David Lyle Morris’s newest album, released on March 12, is pregnant with promise.
He’s written the 14 tracker to encourage the listener to promise to spend more devotional time with God, and filled it with music with is overflowing with God’s promises of grace and love.
Morris, who has spent three years on this project, recently told Challenge Weekly the album had “a very intimate acoustic guitar emphasis; it is more like having me in your lounge, this kind of intimacy rather than the big live worship which some of my other albums have”. Such intimacy, it seems, was discovered by the likes of legendary blues musician Eric Clapton more than a decade ago when he recorded his Unplugged album and sparked a whole series of albums by artists abandoning the big band sound for the acoustic guitar.
Morris, in taking such an approach and adding just a few other instruments to the mix, has come up with a very gentle album which had me turning the volume up so as not to miss any nuance as I listened while I drove.
Of the 14 songs The Stolen Years, inspired by Joel 2, resonated with me the most because it offered such hope. Then, I discovered a hand written note from Morris on the envelope in which the CD had arrived. “Track 3, Stolen Years, a good one for Christchurch – God can restore!” It included God saying, in its chorus: “I will repay the stolen years, soothing balm for all your fears/Wipe away every tear/I will restore the wasted years, sweetest music to your ears/Through the gloom, light appears”. And one of the choruses includes the wonderful guarantee: “Everyone, call on the name of the Lord and be saved”.
The first track, Glory to the God of Grace and Truth, introduces the listener to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is followed by Be Exalted, Father, in which Morris adapts lyrics from an A.W. Tozer poem to praise the trinity. You Are Good Lord follows The Stolen Years and compares Christians to “trees planted by the water” in a time of drought.
If you thought George Matheson’s hymn O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, written in 1882, was moving try Morris’ adaptation. Matheson said of the hymn: “It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.” Morris’s version is quietly contemplative.
O Lord You Are Our God is a reflection on Isaiah 25, Embracing on Joshua 22. Dancing In Heaven was written for the funeral of Jane Peters, a family friend who had multiple sclerosis. Good Shepherd puts to music Jesus’s promise to lay his life down for his sheep. For Such A Time As This reflects on Morris’s time of ministry in Finland.
Change Me was written for Morris’s baptism, in England, in 1986. Your Kindness Calls Us To Repentance speaks for itself, as does Harvest Fields of Finland where Morris obviously had so many God times. Holy Spirit of God, which closes this album, is a benediction of types as it asks “Holy Spirit of God, fall upon us”.
This is, indeed, a beautiful album.
***** Reviewed by Chris Gardner – Challenge Weekly NZ March 2011
David Lyle Morris talks to Challenge Weekly reporter Michael Hamilton about his new release ‘Devotion’.
Prolific and popular New Zealand singer/songwriter David Lyle Morris has completed his 13th album. I caught up with Morris at his house recently to chat about his new album Devotion and his plans for this year. You wonder how Morris finds the time to make an album. He is active in ministry and manages to pop up at events around the country, the most recent being Parachute Music festival in January and last week’s the New Zealand Christian Leaders’ Congress, where he led worship.
He was enthusiastic about Parachute and said it was great to see worship artist Chris Tomlin and preacher Louie Giglio ministering at the event. “They have had had a positive influence on music and the youth scene in the United States in recent years,” he pointed out.
Morris also recently did some ministry in Finland, and he now plans to go to several cities where Rugby World Cup match events will be held, to hold concerts. He takes any opportunity he can to minister in churches around the country.
Devotion was three years in the making and, says its creator, has “a very intimate acoustic guitar emphasis; it is more like having me in your lounge, this kind of intimacy rather than the big live worship which some of my other albums have. “The emphasis is on Scriptures that have helped me, my wife and some friends, in issues we have been through. This includes grief over marriages, death of peers, family issues — and the whole economic recession which we have been going through,” explains Morris. The music on the album, he adds, would work “really well in a devotional”. “It is good for listening to during a person’s devotions or quiet times. It is intended for all Christians, but I believe God will minister through the music and lyrics to people facing hard times”. “Maybe we are being thrown on God in a new way. It is a time to trust God. We have to turn to God. God can renew, restore, refresh in miraculous ways. There is hope and we can trust in God.
“The deliberate intention was to identify with people’s pain in the songs so that they can find release from what they are feeling, and more importantly in the spiritual sense that the biblical lyrics should bring healing when people soak in them. The music is helpful, and has a Finnish string trio included”.
Morris said he felt that a key song was The Stolen Years, based on Joel 2, saying that God would restore “the years that the locusts have eaten”. The singer said the song had the sense that God wanted to restore people, that his heart was to replenish and restore people, so we could have hope even when all seemed lost.
The song Dancing In Heaven relates to a woman, Jane Peters, who was wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis. Jane, who was the wife of Auckland pastor David Peters, died in 2007. “Jane lived a beautiful life and I was asked to write a song for her funeral,” he explained.
You Are Good Lord is based on Jeremiah 17 and the promise of God that “we can continue to bear fruit even through dry times. As Christians we can have a greater hope than people who do not know Christ and who rely on material things”.
Be Exalted Father was inspired by a poem written by A W Tozer in his book The Pursuit Of God. “It speaks to our materialistic age, especially in these challenging times and is a prayer that we place God above possessions, friendships, ambition, family, health and even life itself. I read the poem and it totally blew me away,” added Morris.
DEVOTION ALBUM INTERVIEW CHALLENGE WEEKLY NZ 2011
Our new CD Devotion – an acoustic collection of new worship and ministry songs recorded in NZ and Finland, producer Evan Cooper
LAUNCH concert Sat 12 MARCH 7.30 pm at St Georges Church
19 Ranfurly Rd, Epsom, Auckland, NZ!
Free entry but please buy a CD
Please do come and pass the word on! All welcome
Here are some other points for your prayer please over the next 6 months
Thanks so much for all your friendship and support
Vision (the Evangelical Alliance in NZ) National Leaders Congress (3 yearly)
Wellington NZ, 21 to 24 Feb
David leads worship for the 3rd time with a local band from Meadows Church
200 Christian leaders attend from all spheres of society, church, para-church etc
April to June
Two church weekends in Katikati (16 and 17 April) and Whangarei (11 and 12 June) including team training seminars
August – Finland and Asia
David will be in Finland 10 to 22 Aug to follow up on the new Cds and possibly record another one, which I am collaborating on with the band there
Singapore stop wekend way back, 25 to 28 Aug
September – South island NZ Rugby World Cup tour with family
Invercargill, Dunedin, and Christchurch depending on the earthquake recovery
8 to 25 Sep
Arranging a main church to host us in each city
For possible outreach concerts, training and Sunday service ministry etc
Supporting the Scottish rugby team as we travel around!
Thrilled with how the new album is progressing, despite delays for health and August world tour!
The Finn band have added some superb strings and other tasty bits. Evan Cooper and I are heading for the mix in November. Will keep you posted on the release date in the New Year.
Here is the lyric of ‘Stolen Years’ from Joel 2 which has had strong reaction throughout NZ and Finland. Appreciate your prayers as we complete this special project.
On ya David
Return to me with all your heart, for I am gracious, compassionate
Slow to anger, abounding in love
Autumn rain, and in the spring, abundant showers, I will bring
Good grain, new wine, pure oil for your soul
I will repay the stolen years
Soothing balm for all your fears
Wipe away every tear
I will repay the stolen years
Sweetest of music to your ears
Through your gloom light appears
I pour out my Spirit while, your sons and daughters prophecy
Old men dream their dreams, young men see visions
I pour out my Spirit now, on men and women I will shower
Wonders in the heavens, and on earth
Everyone, call on the name of the Lord, and be saved (rpt twice)
By my mercy, I will do great things
Return to your stronghold, all you prisoners of hope (rpt twice)
Twice as much, will I restore to you
David Lyle Morris and David Peters
©2009 Tevita Music
Po Box 99655 Newmarket, Auckland 1149, NZ
World Tour Report
It was so good for us all, and especially Liz, to spend two weeks time with friends and family, after three years. We spent time sledding and enjoying a freezing night of Rangers football (6-1 win!).
We always feel so at home in ‘the province’, and we have been coming for 13 years since Euan was a baby! We had an amazing two weeks with our special friends the Rogers, and their family, church and businesses, as well as catching up with many other friends.
Liz preached powerfully two Sundays in a row – on hope, and then destiny (from Esther) and prayed over many, while David supported in worship and singing over people. David also sang and spoke at another church on the Sunday nights, where we were kindly accommodated in the church flat. He sang and spoke at the Coleraine House of prayer , where good friends Andy and Ian take a big lead, which was a really inspirational time.
This was a breakthrough time in Ireland for Liz in ministry terms, with a greater desire for us to minister together, which we touched on before the boys were born, but we have been waiting a long time for more opportunity. It is good our first invite back in NZ is to minister together at a church weekend away (Northcote Bap 13,14 March)
Finlay also contributed with songs and haka in church and school settings. Euan showed his gifting with younger kids wherever we went, and also his business mind, looking after CD sales.
We have again seen God’s amazing provision in so many ways throughout the tour. One example would be in health, where David had a heavy cold and sore sinus in Finland, but knew God’s supernatural strength for the recording and had no throat issues despite the freezing temperatures!
It has been brilliant to have the family here in the Snowy North, for the first time in 10 years (I have been back many times since, but alone). We have been ministering in the nation for 17 years, and have such a deep love for the snow lands and the people.
This time we had new hosts in Jarmo and family and we had a blast, with our four kids, though theirs being much older, getting on like a house on fire!
We focused on the live recording, with rehearsals prior to the Saturday night recording. This team of young Finns and I have worked together the past two August missions, and our friendships and ministry are growing deeper all the time.
We felt this would be a breakthrough experience for many of the young team in writing and ministry, as well as for us, as we have prayed for many years to be able to record with Max and in Finland itself.
The night was so special where we recorded in a beautiful old timber chapel, bathed in snow and candlelight.
Liz had a profound angelic experience when we sang our older song ‘Holy Spirit of God’ which the Finns had rearranged and translated. As Laura the lead singer called out in worship, Liz felt she was somehow calling down heaven, and the building and PA shook! We had to retake the song later for the album sake, but that moment was so releasing. We found out later that there is a strong tradition among the Sami people of Lapland of calling to the spirit-world in song, and somehow Liz felt that Max and I from the Pacific were meeting the Finns in a ‘Holy Spirit of Jesus heart cry’! God is so good.
Our brand new song written for the mission ‘The harvest fields of Finland’ took on a wonderful life of it’s own as we worked with it during the week, and it was presented with a fabulous powerpoint presentation of Finland’s natural beauty.
( I will send you some of these, and other band shots are attached)
The boys loved sledding and skating here too. The snow was as heavy as they have seen in Helsinki for decades, so we really felt we have been in winter wonderland.
David will return in August for the 3rd annual city mission and the launch of the album – see the songlist of our songs which made the cut below.
1. As long as I may live (I will only love my Lord) –“ Heavenly man “ song
2. Before our God (We in Christ are one) Galatians 3
3. Holy Spirit of God – in English and Finnish (see Chorus lyric below)
4. The harvest fields of Finland – lyric below
5. We live in the shelter (Psalm 91)
‘Jesus all for Jesus’ from N Ireland which they love.
The Finnish songs included two great new ones from young Finnish writers we know, some other powerful new Finn songs, and a translation of Kiwi Brooke Fraser’s ‘Hosanna’.
The church ministry was a blast, with the album team leading worship, but not least because Liz had the chance to pray and prophecy over many of the team after the service. She has been on a roll! This church provides most of the musicians to the team, and again I have been building a strong friendship over the past 3 years.
It was a blessing to minister with Max as always and great to see him and Jussi and their families rapidly growing up. We saw many other friends who have been so loving to us over the years. It is a second home in many ways.
The publisher ‘Paiva’ working with the production is going to distribute the ‘Trust’ CD for us as well, and publish some sheet music of our songs.
We sent some of you news from there. It is repeated below if you haven’t seen it.
Singapore feedback – sent before
Integrity Music were excellent hosts, and produced a great new compilation CD ‘Life Story’ for us. We will launch this in NZ Sat 20 March.
Our Saturday ministry included a deeply moving seminar in the morning with a group of Brethren Churches.
To show you how profound and contested this was – one of the female musicians we worked with was moved to tears as we ‘workshopped’ some songs. Then soon after she had her handbag stolen from within the sanctuary, including a large sum of cash and her identity card etc!
The Saturday night Christmas outreach concert was a very anointed time, and Finlay brought the house down with the two songs he sang with me! There weren’t as many seekers as the church had hoped for, but a number of young people were touched.
Sunday I contributed songs at two other services. The first was superb for new friendships that will bear fruit. The second was amazing as the band comprised some professional musicians from Colombia! They were so groovy to play with. The speaker was a legendary missionary for 32 years, including time with some of the most primitive tribes.
We were so inspired and challenged by his stories of prisons and prostitutes. In his local prison there are lifers who are pastors, with cell churches in the cells, and the community bring their sick to prison for the amazing believers there to pray for them! The stories roll on…
Monday I met an inspiring 37-year-old Pastor who helps to oversee 6000 churches in the region alone!
We had some lovely family time in the Zoo on ‘night safari’ and made some super new friendships. We were blown away by the Christmas lights on Orchard Rd and amazed at the heat!
Thanks so much for your prayers. Love to all and have a great 2K10.
David, Liz, Euan and Finlay