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Entries in cherry creek worship (7)


When the Holy Spirit Breaks Open the Worship Service (Or, the Surprise of Super Bowl Sunday at Cherry Creek)

Just in case you were mistaken, this isn't a worship service. It's a football game.Quite at the last minute yesterday, I felt nothing less than a strong compulsion from the Holy Spirit to urge our congregation to do something in worship quite foreign to us.  Many moons ago, I posted on physical expressiveness in worship with what I’ve found to be a very compelling argument. 

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The Christmas Song to End All Christmas Songs

Surprise and Merry Christmas!  We’ve recorded a single for the Advent and Christmas seasons.  It’s sloppy and joyful, just like the Incarnation.  And it’s available for you for ninety-nine pennies—the definition of “no brainer.”

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Without Our Aid, Promo Video, Plus a Ton of Free Resources


You can get the latest album from Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek Worship in a variety of ways.  We're making it awfully easy to get the album.

*Digital orders on our Discography Page

*Digital & Physical Orders - Bandcamp

*Digital Orders - iTunes

*Digital Orders - Amazon


Read all about the album here.  (production, style, art, vision, etc.)

Get FREE chord charts, lead sheets, tutorials, and more here.

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All About Our New Album, Without Our Aid

Without Our Aid is the second full-length release of Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek Worship, out of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO.  Their debut album, The Glad Sound, was their first hymns project, released in 2009, and between that time and the present, Zac has contributed to three other compilation projects with Cardiphonia: The Psalms of Ascents (March 2010) , Hymns of Faith: Songs for the Apostles’ Creed(October 2010), and Pentecost Songs (June 2011).


Without Our Aid is an experiment in songwriting for the sake of building bridges between two current camps in modern church music—the so-called “hymns/rehymn movement” and mainstream modern evangelical worship.  The album’s aim is to combine the energy and vitality of the modern worship sound (made most popular by groups like Passion and Hillsong), with the depth, theology, and historical connectedness of Christian hymnody across time.  From a songwriting perspective, the two do not easily go together: hymns are usually written in through-composed verses, while modern worship songs tend to have three and sometimes even four unique sections (verses, choruses, bridges, and “surprise” refrains or endings).  Though hymn purists might decry the liberties taken in bending and arranging the original hymn-texts, and though modern worship connoisseurs may consider the texts too verbose and archaic, our passion for greater growth and unity convinces us that Without Our Aid is a unique and worthwhile project.


The goal of Without Our Aid was to create an album which sounded live in order to capture that more tangible “moment” of corporate worship.  It is not a live album in the true sense, mostly because our current setting does not have the bandwidth to be able to pull off a live recording.  However, the recording was pieced together in the “live” setting of our reverberant, 900-seat, traditional sanctuary, employing ambient mic techniques for all the major instruments.  A backing choir of approximately 20-30 voices sang through the album multiple times; those sessions ended up being powerful times of worship themselves.
Stylistically, Without Our Aid is best characterized as a “modern arena-worship” record—big drums, driving electric guitars, layered synths, crowd noise, and a live “congregational” sound.

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We're Making Our Second Album

I’m excited to give my readership a view into our second album, Without Our Aid, due out in September 2011.  Tracking, for us, will be a months-long process, hopefully completed in mid-spring.  Our first album, The Glad Sound, was a more studio-style, pop-produced worship record, complete with percussion loops and rhythmic synths.  Without Our Aid takes the same concept of old hymns to new music in a slightly different direction.


In short, Without Our Aid is attempting a more live, “arena worship” sound—big drums, big guitars, big “stage-presence,” lots of verb, and lots of voices.  It is not a live album, but it will give off that air.  Since The Glad Sound, we at Cherry Creek Worship have grown in our musicianship, and the music—especially the drums and guitar work—will reflect that progression.  The drumming is very aggressive and at a few moments unconventional. Our vocalist roster has expanded to an additional female member, so four tracks on the album (as opposed to two on The Glad Sound) will be broken up between two female leads.  I am singing on the other eight songs, but I’m hopeful that this is continuing a trend toward greater distribution of lead vocals among our singers as God continues to develop our talent and pave the way for new records.  The instrumentation, over all, is a bit more limited to the typical rock band makeup—guitars, keys, bass, and drums—with the occasional peppering of other instruments here and there.  Perhaps unlike many other “modern hymns” albums (e.g. Indelible Grace, Red Mountain Music), this album is less musically introspective and more up-beat.  If you’ll forgive the violence of the metaphor, some hymns albums present the gospel by bringing you to your knees; this hymns album is a gospel-punch to the face.


The songwriting goal is to take the wedding of old hymns to new music into a structurally experimental direction.  Modern worship has stretched the boundaries of “traditional” contemporary songwriting forms.  They’ve creatively mutated the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus structure and added more layers.  Sometimes those layers are in the form of pre-choruses, and at other times, they are manifested in “surprise” fourth and fifth sections, elevating the middle or the end of a song to a different plane.  The songwriting goal of Without Our Aid, for many of the songs, is to see if traditional, through-composed hymnody can fit (and fit well) into some of these more progressive forms and expressions.  All the songwriting for Without Our Aid began with this vision in mind, so, compared to the more piecemeal feel of The Glad Sound, this album will have more cohesion in its style and direction.  I had wished to do more collaboration in songwriting on this album, but I haven’t found many attempting to take hymns in some of the directions I had taken them on this project, so collaborative efforts proved a bit more challenging this time around.  There will be other projects, though, and I know my material will be better when I am honing melody, harmony, and structure alongside the other great songwriters across the country I now know, love, and appreciate.


The album’s title comes from the second verse of “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”:

Know that the LORD is God indeed,
Without our aid He did us make.

The phrase is less of a unifying theme for all the songs and more of a statement of how we view our posture and the posture of these hymns in relation to God—subservient, humble, self-effacing, God-exalting.  God has been forming and shaping the music on this album…and He has been doing it “without our aid.”  Still, the phrase is very much a part of what is the unifying theme of the album—the gospel.  From top to bottom, the hymns selected for Without Our Aid drip with the good news of Christ Jesus as our all in all: good news that though we are poor and needy, Christ is rich in grace; good news that though this life is hard, we await a greater glory and peace; good news that salvation has come for sinners like you and like me; good news that our hearts find more rest and more peace the more we are captivated by the splendor and glory of God through Jesus Christ.  The track listing below helps visualize the gospel-unification of Without Our Aid.


Sola – a short entrance/processional song centered on the five "solas" of the Reformation, asking Christ to be our worship leader.

All People That on Earth Do Dwell – an energetic setting of Psalm 100, one of the first Protestant hymns penned originally in the English language.

Angels from the Realms of Glory – a raucous advent hymn, heralding the good news of Christ’s first and second comings.

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory – a haunting setting of a great eschatological hymn about Christ’s return in power and glory…good news that is sobering.

Be All the Glory Thine – a “call to worship” hymn (Joseph Hart’s “Once More We Come Before Our God”) that summons our sluggish souls to joyfully take up the “duty” of gospel-response in worship.

Firm and Unmoved Are They – a setting of Psalm 125 which offers comfort in God’s steady peace and hope…Christ is not explicit, but He is everywhere implicit in this psalm.

Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus – angsty verses and soaring choruses, with an additional bridge quoting straight from the book of Revelation: “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever.”

Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness – a slightly disco-funk-style fight-song (it sounds weird, but it's fast becoming a "cult favorite" among those involved in making this album), full of the victory and joy of the cross and Christ’s meritorious righteousness.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today – a reverential beginning, and a pounding bridge and chorus…very different from the traditional through-and-through triumphant setting of this well-known Easter/resurrection hymn.

Lord, I Believe – a sincere and heart-wrenching Communion hymn.  My favorite line, perhaps on the whole album, is: “I eat the bread and drink the wine / but O, my soul wants more than sign / I faint unless I feed on Thee / and drink the blood as shed for me.”

How Firm a Foundation – An alternate setting of a great hymn, with an additional bridge and chorus that more explicitly tie it to Psalm 46.

O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright – The oldest hymn on the album (ca. 4th century), with the Gloria Patri as the chorus.  A climactic album ending with low lows and high highs.


Produced by Zac Hicks
Engineered by Michael Brumley & Zac Hicks
Edited, Mixed, & Mastered by Josh Davis
Art & Design by Dave Farmer at Element 24


Important Large Church Makes a Bold Move to Unify Worship Services

Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor of well-known Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, gave reasoning on his blog behind the bold move toward unifying the worship at their church.  Coral Ridge will not be having services of different styles of music/liturgy/worship.  They will all be the same.  I applaud this effort wholeheartedly.  I think his reasons are sound and Gospel-driven.  They are a challenge to churches like mine that continue with services characterized by two different worship styles.  I can't imagine that the worship of eternity will be marked by services of different styles...that's unrealized eschatology.

Unified worship is a step toward Gospel-centered maturity, and perhaps Coral Ridge is ready and ripe for this.  I, for one, know that at the point when my church added a “contemporary” service (relatively late in the early 2000s), the thought of uniform, unified, "blended" worship would have driven a knife into the heart of our community.  The only way to move forward without totally killing the church was to do what we did.  The question still remains: Should we have done it?

Here’s a case of a stark difference between doing what is ideal (which Tullian argued well for) and doing what is wise.  Perhaps, for Coral Ridge, the former and the latter had arrived at a point of convergence.  For Cherry Creek in Denver, choosing the ideal would have been very unwise, as it would have been our demise.

I know that Coral Ridge went through a lot of wrestling to come to this conclusion.  However, as persuasively as Tullian argues, I still think there’s room for differing approaches.  One can be Gospel-centered and Gospel-driven with the split-service approach.  Perhaps, though, the stakes are higher, and a church needs to work a bit more intentionally to remain unified.  I attempt to argue along these lines in my essay, “Two Services: Why?

If I'm honest, though, our split-service model is a burr under my saddle that has never quite stopped itching.  Bravo, Coral Ridge.  May God grant you success in your new step of faith.


Great New (Old) Worship Songs for Advent and Christmas

(Updated December 2011)

For this Christmas season, or if you’re thinking ahead to the next, here are some modern worship style Christmas songs.  They’re great historic hymns that we’ve set to new music which carry Advent/Christmas themes.  They aren’t “updated” standard Christmas carols.  They’re old hymns that modern worship has all but forgotten.  But they’re worth reviving, and here they are: 


All Ye Gentile Lands Awake

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A mid-tempo, indie-style song, with themes of light and confession.  For liturgo-philes, it’s technically a song for Epiphany, but works very well for Christmas.


Angels From the Realms of Glory

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An up-tempo, drum-heavy number that works well as an opening song.  It’s refrain invites people to “Come and worship.”


Hark the Glad Sound

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A driving 4/4 song that works great with dotted-eighth delayed electrics and powerful drums.  Its chorus encourages us to shove the idols off the thrones of our hearts so that Jesus can come and reign.


Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending

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A foreboding, mid-tempo, Coldplay-style Advent hymn that speaks about Christ coming in power, glory, and judgment.  This song isn’t for sissies.  It’s a fan-favorite from our first album, The Glad Sound.


O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright

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A mid-tempo song that builds from soft to loud, filled with themes of light and God’s glory.  One of the oldest Christian hymns we still have (4th century!).


Psalm 76 (God is Known Among His People)

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An upbeat, funky, even gospel-style number that rejoices in the power of God, trampling over His enemies.  The bridge walks through Isaiah’s titles for Christ (“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”).


The Word of Life (In a Byre Near Bethlehem)

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An Irish pub-style number that walks through the story of Christ’s life, from birth to resurrection.  It’s got an earthy chorus and a singable melody that everyone loves.  Everyone.


There is Room

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A slow, graceful piano-led ballad that, in recounting the story of Jesus coming to earth, asks Jesus to come to our hearts.  Very melodic, and perfect for an offering.