History of Hymns: "Shout to the Lord"
"Shout to the Lord"
The Faith We Sing, No. 2074
Darlene Zschech (b. 1965), a native of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, is the best-known face of the Hillsong Church, a Pentecostal Assembly of God congregation in Sydney, Australia. The music of Hillsong is undoubtedly the best-known church music export from Australia. In a discussion of congregational singing in Australia, Hillsong always figures prominently.
Ms. Zschech (pronounced “check”) is the worship pastor for this congregation. Her signature composition, “My Jesus, My Savior (Shout to the Lord),” was published in 1993. Ms. Zschech began as a member of the praise team at Hillsong Church in 1986 and became the director of the worship and creative arts department in 1996.
“Shout to the Lord” has maintained high popularity since its publication in 1993. Based on figures provided by Christian Copyright Licensing Incorporated (CCLI) top 25 songs for 2007, the song was ranked fourth in Australia, ninth in the United States and third in the United Kingdom.
The refrain of the song echoes several of the psalms, especially Psalm 47:1, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (KJV). Later in the refrain, the phrase, “I sing for joy at the work of your hands” is drawn directly from Psalm 92:4: “For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.”
The song ultimately has a personal tone beginning with “My Jesus, my Savior, Lord, there is none like you.”
Psalm 96:1 is also a theme: “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.”
Though she refers fleetingly to classical music in her book, Extravagant Worship: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty Who Was and Is, and Is to Come... (2001), singing new songs, especially from the Psalms, is a biblical mandate for Ms. Zschech, who teaches on average 35 new songs a year. Songs have power to unify, touch the heart and strengthen us for battle against the powers of evil. Ms. Zschech speaks to this in her book:
“The Lord is sending new songs for us to sing. They are prophetic songs. They are songs of praise. They are songs of unity, songs of intimacy and songs of war. They are rising among us, restoring peace and righteousness. They are songs of grace and forgiveness, songs of mercy and compassion, songs of strength and justice, and songs of power and might. The sound of worship is being restored to its rightful place and being offered to its only Benefactor.”
In this tradition, facilitating “praise” (exuberant exaltation directed to God) and “worship” (a more reflective personal connection to God) determines quality of a song rather than its lasting value over decades or centuries. “Passion,” interpreted as total personal commitment, is a word that comes up often from those who participate in music-making at Hillsong.
Hillsong youth pastor Phil Dooley places the musical goal of Hillsong within the context of a larger purpose: “We also want to unite with young people all over the planet who also share that same passion. Reaching out to lost friends, seeing them come into the kingdom, and really just passionately worship God.”
Mr. Dooley’s passion to reach the planet reflects Ms. Zschech’s dream that she would “have a major part to play in changing not only the face but also the heart of every worshipper in every church on the planet.”