Chris Tomlin is an interesting enigma. With nine No. 1 songs and over three million album sales to his credit, he’s one of the most successful artists in music. At the same time, he’s one of the least known. Ask anyone about Chris Tomlin and only a few will tell you they know him well.
There’s a reason for the subtle mystery. All the songs--including such anthems as “How Great is Our God,” “Forever,” and “Holy is the Lord,” the sold out concert dates around the world and the millions in CD sales have never been about elevating Chris Tomlin, but about worshiping God.
“I just love that God uses me,” he says, “but my role isn’t to grab as much attention as I possibly can, but to really point people to God. I don’t spend my time thinking how to make myself more popular, so maybe that why I there’s a bit of a mystery there.”
When Tomlin stands in front of a throng of believers, it’s his desire to disappear, to surrender to the Holy Spirit and help others release the concerns of the world and focus on worshipping the God who created them. He’s excelled at that calling for more than a decade and at the very heart of his ministry is an arsenal of songs that have become anthems, sung by believers all over the globe. His last three albums Hello Love, See the Morning and Arriving have been certified gold, signifying sales of more than 500,000 units and Arriving has been certified platinum with sales over a million, truly impressive feats in an ailing music industry. On the CCLI charts, which measure the songs used in churches, Tomlin has five songs in the top ten and 15 in the top 100.
He adds to that musical arsenal with a potent new collection of songs on his seventh studio album And If Our God is For Us. . . “For the longest time I had a different title for the album,” Tomlin shares. “At the end of the day though, I really came back to ‘And If Our God Is For Us. . .’ I just love that statement because if you really believe in God, everything is possible. Miracles can happen and all things are available to you no matter what you are going through. There’s a scripture that tells you that God is for you and who can be against you. I love the hope that’s in that statement.”
When it came time to bring that statement to life through music, Tomlin didn’t stray far from home. This is the first album he’s recorded in his own White Cabin Studio, located just down the hill from his house outside Atlanta. He again chose to work with longtime producer Ed Cash, but also recruited producer Dan Muckala, who has worked with Brandon Heath, the Backstreet Boys and The Afters, among others. “This is our fifth record together, so that’s a pretty good history,” he says of working with Cash. “God has used Ed in a massive way in my life and I didn’t want to walk away from that, but I did want to take a new step. This is our 10th year, a decade of music, so I didn’t just want to hit the cruise control and keep doing what we’ve always been doing. I wanted to push myself a bit.”
The result is an album that is as lyrically substantive as people have come to expect from Tomlin, yet a little more musically adventurous. “I wanted something that would just explode through the speakers,” Tomlin says. “When you hear the drums, it makes you want to move, but has the same heart of melody, same heart of worship. We didn’t want to lose that. It’s really cool because Dan had never done any worship music before, never produced any music written for a congregation. It was good that he could work with somebody in a different vein and let those worlds mix. Ed knocked it out of the park. He always does and Dan did as well. They approached it from a different place, but it’s really great to work with both and I think people are going to really enjoy to hear this music because it has that fresh sound that you can only get when you kind of mix it up.”
On And If Our God is For Us. . . Tomlin recorded a new version of “Our God,” a song that has already been enthusiastically embraced by audiences through the Passion conferences. “It’s not going to be what they are used to,” he says with a smile. “It’s the opening track of the record and I cannot wait for people to hear it.”
The first single, “I Will Follow,” has already become a hit at Christian radio, immediately taking root in the hearts of listeners with its powerful message propelled by Tomlin’s upbeat delivery. Another of the highlights of the new album is “Majesty Of Heaven.” “That is a simple worship song that I wrote on an acoustic guitar,” he says “and Dan has taken it and put this great beat to it.”
“No Chains on Me” shows a different side of Tomlin’s musical personality. “Matt Redman and I wrote the song, but now it definitely doesn’t sound like a Chris and Matt song,” he says. “It’s really fun and I can’t wait to play that live for people to hear.”
In addition to writing with frequent collaborators like Redman, Tomlin also stepped outside his comfort with new co-writers. “We connected with Jason Ingram for this album,” Tomlin says of co-writing “Lovely” and “I Will Follow.” “I kept hearing his name and we made it happen and man we have this really special chemistry songwriting together.”
Tomlin is well known as one of the industry’s most accomplished songwriters and that gift shines yet again on his newest album, especially on such powerful tunes as “I Lift My Hands,” which he co-wrote with sixstepsrecoreds/Passion founder Louie Giglio. “The song comes out of it. It’s just this picture of someone reaching out to God and saying, ‘Lord, I’m just remembering your faithfulness and I just need you now in my life. I’ve seen your faithfulness through the years of my life and I’m calling out again, I lift my hands to believe again.’”
“Awakening” Tomlin wrote with Hillsong’s Reuben Morgan. “We wrote that for the Passion conference,” he says. “It’s one of those global worship songs. I love that word and what it means, just to come to life, that faith rising up, that faith awakening and seeing eyes being opened to who God is and what He’s doing in the world. I just see it happening to more and more people.”
Tomlin readily acknowledges his new album was greatly influenced by his involvement in Atlanta’s Passion City Church, which just celebrated its first anniversary. Many of the songs were first heard by the congregation there and of course, its leader Louie Giglio. Tomlin’s hope is that the message conveyed in the title will impact those who come in contact with it. “I think when people see this in the stores and pick it up and see it online and see that title they will think: ‘God is for me today and I’ve got to believe that!’
“He’s offering life. He’s offering hope and he’s offering peace today. I just want people to really grab that when they hear this music. God is for us! Who could ever stop us? That really says everything and what we’re about in our music because we’re about more than just songs, about more than just making records and having songs on radio. We’re really on a mission here and God has given us a platform to travel all over the world and that’s so exciting. I’m so thankful what God has given us, but at the end of the day, it’s not just about the next song that comes along, it’s really believing in that and really living our lives that way knowing that God is for us and nothing could stand in our way.”
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