What's that song? "Return"

Many of you have requested more details of song we sang this past Tuesday at the weekly Gracepoint Fellowship Church prayer meeting. Kelly Kang, who leads our prayer meeting introduced the song “Return” by Jon Klinepeter. You can find the song on iTunes under the album Eucharist. He is apart of  a band called ‘Mission‘. You can also download the song chart on their site here.

Buy/Listen to it on iTunes

Note: If any of you have a song you are wondering about, please dont hesitate to comment and ask!

Tutorial: Solution – Hillsong United

Tutorial on how to play Hillsong United’s Solution by Mike who’s on the Gracepoint Worship Team

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Album Review: Hillsong United – Across the Earth

Hillsong United - Across the Earth

Hillsong United - Across the Earth

Hillsong United-  “Across the Earth” Album Review

If you wanted to get someone excited about going to a worship concert, your best bet would probably be to mention Hillsong United.  The Aussie band, with its distinct flavor of rousing pop-rock and stadium anthems with epic builds, is arguably one of, if not the most popular worship band out there.  If you’ve gone to a contemporary worship service anytime in the last 3 or 4 years, then chances are you’ve sung along to their songs.  Across the Earth, with its obviously stylized title, is the first new offering since 2007’s All of the Above.  That album signalled a break from the group’s past albums, not so much in style, but in that it was a studio album, as opposed to one recorded live.

This new release sees Hillsong United returning to a live recording, replete with the “Do you love Jesus?!?” shout-outs and  thunderous clapping from the audience.  This album, like its predecessors, follows the tried-and-true Hillsong formula.  There is the anthemic opener, “Freedom is Here”, which starts and ends with a catchy synth line that weaves throughout the song.  “More than Anything” and “No Reason to Hide” continue the momentum as both are solid, power-pop/punk tunes.  The lyrics of the opening songs are celebratory.  They aren’t particularly eloquent or poetic, even by Hillsong standards, as much as they are straightforward and obvious.  The band switches gears and slows down the pace with “King of All Days”, “Desert Song”, and more tracks which continue the tradition of melodic ballads interjected with slow musical builds, but leave no lasting impression, aside from the fact that they are mildly enjoyable to listen to.

Across the Earth concert

Across the Earth concert

One drawback of Hillsong is that afterwhile, you know what to expect musically from the band.  Rousing pop-punk songs are followed by introspective, acoustic-driven ballads which either fade effortlessly into the next worship song, or provide a slow build that ends in a long, cathartic musical release.  Of this middle section of the album, “Soon” provides the high point, with Brooke Fraser singing beautifully of her longing for Heaven.  The song brings back United’s departed lead guitarist, Michael Guy Chisslett, who provides U2-like guitar stylings which elegantly frame the piano-driven ballad.  The album ends with 2 crowd-pleasing hard-rock numbers which bring back the momentum. “Yours Forever” is probably the most distinct song on the album, which somehow seems right out of a 80’s hard rock/hair metal album.  The singer gets the crowd going with the half-screamed chant of “Yours Foreveeeeer” and harmonized dual lead guitars reference bands which probably existed before even some of United’s own members were born.

Across the Earth won’t disappoint the most dedicated of fans, but upon repeated listenings, it does not provide the highlights from previous albums such as From the Inside Out, The Time Has Come, Hossana, or Lead me to the Cross.  What is clear is that with live recordings, songs can suffer.  Compared to the mixing from the previous live albums, the drums and bass thud and boom heavily, while vocals and guitars in general aren’t distinctive, leaving a thick but sometimes unclear sound.  On some songs, you can hear the crowd competing with the singers’ voices, and while it may be great to have such full audience participation, on  “More than Anything”, the high-pitched shrieks that consistentlly ring out are more distracting than anything else.  From a mixing point-of-view, Across the Earth does not have the clarity of sound that its predecessors had.  As one who particularly favors United’s guitar work (which, like almost every other worship/CCM band out there, seem to draw huge inspiration from U2’s The Edge), the songs here don’t really showcase the beautiful ringing tones I was listening for.  Part of it is the mixing of course, but it seems like since lead guitarist Chisslett left, the remaining guiarists are left with less inspiration and seem to be entranced with thicker, flatter tones.  Across the Earth is a solid album which presents more of the United formula.  It may be the best that CCM has to offer at least for this half of the year, but its counterpart, More than Love, to be released later this year, will hopefully rise to the high expectations that United has set for itself in its phenomenal run of the past 3 years.

Review contributed by:

Michael Fu – Electric Guitarist for the Gracepoint Fellowship Church Worship Team

EI8HT HOUR SHIFT comes to Gracepoint Berkeley!

gracepoint berkeleyWe certainly had a different praise experience this past Friday – instead of our normal MYT and Bible Study, we started with Bible Study and then had our first ever concert here at Gracepoint Fellowship Church with Eight Hour Shift, a Christian alternative rock band featuring Pastor Jon Choi, the speaker at our most recent Gracepoint Summer Institute. For those of you who remember, in addition to teaching us some new insights on the Old Testament, Pastor Jon Choi also entertained us with some pretty awesome acoustic guitar solos last time he was here. Well, this time he came back with his band – and they were a lot of fun. There were a lot of great moments to remember, from the testimonies to the different instrumental solos to hearing the only Asian guy that I’ve ever seen singing scat. I personally enjoyed the way they incorporated a lot of jazz riffs into their music – it’s been awhile since I heard music like that!

But, even more amazing is the way that all of the members of the band are not just musicians who like to get together to praise God, but also the fact that they are all leaders in their own respective ministries around the country as well, serving God as best as they know how. It’s great that they can get together and fellowship with each other and serve God and people like us in this way as well!

Reflections: 2 Timothy 2 "Remain"

Gracepoint Fellowship Church - Starfield

Gracepoint Fellowship Church - Starfield

For those of you who do not know, each week here at Gracepoint Fellowship Church, Berkeley we spend time dwelling on a bible passage, usually just one chapter. As life gets busier and busier, we make sure to try and take time to stop and reflect on God’s word (which we call Devotion Time) each day. You never know God can speak to you through his words; whether it be to encourage, strengthen, comfort, or even to challenge you.

As we are going through the DT in 2 Timothy 2 this week, I was particularly struck by verse 13…

“if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.”

I thought this is so true of God, that even when we stumble and fall in our sin, even when we have the many moments where we decide what’s best for our lives, God remains faithful to us. He is tried and true, the only constant in our lives and for that I am so thankful. All I have to do is reflect on my life and I can see and point out multiple times in which God was faithful and he somehow turned me back towards him when I went wayward.

This verse also conjured up the song “Remain” by Starfield (I Will Go – Album).  As I went back to read the lyrics and listen to the song, I was blessed at their truth of who God is:

Defender of this heart
You loved me
from the start
You never change

Through the highs and lows
As seasons come and go
You never fail

Day after day
Your love will remain
Faithful and true
You are good

[Chorus:]
You are God with us
You’re victorious
You are strong and
mighty to save
For Your word stands true
There is none like You
And when all else fades
You remain

When troubles come my way
You guide and You sustain
Lead me, I pray

Forever You will be
The great eternal King
Now and always

Day after day
Your love will remain
Faithful and true
You are good, you are good

When all else fades
You remain

You remain

Cause’ day after day
You never change
Day after day
You are the same
Day after day
You remain

Tutorial: Our God Saves – Paul Baloche

Hey everyone, here’s a good acoustic guitar tutorial tutorial video from youtube for this song! You might recognize the song because we do sing it here at Gracepoint Berkeley. Check it out and please don’t forget to comment.

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Breakpoint: How good it is to thank the Lord!

“Does God intend us to merely listen to music—or to sing ourselves?”

“I don’t sing very well, so isn’t it better for me to just listen to the music during worship?”

Well, whether you sing well or not, check out the latest Breakpoint commentary from Chuck Colson about this topic, and let’s lift up our voices together and sing praises to God Most High!

Favorite worship song @ Gracepoint? Suggestions?

hillsong-united-look-to-you-album-cover

hillsong-united-look-to-you-album-cover

Hey there members of Gracepoint Fellowship Church, Berkeley! We did this survey a long time ago but I’d like to bring it back. What is your favorite song to sing during worship times? OR What songs would you like to sing? Please leave a comment with your favorite song title and artist as your feedback is important! I will compile the stats for the top 10 songs and artists submitted.

Keyboard Tutorial Videos

In case you haven’t noticed, we are developing a resources section here at our Gracepoint Worship blog. For those of you who have been bummed that there’s no keyboard MYT this summer, we are publishing our own keyboard tutorial videos, made by our very own Dominic! He’s currently serving as our keyboardist at Gracepoint Fellowship Church Austin, Gracepoint Berkeley’s sister church. Here’s the fourth installment of the series. Check out the Resources Page for more videos!

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Lessons from Leading Praise: Know the Song pt 2

Here is a story contributed by our David Lee, our Gracepoint Fellowship Church, Austin worship leader.homer_doh

“…as I lead the austin band, there was one sunday where john lin was leading and we were getting ready to do our closing song which was a new one. During invitation time one of his students comes to the front and he goes to pray with him. P.manny then tells everyone that we’d be closing w/ a final song. John is still praying and ppl are looking at me waiting for me to start the song. I’m standing there with my guitar and start strumming the intro when I realize that I forgot how the song goes; so I stop, walk over to dom and ask him how the song goes and he gives me a blank stare as if to say “ur on ur own”. Finally, john walks to the front and we resume after much laughter. Luckily henry wasn’t recording.”