The Man Behind So Many Sunday Worship Songs: Paul Baloche Releases New Album

Paul Baloche, the writer of iconic Sunday setlist staples like Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord, Hosanna and Above All has released his 22nd album.

By: Laura Bennett

You may not know his face, but if you’ve been in church for any length of time, it’s likely you will have sung a song penned by Paul Baloche.

Over the last 30 years Paul’s written many iconic ‘Sunday set-list’ staples for churches around the world, from Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord, to Hosanna and Above All.

With 21 albums under his belt and his 22nd Behold Him just released, ‘longevity’ is a word easily associated with Paul. But coming to this new project, he says he’s “just grateful” to still be making music, and thinks including new voices in his work is key to keeping the songs fresh.

“Whereas back in the day I would write on my own,” said Paul, “or co-wrote with someone in my church, as time has gone on, to keep things fresh, [I write] with what I would call, ‘next generation writers’. And on this album I’ve been able to include friends like Kim Walker-Smith, Kari Jobe and Chris Brown from Elevation Worship… and the title track was written with Australian writer Mitch [Wong].”

cover art for paul baloche's behold him albumBehind the scenes, Behold Him not only brought together a number of voices, but showcased the flexibility of modern song writing.

“Probably a third of the songs on my album I wrote across Zoom and Skype,” said Paul, “and I find it surprisingly effective – once you get used to looking at the green [camera] dot on your screen… and knowing it represents people that you’re normally with and care about.”

It’s an approach that also bleeds into Paul’s online-church worship leading experience, which has been his focus during the current pandemic.

“I try to picture [the congregation’s] names and the stories,” Paul said. “’I know these people, I know their lives and the stories and struggles they’re facing’; I try to bring all that empathy into the moment when I’m leading a song or presenting a scripture.”

The Power in Simplicity

While the songs Paul writes have usually been sung in mass worship gatherings, he thinks there’s power in the simple ways Christians are now expressing their faith throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“This experience strips it down [to a place] where we can’t depend on the things that bring us security and confidence,” said Paul, “like the lights and the sound, and the big teams and being surrounded by other singers.

“I’m finding as I lead some of these Sunday morning [online] services that… you really have to be authentic. You have to deal with anything that’s going on in your heart and in your life; you really can’t fake it.”

“It really strips it down and reminds me off the old Matt Redman song [that says], ‘I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus’.

“I’m finding as I lead some of these Sunday morning [online] services that… you really have to be authentic. You have to deal with anything that’s going on in your heart and in your life; you really can’t fake it.”

Getting Back to Basics

Leading worship in an online context, you can’t hide behind a big band and a flashy light show – which is a good thing, says Paul.

“[The online worship] is a very raw, and very vulnerable and naked thing where ‘there you are’ – just you and the Lord,” he said.

“I teach [church leadership] students to learn from this experience, and learn that it’s important to be developing a private worship life where we learn to worship the Lord in private, in secret in our walk-in closet… so that we can lead worship without all the [bells and whistles] and see if when the rubber hits the road, ‘I can worship the Lord in this room all by myself’.”

Through Behold Him, Paul hopes he’ll enable all of us to experience those worship times for ourselves too.

“I always wanted to write songs that our church can sing… that feel like our singing a prayer.

“[Behold Him] is a community expression of worship… and I pray that it will inspire people to look at the Lord form a slightly different angle.”

Behold Him is available now on all music platforms.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Laura is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

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