Review: Joy by IHOPKC Worship Leaders (Live Album)

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Thanks to Kim Castro, Melanie Siewert, Mat Reames and Billy Hutto for reviewing JOY for The Worship Community.

Buy Joy on iTunes // Forerunner Music

Kim Castro (facebook.com/kim.castro)

“In November 2009 the Holy Spirit moved upon a class of IHOPU students with physical healings, deliverance, and a spirit of joy, beginning with the IHOPU student awakening. Joy is a snapshot of the worship from this season of encountering the Lord.” (IHOP)

The album, suitably titled Joy, is indeed a powerful impression of the International House of Prayer’s student worship sessions. IHOP, founded by Mike Bickle in May of 1999, is an evangelical missions organization dedicated to prayer and worship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The opening track, Joyful, Joyful, begins with piano and voice singing the first verses of Beethoven’s ever-beautiful Ode to Joy turned hymn. After a few measures the rhythm kicks in along with brass, guitar, and bass, turning this classic favorite into a more modern expression of praise. The original music and lyrics “we sing in jubilation, adoration to our King…I got the joy, I got the joy!” add a bit of gospel spice. This song would be a great opening praise song for a modern worship service.

One of my favorite songs on this album is Awake. Musically, the arrangement is very expressive. It begins with a strong declaration of belief, “I believe it…I’m convinced of the power of His love”, then continues into a very catchy hook and strong rhythm. This song is excellent for worship, but due to the complexity of the melody, the unpredictability of the intervals, and the syncopation of some of the rhythms it would probably need to be taught before a congregation could comfortably sing along.

I love the opening bagpipes in the song Freedom. The use of strings evokes a rollicking, dancing rhythm as percussion joins in this freedom song. It is definitely a wonderful instrumental and encourages a feeling of freedom emotionally and physically. I can just imagine the students at IHOP worshiping mightily with this one!

Holy Ghost Party is an exciting song that utilizes electronic effects. It is in the style of the pop/dance genre. This arrangement is a great way to get youth engaged in worship. The vocalists are strong, singing both a capella and with instruments. It is repetitive and easy to sing. Youth worship leaders will appreciate this one for its inventiveness and sense of fun. This is appropriate even for younger, school aged children, as long as an explanation of who the Holy Ghost is is given!

The final track on the album, Shekinah, is an appropriate finish to this work. It begins with the line, “We wait for you to walk in the room” backed by piano, pad, and drums. Textures are added for interest and the song builds dramatically to emphasize a sense of expectation. This is an excellent choice for congregational worship as it is repetitive and easy to sing. It brings people into His presence in a beautiful way.

Overall, this album has much strength, musically and lyrically. It is perfect for worshiping in the home or at a gathering. Those worshipers looking for an exciting, passionate sound should add this to their music library. Worship leaders wanting songs that will lead congregations into His presence with a sense of joy and wonder should definitely give this a listen. It is a work well done for His glory.

Kim Castro is a worship leader and songwriter hailing from central California. Her heart is to obey the Great Commission and to serve others as God leads.

Melanie Siewert (twitter: @melasie // worshipvanguard.blogspot.com // facebook.com/mesiewert)

The music on this release was recorded at the most recent Student Awakening meeting at International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Although the songs on the release have a “conference” feel, there are a few songs that stand out as potential additions to Sunday morning setlists.

The IHOP band has a very good mix of various styles, and incorporates instruments such as violins, trumpets, flutes, and bagpipes. Every song is high energy with the exception of “I Knew What I Was Getting Into.” With that said, this is not a typical “worship” album. What I like most about “Joy” is the musical versatility. Styles are not limited, and it seems the musicians have freedom to be creative with musical fusion.

Each song reveals reasons why we should celebrate and have JOY!

  • Joyful, Joyful is a pretty good arrangement of “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” A brand new chorus and bridge blends well with the original melody of the well-known hymn. With its high-energy nature, I would recommend this arrangement for either youth meetings or modern contemporary services.
  • Awakening Melody is a good song for victory and celebration, and would make a good song for setlists. It is short, around 2 ½ minutes. So, it may work well as an opening song or ending song in a more contemporary worship service. The melody is very catchy and can stand on its own, so it is versatile for other arrangements.
  • Marriage Wine may not necessarily work well for congregational singing but may work well in a youthful meeting. Although the song references when the church (Christ’s bride) will be reunited with Jesus, I’m not sure how the lyrics would connect with a younger (mostly spiritually immature) audience. The music itself is really good. It’s high-energy, the instrumentation is incredible, and the melody is very catchy.
  • He’s Alive would make a GREAT Easter song. I highly recommend this song for future setlists. In the beginning of the song, I’m not sure if the lead vocal is singing a spontaneous worship moment or if it is part of first verse. However, it leads very well into several repeated phrases before it gets to a very powerful chorus. The melodies can stand alone, so it is should easily adapt to other arrangements.
  • Every Captive Free has a wide range male lead vocal part. The melody also jumps intervals uncommon for the average male vocal. If this song were to be used for congregational singing, I would recommend either using a very strong soprano or a strong tenor. The lyrics and melody are pretty powerful.
  • I Knew What I Was Getting Into is a ballad from the Lord’s perspective towards His children. Lyrically, it’s a great reminder to believers that God knows what He’s doing.
  • Freedom is a very high-energy instrumental using violin, bagpipes, flutes, and electric guitars. The blend of the various instruments gives it a very modern Celtic feel.
  • Percussion Instrumental is really good! It’s not often people hear various percussion instruments in a form of worship, although biblical. I loved every second.
  • Holy Ghost Party is a dancing song. It’s a good song to dance to, but I’m not sure how well it would work in congregational singing. For those congregations that have dancing as part of their weekly services, this may be a good song to encourage celebration of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the place.
  • Shekinah is my favorite on this release. For services willing to invite the Holy Spirit to have His way, this is a MUST addition to a setlist. “Release the fullness of your Spirit.”

Overall, this is a very good release from IHOP. Most, if not all, of the songs would suit a more youthful setting provided other bands played them in the same arrangement as the recording. There are a few that are versatile enough to arrange in other styles such as Joyful, Joyful, Awakening Melody, He’s Alive and Shekinah. Anyone who listens to this release will not be disappointed. So, enjoy worshiping with IHOP KC with Joy!

Melanie is a Christ follower, wife to a wonderful man of God, and mother of two incredible boys. She has several years experience mentoring high school worship bands, and desires to continually write music for the Lord’s church.

Mat Reames (twitter: @matreames // matreames.wordpress.com // facebook.com/matreames)

On Black Friday, IHOP-KC’s Forerunner Music released their latest Live album. It is called Joy – Songs from the IHOP Student Awakening. I must admit, I have been looking forward to this album since @justinrizzoihop tweeted about it over the summer. The main reason I am excited is because I spent a lot of time at the IHOP Student Awakening. I was in many of the services that were recorded for the Live album. As you can imagine this makes me feel a stronger connection with the CD because I can remember all the mighty works that God was doing in my life at the time of the Student Awakening.

The Album begins with Laura Hackett and her team leading the song Joyful Joyful which is a modernized rendition of the Classic Christmas Hymn Joyful, Joyful, We adore Thee. However, This song moves away from the basic Christmas nature of the song and focuses more on the joy of God and the pleasures of loving him. This is a song that would fit well in a church service all year round.

It then goes into the Awakening melody with Justin Rizzo and his worship team which is a wonderful Celtic inspired instrumental track. This gives way to my personal favourite song on the whole album, Marriage Wine from Jon Rizzo which is Justin’s Younger Brother. This song speaks of the joy of the Father, the gladness of His heart, and the marriage of the Bride with Christ. I was there in person the night That John first released this prophetic song and was undone by the Father’s Love for me. It blew me away in a way I hadn’t experienced in some time.

After this, we come back to Laura Hackett’s team with the song He’s Alive this is a good song and quite singable. It is one that might work well with a church congregation, but it is very much done in the IHOP style of music. It is followed by Matt Gilman’s song Every Captive Free which is one of my highlights on this album. Matt is known for writing the song Holy whch has been covered by Jesus Culture and Klaus Kuehn among others. Every Captive Free is not a vertical worship song in that it isn’t singing about God’s attributes, but rather its us remembering what he has done and the freedom he has given. Its just delightful and Matt has the perfect voice and feel for this type of song.

Misty Edwards makes her only appearance on this album with the song I Knew What I was getting Into. I am not really a Misty Edwards fan, but this song I like, because its a song about the fact that walking with Jesus is not always simple, but we press on anyway and there is great reward.

The Next two songs Freedom and Percussion Instrumental are both from Justin Rizzo and his team and are mainly instrumental songs. They are wonderful, but not really the songs you are going to adopt into your Service Song Rotation.

Cory Asbury and his team appear next with the song Holy Ghost Party this is a great youth song. Heavy with the synth and other unique sounds in the song it is upbeat with almost an electronic feel to it. Its not one that would bode well in a mixed congregation, but for youth services, its great.

Finally the album ends with Shekinah by Jaye Thomas. This is My Second favourite song after Marriage Wine This is probably the most congregational friendly song on the album. Its slow to mid tempo through much of the song. Its a song of a people waiting on the Lord to manifest himself in our midst. Its a great song of Waiting on the Lord. I have used this in several services already, and will continue to do so for a while.

Over all, I rank this as the best Live album the IHOP-KC has ever put out. The mix of songs is just wonderful and the variety on the CD makes for a solid hour of live music.

Mat is serving in an internship with a Church in Lawrence, KS  where he serves in worship leadership.

Billy Hutto

I have the privilege of reviewing Forerunner Music’s newest release from IHOP. This album is a compilation of songs from the recent student Awakening gatherings. That being said, this album is not one continuous recording, but still an incredible CD nonetheless. Laura Hacket, Misty Edwards, and Cory Asbury are just a few worship leaders included on this album, among many other powerfully anointed worshipers. In classic IHOP fashion, there is plenty of free and spontaneous worship. Even with this free flowing worship, there is still plenty of content that can be used in both contemporary services and traditional worship services alike.

Joyful, Joyful: This a version of the classic Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You with a fantastic beat, synth rhythms, and killer harmonies. This is absolutely usable for any church! This song has great potential for a lot of congregation participation since most people will be familiar with this classic song. It should be a great addition to any lineup. I particularly love the chorus. In fact, the worship team I am apart of at Covenant Connections Church will be singing this version of Joyful Joyful in our Christmas service this year!

Awakening Melody is a powerful song about victory over death in Christ Jesus and freedom. This is not a song like most traditional songs, with a set of versus and a chorus. This is more of a chorus of victory. There is a beautiful violin featured in this song. I think this song would go over well in a free worship setting. In a more traditional style of worship, I believe this song could be coupled with another song of similar chord progressions, rhythms, and subjects (victory and freedom!). This song flows well with the next song “Marriage Wine.”

Marriage Wine is an awesome song about the wedding feast with the Bridegroom. Incredibly powerful! Again, as many of the songs on this album will be, the song would work very well in a very contemporary worship setting. I am going to say that a more traditional worship service could still pull this song off very well. The words are very powerful. I can see this song slowed down just a bit in a traditional worship setting going over very well.

He’s Alive: I really like this song. The “verses” are a little different, but I like how it is not a typical sounding song. The “He’s Alive” chorus is nothing short of powerful, singing of victory over death. I would definitely considering adding this song to your arsenal of songs. This is definitely one to keep in mind for Easter, or Resurrection Sunday as I like to refer to it.

Every Captive Free: This album has a “freedom” theme to it. Not every song sings of freedom in Jesus, but there are definitely several that do sing of our freedom in Christ Jesus. This song is another good song. I can see this song going over very well in a traditional setting, with a lot of soft melodies at times. A more contemporary worship setting could just as easily do this song, building on the already driving beats at times, some wailing guitars with some fuzz and some massive delays…I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

I Knew What I was Getting Into: This song is a spontaneous chorus. There is such a sweetness to this song. It expresses God’s endless love for us, His people, regardless of what we do. As far as doing this song in worship, it might be a little more difficult than a typical worship song with a solid verse-chorus structure. I can see this song going over well in a free worship setting or even as a special, by itself.

Freedom/Percussion Instrumental: I’ve coupled these two songs together. Both are instrumental songs. I love the string line in Freedom. It has a River Dance sound to it. This song could be used to pep your congregation up, liven the atmosphere with some great solos by anointed musicians. The Percussion Instrumental track is just that. I probably wouldn’t schedule this song as one of the major songs in my lineup, but I would definitely use this between songs. I love a great instrumental track, especially percussion!

Holy Ghost Party: I can sum this song up like this: I LOVE this song! Completely contemporary, driving rhythms, great keyboard synth sounds, great vocals, a hint of chanting, and a lot of soul! I personally would do this song as maybe an opening song. A lively congregation should really like this. If your worship is more traditional, don’t fret. I would suggest trying this song, but scaling down the energy a bit. If you are still skeptical, try it with your youth worship band. It should go over great with a young crowd.

Shekinah: This is probably my favorite song of the entire album. Shekinah sings about standing in God’s presence, asking God for His Shekinah Glory to come down. There is passion behind this song, a sweet presence, and a strong anointing behind. The end of this song goes into a fast, almost cut-time rhythm. In my humble opinion, this song is very diverse and can be used in any worship setting. The contemporary, the traditional, the young and old alike should have no problems incorporating this song into their worship service.

Overall, I really like this new Forerunner Music album. I’ll admit, I am a little biased because I love anything from IHOP. I would definitely pick up this album, regardless of the style of worship at your church. It will bless you for sure. I would encourage you to look at these songs, as well as any worship song, with an open mind and what you can do to incorporate it into your worship service, rather than picking out why you cannot use a particular song. Happy worshiping!

Billy Hutto is a songwriter and musician and serves in worship leadership at Covenant Connections Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Buy Joy on iTunes // Forerunner Music



is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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