Worship LeadersMy Blog
'Sometimes it seems as though all we can see is the ending. Tragedy hits and we wonder if there ever will be a way out of our low point. We cannot see the beginnings and middles that follow, and we are blind to our part in the greater story that Christ himself writes.'
Brenton Brown knows about low points. And tragedy. And endings that threaten to never relinquish their grip on life. He knows what it feels like to be crushed by sorrow and he knows what it feels like to wonder where God is to be found amid the tears and questions.
Brenton Brown is one of the most prolific songwriters of his generation. With five songs in the CCLI top 100 (including Lord Reign In Me, (Hosanna) Praise Is Rising, Your Love Is Amazing and Everlasting God), Brenton knows how to put the questions that we all ask into song. And he knows how to listen out for the answers, weaving the eternal truth and timeless elements of faith into songs of worship, praise and adoration.
Brenton's story starts thousands of miles away in Cape Town, South Africa. A scholarship brought him to the UK and in 1996 Brenton joined the Vineyard Church in Oxford as a worship leader. Working alongside close friend and fellow songwriter Brian Doerksen, Brenton co-penned 'Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing)' and appeared on numerous Vineyard worship albums.
While university had brought him to England, and worship had kept him there, a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome meant that Brenton and his wife Jude - who were both suffering from it - had no option other than to return home to live with Brenton's parents.
Out of the bleak despair came a glimmer of hope: Isaiah 40's words of how 'the LORD is the everlasting God. He will not grow tired or weary.'
There followed a slight improvement in their health, a move to Malibu, and a phenomenally productive period of song writing. 'Everlasting God' has become an anthem for those within the church desperate for something eternal to hold onto. Winner of many awards, including an ASCAP in recognition of the song's quality and popularity, 'Everlasting God' was co-written with YFriday's Ken Riley.
But the story does not end there.
A couple of years ago Jude was in the final month of her pregnancy with their much-anticipated child, Grace. Yet she died in the womb, and Jude was left to deliver her naturally. Speaking about with incredible honesty as well as a profound sense of God's healing in place, Brenton describes the experience:
'Our hearts were broken right at the start of what should have been a promising life. It was hard to imagine that there could ever be a happy ending. But we resolved to fall upon the Lord.'
Out of the tragedy came another song - not for the sake of a song though, but simply because worship is hardwired into people like Brenton and Jude. The lyrics of 'Adoration' are anchored in the deeply personal trauma of birth and death, yet remain universal and potent for all:
We choose to leave it all behind
and turn our eyes towards the prize
the upward call of God in Christ
you have our hearts, Lord take our lives
As Brenton says, 'this world on earth is not all that there is.' The eternal truth that God is with us now and forevermore recasts all our present trials and troubles. It has to.
And so it's a little weird to talk of Brenton's album 'Adoration' in terms of whether it is good or great. Better to ask these questions: Is it true? Does it reflect the struggles of life and the glories of heaven? Does it draw us closer to the mysterious, all consuming heart of God?
It's an answer you must discover for yourself.