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She wrote "Shout to the Lord", a song still sung by millions every week. She has served as a part of Hillsong Church for over 25 years, with many of those years as a worship pastor. She’s a wife and mother of three, and she and her husband just became senior pastors of Hope Unlimited Church in Australia. She has founded global mission efforts such as HOPE:Rwanda. And now she’s set to release her highly anticipated third studio album, You Are Love.
How does Darlene Zschech do it all?
“Serving God is and has always been our life in whatever form it takes, whether it is leading worship, loving our family, serving the community, being in the House of God,” Zschech says. “Ministry is not just on weekends. This is a 24/7 calling, but as we do this together as a family, then it seems to have a great flow.”
It also helps to have a singular focus through it all: the love of Christ. This simple truth has been at work in Darlene Zschech, and songs have been alive in her heart as a result. Amidst all the ministries and transitions, the songs would not let her go.
This theme of love pervades every song on the new album and every aspect of Zschech’s life. “I just keep thinking that when it all boils down, when the music has long been silenced, when our roles and what we do have changed and morphed, when we are old and grey... the great LOVE of our awesome Lord remains the same.”
Zschech was born in Brisbane, Queensland into a musical family, and it did not take her long to join in. “My parents and two brothers and sister all sang and played instruments,” she recalls. “I’ve been singing since I was three years old. I was ten when I began performing in a weekly children’s television show, singing, dancing and hosting segments. At the tender age of fifteen, I committed my life to Jesus Christ, and since that moment, His plan for my life has continued to unfold as I have learnt daily that Jesus is both my Lord, and also my best friend.”
With You Are Love, Zschech brings her signature ability to communicate grand, sweeping themes with both power and tenderness. There are soaring choruses alongside simple, heartfelt expressions of praise. And when the theme is God’s love, the message is life-changing.
While the album comes in a time of change for Darlene and husband Mark, taking on a new role in a new church has actually afforded her some cherished time to devote to music. “It has been a season of transition, but also a beautiful season of having a little more space to enjoy the writing process, and actually dive into the creative processes in all their musical and artistic forms. It really has been wonderful.”
The joy Zschech has found in that process is apparent throughout You Are Love, as powerful songs explore the call and the consequences of the great love of God. The bridge from the title track captures this theme: “Love that is healing, love that is trusting, a love that demands my heart and soul / love that awakens my purpose and being, Your love / You are love”.
Her radio single "Under Grace" reflects a personal time of realization that we don’t have to strive or struggle for our salvation. “I wanted to put that understanding to music,” Zschech says. “I want people to feel like the pressure is off, to let grace just wash over them.” A gorgeous string arrangement echoes Heaven’s refreshing rain.
"I Will Wait", co-written by Zschech and Israel Houghton, opens with an unapologetic declaration of our need for God: “I will not be in a hurry / I will pour out my heart on my knees / I would rather have You in this moment than anything.”
These tracks demonstrate one of Zschech’s goals for this collection of songs: “I always pray that people will be challenged to lean in a little closer to God, to hear Him speak and know His voice, to desire the presence of Jesus in their lives more than anything this world can offer, to have their hearts broken again for anyone who is suffering, and that their hope in Christ would be fuelled again, no matter what situation they are in.”
The presence of Jesus is also found in "Face to Face". This stirring anthem, featuring a soulful vocal from Zschech and Barry Southgate, uses sparse and delicate production by Paul Mabury to describe the safety and reassurance of God’s face.
At the opposite musical extreme is "Saving Me", a bright, infectious tune that lights up the highest octaves of the piano, leaving listeners smiling, dancing, and celebrating the sound of salvation. Listen for a charming guest vocal by none other than Zoe Jewel Zschech, Darlene’s ten-year-old daughter, who continues the family musical tradition. She wrote her first song when she was five, and it wound up being recorded on a Hillsong Kids album. Darlene describes Zoe’s enthusiasm: “She just loves the studio, loves to write and sing, and loves to worship Jesus.”
There’s that word again… love. As it celebrates God’s love, Zschech’s album becomes, in its own way, a place of refuge, a place to breathe in God’s presence and worship Him. From a woman overwhelmed with a Savior’s love, that’s a perfect place to be.
“After so many years of singing, writing, leading worship and leading teams,” Zschech concludes, “I find today that my heart is more focused and more passionate than ever about the importance of worship in our everyday lives, that HIS worship and worth will be declared on earth now and in heaven for all eternity. I count it an honor to say I will spend the rest of my days, every breath declaring and announcing that our God is here, that He IS LOVE defined, and can never be praised enough.”
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