Being Zion in Babylon
This is Stephen’s first album and it is in many ways the chronicle of Stephen’s journeys both musically, lyrically and theologically. Every song is an original, written at various parts of his walk of faith, as he encountered moments of insight and wrestled with concepts and ideas about God and His plan for our lives.
The album also represents the diversity in musical tastes and textures that is the harmonic mosaic of Stephen’s life. Growing up in New York City he was influenced strongly by the gospel and R&B sounds, he studied classical music for many years and in his college days became fascinated with the plethora of sounds and styles of music from around the world.
As you listen, may the truths of scripture represented here find the deep place of your hear and become a part of you. This is future worship.
(Matthew 20:28, 2 Corinthians 1:9, John 19:30)
On a Good Friday morning I finished our team devotions wrestling with this feeling that the message of Easter had become too familiar. In my heart I had a cry “God make it new and fresh to me again.” I stood in front of the keyboard and began to play and as I did, I thought about the reality of what God did for us. How would I describe it in contemporary terms, then it came to me – I was kidnapped. All of a sudden the words and melody began to flow and the song was birthed. I wrote a first-draft in about 30 minutes and sang it that night.
(2 Peter 1:19, Revelation 22:16)
One morning I was reading Revelation about Jesus being the Morning Star and felt I wanted to write a songs about it. In my strange sense of humor I decided to build the verse melody loosely off of the first few notes of a children’s song that also had the word “star” in it (can you guess it?). From there I found myself captured by John’s description of this glorious God, and was also gripped with a longing for the world to see Him as He is.
(Psalm 143:6, Ephesians 1:17)
Like David when he wrote in the Psalms of his discontent and longing for God, this song came from a time of reflection as I saw in my life an empty pursuit of the temporal and felt as if I was losing my focus. The cry of this song is a plea to move beyond a static happiness into dynamic intimacy with God. The end of the song is Paul's prayers "Oh that I might know Him!"
(2 Corinthians 4:18)
Sometimes it takes hours to begin to write a song, other times the seed of the idea happens in a moment. Such was the case with this song which was actually a spontaneous prophetic song that I sang out during worship at an Eagles’ Wings conference. We had been talking about the fact that worship is entering into eternity and that concept is what the chorus is all about – having an awareness that heaven is always present and eternity is at hand.
This scripture has for many years been a very special verse for me. My father wrote a book Presence Powered Life, about the reality of "Christ in us." Preparing to lead worship for a weekend conference based on this theme, I began to play and sing and this song was birthed. The magnificence and simplicity of the reality of Christ in us the hope of glory is what I hope people carry with them from this song.
(2 Corinthians 4:6)
Preparing for an Eagles’ Wings conference of the same title, I felt compelled to try to capture the essence of (2 Corinthians 4:6) and express in some way the magnificence and glory of this concept of God as the ultimate Light. As I sat down to write, this very epic ballad began to take shape, and I began to think about how the saints in other ages would express this. I decided to incorporate this element of church history with the Latin text sung in a more ancient song form "Gregorian Chant", celebrating God’s light down through the centuries.
I originally wrote this song spontaneously at the keyboard as a response to message Robert Stearns preached from Psalm 68 about “history being God processing through time.” It was originally recorded as 6/8 anthem on River 5 “Dance with Me.” In this version I decided to make it more of an upbeat and aggressive proclamation, with a "spoken word" declaration at the end from excerpts of Psalm 68 (MSG).
(Genesis 12:2, Joel 3:16, Amos 9:11, Isaiah 60:1)
This song was begun many years ago, as I wanted to communicate the truth of God’s enduring covenant with Israel in a way that was accessible to many people and free of Christian jargon that could be confusing. Recently as I worked on it I found myself creating these three verses that tell the story of Israel through three vignettes – Abraham, the prophet Amos and the re-gathering and establishment of the State of Israel. My prayer is that many would hear “Zion’s Call.”