Miriam Webster is known for being a worship leader at Hillsong Church. Many of her songs such as "Made Me Glad," "You're Faithful," "Dwelling Places," "Exceeding Joy" have been recorded by Hillsong Worship and they have become worship staples across many churches worldwide. In 2010, Webster released her solo album "Made Me Glad," which also features a duet with Hillsong Worship matriarch Darlene Zschech.
In 1997 a friend of Webster invited her to attend Hillsong Church. And during a Friday night youth service,the church had no one to lead worship. That was when Webster stepped up to the platform where she led her own self-written song "Fall Upon Your Knees." From then on, Webster has gone on to record with the team for their Live albums and she has led worship in services, rallies, connect groups, and conferences.
We are so honored to chat with Miriam Webster for this exclusive Hallels' interview.
Hallels: So glad to be able to connect with you. Miriam, tell us how did you start to write, sing, and record with Hillsong Worship?
I started writing at around 9 years old ..I could play about 3 chords on the guitar so all the songs were in the same key and very funny to listen to now! I'd spend hours in my room listening to music, writing songs & "poetry" & sang first at my home church & school conventions from around 11. Years later when I was in Sydney at Hillsong youth group with friends one night they needed an item. My cousin was in the band playing piano so he asked if I would sing a song I had written that he knew so I did. I was thinking of going to another church but I made friends there and about 6 months later I joined the creative arts team and began singing with them.
Hallels: Over the years you have written so many songs for Hillsong including "Made Me Glad," "Dwelling Places," "Exceeding Joy" and many others. Which song or songs are you most proud of? And why?
They all have different meanings to me so I don't really have a favourite but one I remember staying up nearly all night to finish was 'Do what you say'. There was a time line & I enjoyed having to draw a 'soul feel' out for that one. It was really fun to play with the words around the chorus. I like the declaration of it. I asked Darlene it she would sing it because there was a high note that I knew she could hit really well.
Hallels: When you write a song for the Hillsong team, what's the process a song needs to go through before ending up as a cut on the live album?
It wasn't always the same but normally I'd record something roughly on my piano & hand it in to the leader. Later on when the church had a studio I'd book it for a time slot when they could. I'd just write the chords I 'thought' they were called above the words and ask one of the guitarists if they would play for me. So thankful to friends for that. I remember being told they thought a song I wrote didn't sound completed so I went home, put it aside & eventually changed it. I'm so glad for that now. Mostly the band would all sit around & workshop everyones new songs to get a good feel & arrangement. Then we'd try them in Church and see how they went there.
Hallels: What is it like working with Darlene Zschech? What is it about her that most encourages and inspires you?
Darlene is fun to work with and lovely so that's always a great start. One of the many things I love about Darlene is her heart for truth and the leading of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. I constantly see her stopping for people and encouraging them wherever she goes. Also Darlene makes the best sticky date pudding ever! So thankful to God for beautiful friendships who are Jesus lovers.
Hallels: I believe the latest song you have written for Hillsong Worship is "You Are Faithful" on "Saviour King," what happened after that? Did you leave the Hillsong team after that? And why?
Around that time I actually planned to invest in a house there but I ended up instead looking at remixing an album I'd done. I was singing in America and visiting some friends and after singing in one of my friend's churches I met up with some guys from a Christian label who were there that day. We decided to do a new album from scratch and I ended up basing in Nashville for about 3 years so I felt it best to be in that church while I was there. Thankful for that season & great friends!
Hallels: You have also recorded your solo record "Made Me Glad." How did you come to record this album? What were the highlights in recording this album?
The album I recorded in Nashville was called 'Made Me Glad'. I needed to come up with some completely new songs so I enjoyed having a timeline to work on various ideas I had & then complete the songs. I actually had a dream during this time and could hear 'Fall Upon Your Knees' playing which was a song I wrote in the 80's and the same song I sang at Hillsong that night I was at youth group. I knew I had to put it on the album and I loved that. I also enjoyed seeing a whole new way to record albums with musicians that I hadn't met before. They just wrote number charts for my songs and then played them straight away. It was an incredible experience to look back on & I can see it helped me with confidence in learning to listen to myself, listen to others and of course trust God for His leading.
Hallels: What have you been up to lately? Have you been writing any new music? Any plans on a follow-up album?
Yes I've been writing lots of music. I'm not sure exactly when I'll record yet and at the same time excited about when I will in the future. I've been working on various writing material, helping in church at home, travelling around and enjoying the beach just up the road ..
Hallels: Many of our readers are aspiring songwriters, what do you think makes a good worship song?
I believe the most important thing is being a worshiper in our personal lives. Songs that come from a heart of worship are powerful because they have the breath of God on them. We can take people where we've been before and welcome the Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do.
Also I believe that writing from a truth in God's word revealed to us by the Holy Spirit is powerful. When any writing is centred around a hook like this it will be life giving and make a way for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Hebrews 4:12 says His word is alive, powerful and sharper than anything, cutting/dividing between joint and marrow (healing) and even cutting/dividing our very thoughts and intentions that are unseen .. that's sharp! John 6:63 says 'the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life'. I heard an amazing teacher say awhile ago 'It's not our gifts, talents or anointing that will get us through. The only thing that will get us through in the long haul is an ever growing, ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ'.
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