It started way back in 2013. As a preview to their perennial album, the Hillsong Worship team would drop a teaser near Easter each year. As a baiting single of sort, such a release serves two ends: first, this is to whet our appetite for their forthcoming live release. And second, and more importantly, to service the church at large with new tunes to worship during the Easter season. In 2013, they released "Man of Sorrows" ahead of their "Glorious Ruins" album; then last year, "Calvary" preceded "No Other Name." This year, the Aussie mega-church has come up with "O Praise The Name (Anastasis)" in anticipation of their yet-untitled new album.
The bracketed coda of the song's titular "Anastasis" is most telling. "Anastasis" is the Greek word for "resurrection." Though the New Testament word doesn't surface in the lyrics of the song, it compasses the direction of the song. Instead of chasing current EDM trends or frivolous lyrics that guises as a religious love song, "O Praise The Name (Anastasis)" is a hymnic slow-paced worship ballad that trumps on its well-laid melodic structure and its theologically resplendent lyrics.
Written by Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, and Benjamin Hastings, it's a joy to see Marty Sampson back on the frontline after a substantial hiatus. Calling to mind the aforementioned "Calvary," "O Praise The Name" is an emotionally heightened chronicle of a graphic three-dimensional portrayal of the last few moments of Jesus' earthly life from the moment of his death to his resurrection. Sung with gravitas and emotions, the song thrives on its picturesque lyrics: "His body bound and drenched in tears/they laid Him down in Joseph's tomb/The entrance sealed by heavy stone/Messiah still and all alone." How can our hearts not bleed with love for Jesus after singing this line?
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