Last week ( June 17-19) we were so privileged to participate in the fulfillment of a dream. The first set of original songs written by Victory worship leaders and songwriters were recorded live over three days at Victory Fort. What an event it was!!! It was jam-packed and every single day was a new crowd. Can’t wait for the album to come out (pegged for August).
Singers: Jam Capistrano, Cathy Go, Teri Ho, Isa Fabregas, Barbie Almalbis, Yan Asuncion, Lee Brown, Joel Barrios
As one of the volunteer worship leaders in Victory Greenhills, I’d get involved in the process of preparing some of the most heartfelt, God-encountering, spirit-filled songs for our regular weekly church services. Together with our full-time worship director Charles Bautista, volunteer administrators, and my other co-volunteer musicians, we’d pool in the best-of-the best worship songs from all around the world. I guess it is the same story for guys like Yan (Victory QC), Lee (Victory Malate), Jam (Victory Ortigas), Julius (Victory U-Belt), Archie (Victory Fort) and so many others. But that’s just the thing, the songs we sing every Sunday that you hear at your local churches are pooled in from somewhere else, and not our own.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think we’re still going to be doing that. But for a long time now we have also desired that one day we would be able to have our own set of original home-grown worship songs. Yes, we’ve tried home-grown a couple of times before. But this time the desire has been all the more greater and I truly believe the timing is all the more relevant now than ever before to carry these home-grown songs and the message from one end of our very large family to the other end and make them go so much further beyond. Victory is one church in many locations and we are on a mission.
As someone who has had the privilege to take a sneak-peak and get up-close to witness how this particular project all got started (and I still don’t quite know the whole story), here are some things that I learned that one should consider in writing songs of worship:
- Christ- Centered
A great teacher/theologian who I was privileged to have learned from, Paul Barker, taught us that worship songs should be rich in content. And the content should always communicate the gospel. Worship songs should be centered on what Jesus has done and not on how we feel. How we feel would just be communicated as a response of what Jesus did, but it should not be the core of the song.
One of my favorite songs in the upcoming ‘Victory Live‘ album is the song “Your Grace Changes Everything” co-written by my very talented friend Jose Villanueva (the artist also known as Quest), Neli Atiga (our pastor in Singapore en route to Australia) and Fina Wowor from Indonesia. The song speaks about God’s grace that transforms and heals us. The chorus goes like this:
There’s no sin too great
There’s no pain too deep
The cross declares it is done
There’s no shame too real
That His love won’t heal
Forever the victory’s won
Your grace changes everything
I so wish I could give you guys the Youtube link right now so you know how it sounds. Tell me if you see something in your Facebook timelines that I can post already? : )
- Carries the CALL of the Church
As a congregation, our leaders would always remind us that we are all about honoring God and making disciples. This has never been so overemphasized and over-communicated and that’s a good thing. We have to go back to the “why” we are doing what we’re doing. The vision and the mission should be clear and should be communicated. The songs of worship that will come out of the borders of Victory should carry that call of honoring God in every aspect of our lives, and the call of making disciples in every nation. It’s about going back to the heart of God, which is to reach and save the lost.
The opening song we sang last week during the live recording session is entitled “Faithful” co-written by Victor “Yan” Asuncion, A.Arcilla, M. Magsaysay, and M. Luna. This must have been written a few years ago because it is in Yan’s WILDFIRE album and the folks in Victory QC have been singing it for some time. But I’m so glad that it is catching on to the rest of the Victory family. I’m so glad it still sounds like a “new” song. That’s the funny thing about songs (and timing). The song “Faithful” talks about going out and stepping out in faith to follow God’s call.. because really, He is Faithful. So yes, “we will go” honoring God and making disciples everywhere.
Here’s the chorus and the bridge:
Oh, oh we’re giving You our praises
Oh, oh we’re living for Your name
Oh, oh we’re stepping out of faith, we pray
For your will to be done
We know that You have come before us
We have Your promise to proclaim
We are stepping out in faith
we pray for Your will to be done
We will go, we will follow you
As we hold on to, we hold on to you
I found the Youtube link to the original WILDFIRE music video. Here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLnZJ64MoeA and here’s a link to an unofficial video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KeYc1Pt2ds – I’m a big believer in “unofficial” videos too : ) No copyright infringement intended ofcourse.
The goal of a congregational worship song is for the church to be able to focus on God, worshipping Him in spirit and truth. The songs then shouldn’t alienate, but should give that atmosphere that invites the congregation to continue to soak in God’s presence. The songs should be sung by the people as one.
For some who attended the live recording, it may seem like Victory Music just started this year, and the only people involved are those seen on stage. But that’s far from truth. It takes a commUNITY to start something like this. Victory is so blessed to have a grammy awarded producer – Otto Price as the sound producer for this album , and so blessed with pastor Julius Fabregas (dad of the beautiful Isa Fabregas who you saw on center-stage) as the Executive Producer of this project along with Carlos Antonio and so many others working behind the scenes.
With Otto Price a few months ago (fan girl photo with Otto heheh)
There were so many things that went on behind the scenes before the June 17-19 live recording. Somebody else needs to blog more in detail I think.
I can only imagine that the whole process over the last couple of months has been anything but easy. Songwriters from various local Victory churches and Victory hubs would meet to write songs and submit them to the core team. I had the joy of collaborating with next-genration artists like Sarah Bulahan (behind the song “Jesus My Saviour”), Elle Cabiling and Emman Camcam in this process.
The core team would then meet regularly, exchange notes to screen the song submissions – what a difficult time they must have had to say “no” to a lot of people heheh : ) Each selected song would then get arranged and demos would be recorded. Really, the events of the last of couple of months can be traced even further back.
Kasama ko sila Lee (Victory Malate), Charles (Victory Greenhills) and Yan (Victory QC)
Back in 2012, pastor Paul Barker and pastor Gilbert Espiridion (our pastor from Victory U-Belt and former keyboardist of Passage Band) would meet us once a week to pray, plan and start writing songs of worship that could match the preaching series every month. Most of the songs written during that period were not included in the live recording, but it started a momentum where muscles are stretched to continue writing songs, and pride being broken into pieces when songs are edited or thrown into the trash bin.
Pastor Paul Barker
I am truly grateful with the leadership of our church to train their people. In 2013, we went through a year-long course called “Staff Development for Worship Leaders”. Even if I was not a staff member, I am just so honored with the invitation to participate. We were taught by Paul Barker about the theology of worship and so much more.
August 2013. With Pastor Steve and Pastor Ferdie. Best birthday treat ever.
Then a few months ago in February 2014, we had the “Worship Writers’ Workshop” (called the “W3”) trained by Mia Fieldes, John Katina and Otto Price. So honored to hear from some of the best song writers and producers from around the world. Some of the songs recorded last week in the very first “Victory Music” were birthed in that workshop.
W3 – Worship Writers’ Workshop
kasama ko sila Kitchie, Moira and others, paki tag nalang
It is going to take a real large number of people, united as one, to continue promoting this project. This is for all of us, and for the rest of the body of Christ who share the same passion of lifting the name of Jesus, honoring God and making disciples.
I encourage every worship leader, singer, musician to rally around this project. Whether you are young or old or young and free, you will get to hear more and more of these songs in the coming weeks in your local churches.
Finally before I get side-tracked, my last point is that the song has to be “catchy”. To be effective in communicating the message, the song should be relevant in this generation. It is such an honor to that I belong to a multi-generational family where the young (and free) get along just fine. It would greatly help the congregation, if the lyrics and melodies are catchy and ‘singable’.
The song by Joel Barrios “Shine Upon The Philippines” is such an anthem that has got thousands singing together in chorus. It was a big hit on cassette-tape back in the days but it is nowhere to be found on Youtube and so I’m thrilled that the next generation is singing it. There’s also a really good track coming up by Barbie Almalbis, Joey Benin and Kelvin Lim (from Malaysia).
But my all-time favorite song in the Victory Live album, is the song called “Radical Love” written by Yan and led by Cathy Go.
Cathy is just in her early 20s but what an amazing and powerful voice she has!!!
The chorus is so catchy that the melody kept on playing in my head over and over again for days. The chorus is so easy to sing and it captures the response of a person who has truly encountered the love of Christ.
Too bad there’s no way to let you guys listen over Youtube here, you’ll just have to wait till August to buy it on iTunes But I really really hope the lyric video comes out sooner!
Here are some lines of the verse and the catchy chorus:
No one else can save my soul
No one else can make me whole
Jesus You have won me
Your radical love surround me
Now I sing
Take my heart Lord, it is Yours
It is yours, oh It is yours
Take my life Lord, it is Yours
It is yours, oh It is yours.
I believe that every one of us has a song in our hearts. It doesn’t matter if you are a songwriter or not. But if that song lifts up the name of Jesus, it would help us walk in victory in every aspect of our lives.
May the love of God burst a song of worship in each of our hearts and let the whole world hear it!
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