When you’re raised in a Christian family, there’s always that integral moment when your faith eventually becomes your own. For California native Phil Wickham, that moment inevitably shaped his future as a worship leader when he was only 12 years old.
His latest song, "This Is Amazing Grace," off his new album The Ascension (September 24, 2013) is a song about the never ending grace and love of our Creator."This song, it's about this amazing Grace, this unfailing love, that is God. What he can speak into existence, how he brings our chaos back into order, how he took our place on this cross so that we might be set free and forgiven. It's a story that God has written and let us all be apart of."
The Ascension was inspired by "Songs of Ascent" passages in the book of Psalms. These songs were sung by the Jews when they would ‘ascend’ to the Holy Temple. The singer puts a modern spin on the melodic hymns that speak of God's remarkable grace and unfailing love.
“God no longer dwells in the city or in the temple. But the Church has become the city. The Church has become his temple," Phil explains. "Every time we get together as a body—whether it’s a home fellowship or in a mega-church—his temple is gathering together. He’s living inside of us, creating a special moment that’s been ordained. I wanted to write modern Songs of Ascent.”
Phil first started leading praise services at his local youth group, his parents (both members of bands in the Jesus Movement era) encouraged him not only to learn popular worship songs, but to write his own—a challenge he relished.
These early days of writing congregationally friendly songs paved the way for his future as a full-time musician. Drawing from a wide range of influences including mainstream artists Rufus Wainright, Keane and Coldplay, Phil earned rave reviews for his unique voice and soaring, atmospheric arrangements that weren’t always commonplace in worship music.
His critically acclaimed 2007 album, Cannons, featured beloved and passionate songs "Divine Romance" and "After Your Heart." Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ book "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" from The Chronicles of Narnia series, Cannons was about how “the universe is exploding with the glory of God and how we as believers are compelled to join with its songs.”
Following Cannons, Phil partnered with Bart Millard of MercyMe in his 2009 single, "Safe," before releasing his next album, Singalong, a live praise project recorded at Solid Rock Church in Portland, Oregon. Available at no cost only through Phil’s professional website, the album was downloaded more than 8,000 times in the first week.
His song "At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)" has become a favorite of many, and is off Phil's worship album Response. The album is a symbol of our answer to God when He reveals Himself to humanity.
“When I see the different aspects of who God is in different situations of life,” describes Phil, “a little glimpse of His love in how my wife and I continue to grow in our love for each other, His goodness when I find out I have a baby daughter on the way, his grace and forgiveness when I mess up for the hundredth time – my response to that love can be seen as jumping for joy where other times I respond by saying, ‘You are Holy and I am not,’ humbled and falling on my face.”
Following the success of Singalong, the singer released Singalong2 (October 30, 2012) which was recorded live at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, CA, where Wickham first got his start. "The idea behind the Singalong records is to capture a moment in time where a group of people who believe in the same God come together to thank Him for what He has done and worship Him for who He is," he said. "Though bells and whistles can be fun to listen to, there are none on this record, just me, a guitar, and a chorus of saints a few thousand strong."
Lift My Life Up