It’s not unusual for Christian colleges and universities to have chapel services and worship teams that lead music. But to have chapel every weekday with a full worship set, led by incredible student musicians playing original songs is certainly unique.
Worship Live, North Central’s worship team, will be live-recording an original album on campus, January 24–27. This every-other-year production of an original worship recording is designed to share a small piece of what NCU students experience daily in chapel with the world.
In 2015, the Worship Live album, Hearts on Fire, included a song (Love of God) that was selected by Worship Leader Magazine as one of the year’s Top 20 worship songs.
Cultivating student creativity through worship
Jeff Deyo of NCU’s Fine Arts faculty oversees the Worship Live teams. He is wildly enthusiastic about this year’s recording. “We always feel God is doing something special in our chapel and we just can’t help it that we want to share!”
Deyo described the creative process that goes into a recording like this, including weekly song-writing sessions that are open to all students, not just those involved in the music program—not to mention months of musical rehearsals. “There’s so much potential creativity ready to burst out of this place,” Deyo noted.
“Our number-one desire is to provide an outlet for students to express themselves to God and grow closer in their relationship with him—to really engage with God’s presence,” Deyo explained; “the instruments and songs are just tools to facilitate that.”
During the live recording sessions NCU will also be producing a music video of their new song, “Always Remain.” Deyo was excited because the song was started by freshman Taylor Marshall, who brought it to one of the weekly writing sessions and had other students and Deyo come alongside him to finish it. “It’s such a collaborative effort,” Deyo said.
Rooted in good music and sound theology
Recording chapel music became and NCU tradition in 2000 with Larry Bach, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “We began to recognize that God was doing something special in our chapels in the response of students to our worship.” Bach said, “So we began to explore writing some of our own worship songs.” This eventually led to making the charts available to the local church or anyone who might need new songs.
“The first recording was just four students and me,” Bach recalled. “The first year everyone was so excited! We pre-sold 1,000 CDs before it came out. You couldn’t go anywhere that semester without hearing that CD!”
Music availability has expanded exponentially since then, and the production process is more involved in the digital age, but Bach and Deyo both confirm that the heart behind Worship Live remains.
Bach believes that this process, one component of a comprehensive music and worship leader preparation program, is training the psalmists for the next generation, noting, “Having good musical training and also good theological training makes for good psalmists.”
“People can be excited about capturing [the music],” Bach said, “but the basic premise has never changed. God is doing something in our students on a continued basis in their response to God in worship. We want to capture that and have it be a blessing to churches and individuals.”