Prime Cuts: Stir a Passion, Praise the Lord (Evermore), All for Love (Gethsemane)
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Worship Central certainly knows how to stir a congregation to worship. Though many worship albums these days are marketed as soundtracks for congregational worship, an en mass of them are really more a collection of individualistic efforts by lead singers who function more or less as the "stars" of the record. You won't find it here on this new Integrity music release "Stir a Passion." Not only have the leaders checked their egos at the door, but this record has a rounded congregational sound with songs geared towards the entire church. But before we delve into a deeper exposition of this new record, a word needs to be said about the team.
Worship Central is a movement of worshippers who want to see the worship of Jesus Christ made central throughout our communities, local churches and the world. Led by Tim Hughes and Luke Hellebronth, their vision is for people to encounter God, for worshippers to be equipped and the Church empowered. Based in Birmingham, UK, they have trained, resourced and inspired worshippers all around the world since launching in 2006, with hundreds of thousands attending training events internationally and engaging with all the resources they have created.
"Stir a Passion" recorded live by Worship Central at "The Gathering" conference last fall. The 11-track album, which was produced by Willie Weeks (Passion, Matt Redman) and Jimmy James (GuvnaB, LZ7), follows Worship Central's critically acclaimed projects Spirit Break Out, Let It Be Known, Set Apart and Mercy Road. Though this is newly recorded project, not all the songs are new. Four out of the eleven tracks have first surfaced on their previous studio album, they are "Pray," "Praise the Lord (Evermore)," "Waves" and Tim Hughes' sublime "Hope & Glory."
Two factors are attributive to their congregational sound: first, many of the songs have such strong hooks that they don't require countless listenings for the tune-death to latch onto. Give the title cut "Stir a Passion" a spin and within a couple of listens you will find yourself humming. And this is one of the rare instances where we actually hear the congregation singing louder than the worship leader; a testament to the power of the song's accessibility. The same can be said to "Praise the Lord (Evermore)," "Glory to Glory" and "Majesty (O the Mystery);" they are not only catchy but they have an inviting presence that makes you want to stop in your tracks and worship along.
Second, the lyrics of these songs are succinct and relatively shorter than the majority of today's worship songs. This is not to say that the songs here are simplistic. Rather, songs like "All for Love (Gethsemane)" and "Pray," in fact, give expression to intricate doctrinal teachings such as the atonement and prayer respectively. They have a way of staking their point without bombarding us with the superfluous. Even a simple song like "Waves," which only comprises of 8 lines (save the repetitions), has the power to calm our nerves in the midst of our storms. It only goes to show that the power of worship lies not in the volume of words but the poignancy of well-chosen ones. In this regard, Worship Central is the trailblazer. So, if you are looking for something made for the church to sing in unity for Jesus, look no further than "Stir a Passion."