Album Review: What a Beautiful Name EP

Artist Interview and Review: Hillsong United’s What a Beautiful Name EP

April 11, 2017
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Worship powerhouse Hillsong United released an eclectic What a Beautiful Name EP. The EP presents six versions of the worship anthem, currently #1 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs. The studio and live versions are familiar, thanks to Hillsong’s 2016 release, Let There Be Light, and YouTube video with over 18-million views. The band introduces an acoustic and orchestral version on this EP–a slightly different sound with the same depth of emotion and power as the original. The gospel version features the piano behind stirring vocals. Finally, the EDM version comes to you courtesy of Hillsong Young & Free.

Co-writer and Hillsong worship leader Brooke Fraser explains the heart behind the EP. “With the release of the What A Beautiful Name EP this week we are hoping churches from across denominations and stylistic sensibilities can discover a version that uniquely speaks to their context and can equip them to lead this song whatever their setting, whether they have a full gospel choir at their disposal, a DJ set up, or simply an acoustic guitar” (press release).

“What a Beautiful Name” is one of my personal favorites, so I enjoyed the EP upon first listen. The Orchestral Selah stood out as a sort of instrumental psalm. The strings begin the journey of creation. The notes swell through time until the power of resurrection is realized.

The acoustic version invites contemplation on the lyrics. Perhaps more than any of the other tracks, the simplistic presentation of the acoustic recording allows the listener to trace Jesus’s name through scripture–from creation to his birth, then to his death and resurrection.

 

I asked Hillsong worship leaders about the first time they led Hillsong Church in “What a Beautiful Name.”

The first night we introduced it in church, we realized it connected with people even more than we’d hoped. We saw faith built in the room, expectancy rise and victory confessed. Within the song there is a balance of sound theology about God revealing Himself to humanity in and through Christ, personal lyrics about what that means for the individual, and then strong corporate confession about what that means for us today. Honestly though, you can analyze all you want but you can never explain away the God-factor. Sometimes God just decides to breathe on something and it’s completely His prerogative. The reach and impact this song has had outside of or church in such a short space of time was certainly not planned or anticipated. It’s very humbling. It’s a God thing.

 

“What a Beautiful Name” follows a long line of chart toppers, including “Oceans” and ” Touch the Sky.” I asked the worship team how they find fresh inspiration.

The process is the same – being open to the Spirit of God, with a motive to serve and give expression to the heart of God, being prayerfully diligent with the gifts He has given, and submitting the end product as an offering – being open handed with it. The goal would be to be faithful throughout the entirety of the process.

 

“What a Beautiful Name” is #1 in downloads on the popular worship app, Planning Center, indicating that congregations across the country are singing the powerful lyrics. Taken from Hebrews 1:1-4 and Colossians 1:15-20, 26-27, the song focuses on the beauty, wonder, and power of the name of Jesus. Hillsong United has a clear message to share through “Beautiful Name.”

This song is about the person of Jesus Christ and a multi-faceted revelation of His infinitely-faceted glory. The God we worship is Jesus–He is the image of the invisible God–and if we dare seek Him for who He really is rather than pursue an idea of Him that fits into our tidy boxes, He will blow our minds. Jesus is alive and well, His love is the most real and transformative force that exists, His Kingdom is within us and all around us and we all have a part to play. Nothing can disqualify us when we realize that it is His work on the cross and the power of His Name that qualifies us–nothing else.

 

What a Beautiful Name EP is available for download from your favorite streaming service.

 

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Kelly Smith is a small town girl who married a small town man. They have three children spanning preschool to teen. Her favorite indulgences are coffee, reading, writing, and running. Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking in the shadow of the cross. She blogs at MrsDisciple.com.

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