A singer/songwriter who began life as the child of military parents and had lived in three countries by the age of nine has continued his international wandering as a singer and teacher on worship.
David Lyle Morris released this his 12th album in 2010. Morris called his latest album Lifestory, because the songs recorded on it chart the journey of his life over the last 22 years, “through grief and to a new birth”. Tracks on the album were recorded with different backing bands and in different countries, so a range of musical styles is heard on the album.
Lifestory was produced with the help of Integrity Music in Singapore and, says the artist, “looks back at my life, ministry and my journey of discovery in music and worship”.
So what makes Morris tick? Well for one thing, he has a desire to see people have a more child-like faith. “In the West we can lose this; we have to worship with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. I plead with Western cultures, that people need a childlike abandonment, and a total trust of God as a loving father who doesn’t need to be continually questioned. Sometimes we over-analyse. ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’ — if we really know this as adults, especially in Western culture, we would have a lot less stress and be a lot more liberated,” says Morris.
“I find music a great language for undoing people, giving sheer exuberance and the trust that you see in children. So I pray that God will keep me young in spirit. We need to allow God to soften hearts, to not be cynical. We need to be like the kids whom Jesus took onto his lap. God wants us to allow him to hold us and carry us”.
Being part of renowned UK contemporary Christian worship leader/composer Graham Kendrick’s band and ministry for 13 years has a lot to say about Morris’s love of touring and leading worship. “Kendrick taught us theology and music on the road. We went to Nigeria, Russia, France, Czech Republic and many other countries. The band had people of different nationalities.”
The artist recently returned from releasing his album at the most significant Lutheran Church in Finland’s capital of Helsinki, The White Cathedral. This month he spent a week checking out Willow Creek Church in the United States.
Morris frequently travels to Finland, Ireland and Fiji. “I have ministered several times in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US. Certain countries hold a special place in my heart as it is a thing God does. God put Finland on my heart. I first went there in 1993; something happened…I had a good connection with the main Church in Finland, the Lutheran Church.” Morris says he goes there to, “Encourage new life in the more traditional churches; it is good having tradition and the more modern going hand-in-hand. It is great using ancient tunes, but having new lyrics and a modernised tune”.
Some of his songs have even been translated into Finnish and French, and are in the process of being translated into Chinese languages.
Morris loves teaching others in seminars about worship. “Worship is such a key in God’s Kingdom. I teach about worship and the importance of having passion in worship. We need to release passion in our worship, especially in our Western culture. We can be so inhibited. We need to be open and open to surprises, and to expressing emotion in worship — including pain, grief, suffering as well as victory and praise. I write in this area. My album Trust, released in 2007, is built around the theme of suffering and finding rest in God in our trials and battles. It is okay to express our pain in worship. God will lift our heads so we find his joy”.
Morris has another concern. “I have a plea to the older generation: to pray for, support and mentor the younger generation. I am saying this over and over again. We mustn’t disconnect with young people because we can’t understand their language or things in their world. Increasingly people need fathering and mentoring, in an increasingly fractured society.”
This busy musician certainly has no plans to slow down and has already started work on his next album, to be called Devotion.
He also hopes to add new countries such as South Korea to his well-worn itinerary and will be visiting a few Korean churches around Auckland this year.
LIFE STORY INTERVIEW CHALLENGE WEEKLY NZ 2010