard, Jordan and George did not anticipate was the creative and spiritual wakeup call for them. "We knew God was doing something we could never have imagined beforehand," Leonard says. "It was only after we got back from Europe and began seeing the video footage, the lyrics coming to life, and reading sections of Jamie's book, that we began to experience the life-changing nature of the process."
"The more we uncovered the truth about their lives and how they communicated with God, the more important it became to us to show how they're still influencing our lives today," continues Jordan. "We believe God is transcendent in His nature... so He takes something that is ancient and plants it in the present to wake us up."
"These songs and stories stirred up all kinds of questions," adds George who crafted the Poets & Saints book to be a unique blend of biography, travel memoir and spiritual insight, taking readers from a pub in Oxford to a cathedral in the Italian hills and beyond. "One of the most beautiful ways to know God better is to learn from those who served Him in other times and cultures... these saints and writers are not abstract, hopeful representations of what we should be. They were actually really broken people who chose to feel through their suffering. That takes a lot of courage, and that's why, years later, we call them poets and saints."
Creating a "soundtrack" out of their own experience in this unique journey, Jordan and Leonard's Poets & Saints album draws from a theological well. From the ambient opening of "Heaven Meets Earth" to the benediction of "Creation Sings," each song testifies to the limitless creativity and mercy God has for His creation.
The album's first single, "I Surrender," which was co-written by Jason Ingram and inspired by the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, sets the tone for the collection. This track, as with every turn on the album, explores new sonic territory for All Sons & Daughters.
"From jazz, bluegrass, country influences and Americana, we really stretched our legs creatively, as far as sound goes," says Leonard. "We sampled sounds all over Europe, from the sound of clapping under a bridge, to the hairbrushes in William Cowper's house, to waves crashing on the beach... and we used those as percussion in the album. We threw everything out and started taking more chances, still mindful of serving the church, but diving into the opportunity to expand our creative fences."
Expanding on the connection between the songs and the poets and saints who inspired them, George's book deepens the experience as he examines the lives of these extraordinary people. Each chapter illuminates the life of the individual, less from an academic approach and more from an intimate look at their humanity. The corresponding video curriculum and small group study guide dig even deeper, asking questions that shine light on the readers' own journeys.
"We are all poets and saints," says George, "we all have something to say, and whatever we have to say comes from our places of brokenness."
"Our hope is that in this music, book and curriculum, people will find connection, with one another and connection with God," says Jordan. "A place of vulnerability and discovery where there is freedom and forgiveness... conversations that generate spiritual health, a ripple effect that changes people's lives."