Reuben Morgan Interview

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A big thanks to Reuben Morgan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for The Worship Community! His latest project, Cornerstone, is available now. In true Hillsong LIVE fashion, this new project was recorded in Sydney, Australia with tens of thousands in worship, capturing the heart and sound of the Hillsong Church. The Hillsong worship team heard on Cornerstone include Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Ben Fielding and Darlene Zschech, Hillsong United, as well as many of their international teams from around the world.
The idea behind the title track was birthed out of an international tragedy last summer in Norway when more than 70 innocent victims were killed. Hillsong’s worship leader Reuben Morgan shares his response to this frightening shooting as he was visiting the Scandinavian Peninsula at Hillsong Stockholm.
1.  Tell us a little about Reuben Morgan. What’s happening in your life these days?

It’s actually a really crazy time in our family right now. We are relocating to Hillsong London for a season, which is really exciting; we have shipping containers coming to our house to move all of our stuff. Life is crazy but fun. On top of that, we’re about to release what I believe is our best ever album as a church, Cornerstone, and I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to see what it does in the lives of people.

2.  I understand that the title track is inspired by the tragic events that happened in Norway last summer? Tell us a little about that.

The shooting that happened in Norway really had an effect on me because I was in that region, in Stockholm, two days after it happened. And people were really shaken up by it—almost everyone knew someone who was affected by what had happened. When we wrote the song “Cornerstone” we were really thinking about how to help people respond to a tragedy like this—when there’s a feeling of uncertainty and everything that they know has been shaken. It’s a response to something that has happened and it’s a response when stuff goes in a completely different direction to what we were expecting. We can trust and build our foundation on Christ and we can hope in Him—even when everything else fails. And every Christian needs to be reminded of that. I know that it’s good for my soul to sing that because I need to know that ultimately, no matter what happens, Christ is my foundation and it’s going to be okay—even when it looks like it isn’t.

3.  As a worship songwriter, what would you say are your best “tips” when it comes to writing for the Body?

First I would say that you need to be dependent on God for inspiration. As a worship songwriter we need to make sure that our heart is towards God; that we’re seeking Him for what He wants to say to the Church and what He’s wanting to say to us.

Another tip would be to base everything that you’re doing for worship songs on the Bible. Make your songs paraphrases of the Bible but make them fresh. You don’t always have to directly quote scripture, but do make sure that you’re saying what the Bible says.
And thirdly I would say just work on your craft–there are no shortcuts. Like anything else, if you want to keep writing songs long-term and you want longevity in your songwriting you need to work on your craft and get good at it.

4.  What encouragement would you give to worship writers?

I would say just keep going, don’t be afraid to make mistakes–and don’t let anything rob you of your confidence. The reason I say that is because there will be plenty of things that try to, and you have tomake a decision that you’re not going to let anybody or anything steal your confidence and that fire inside of you that makes you keep going.

5.  What is YOUR favorite song(s) from this project?

Simply put: my favorite songs are the songs that church loves the most—what they love, I love. We always get asked how we choose songs for the album and my answer is always that it’s the church that chooses the songs. We bring new songs all throughout the year, some songs go great in church and some don’t. Sometimes songs that we think should go great don’t and it’s the church that decides that. They either respond to it, embrace it, and it becomes an impacting song for our church, or it doesn’t and we move on—they’re the ones who choose. The goal is always to serve the church and we’ve found that songs like Cornerstone, Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise), and I Surrender are great for church in this season. And what church loves, I love.

6.  What is God speaking into your life right now?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot on Psalm 103 where it says, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” It’s been really challenging me to remember how good God is in every situation—how kind He’s been, how much He’s given to and bestowed upon us, and that we’re blessed no matter what season we’re in.

7.  What word of encouragement would you speak to us (worship leaders, musicians, tech/sound, pastors, etc) as we “serve in the trenches” week in and week out?

Ultimately it’s God we serve and no matter where we’re at in life we have to keep God as our focus. I can remember different Hillsong Conferences and different seasons in church life where I was sure no one could see what I was doing. No one knew how early I was getting up or how late I was going to bed because of all the things that were on my plate and trying to make it all work. But ultimately our life and our work is unto Him—not to man but unto Him.

Thanks, Reuben! (@reuben_morgan)