Audrey Assad is a worship leader and musician who writes, in her own words, “soundtracks for prayer.” She has penned her contemplative songs of worship with (and for) Matt Maher, Christy Nockels, Brett Younker, Sarah Hart, Meredith Andrews, and others—Audrey’s passion is to write fragrant, prayerful music that truly leads to encountering Jesus Christ, even in the silence of the heart.
Inheritance, slated to release in early 2016, is a collection of hymns and original praise & worship songs that pays homage not only to her Plymouth Brethren childhood heritage, but also to her Catholic faith and charismatic spirituality. “I grew up in a church where we didn’t use any instruments on Sunday mornings,” Assad notes. “I learned to sing there, from the old hymnbooks, in four part harmony, with my family and my neighbors. It was multi-generational, it was deep and rich and beautiful, and like most of my favorite worship music, it was steeped in community.” The record blends these influences and infuses them with a truly modern sensibility—Inheritance is Audrey’s best effort at honoring her roots and, inspired by them, crafting something fresh, fragrant, and new.
Assad began to compose Even Unto Death (co-written with Maher) after hearing yet another story of martyrs in today’s Middle East. “I thought of the many martyrs around the world, but especially those in the Middle East, and wondered to myself what would be running through my head if I knew my life was about to be taken because of my faith,” Audrey explains. “And so I began to write the song that became Even Unto Death, praying for the martyrs and hoping for even a shred of their courage. That’s something I would want to sing about on Sundays.” “Lover of my soul even unto death, with my every breath I will love you,” is a chorus both fragile and confident—two words that happen to aptly describe Assad’s personal faith.
At several moments during the course of Inheritance, Assad delves deeper into that very fragility, intoning lines like “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet” with a mixture of boldness and Christianity’s proverbial ‘fear and trembling.’ The song, arranged by composer Gavin Bryars, was sung originally by an unnamed homeless man recorded on the streets of Britain by Bryars—and it is one example of Audrey’s willingness to express prayer through themes that don’t always appear on modern worship records. Assad’s version of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet is haunting, almost desperate—violins and cellos creak and crackle over a wild, restless soundscape rumbling ominously beneath them. The influence of the album’s co-producer, Daniel James (Canon Blue, Joy Williams, Among Savages) is palpable here. It reveals itself noticeably, too, in the record’s cinematic take on Heber/Dykes’ Holy, Holy, Holy, which begins in a whisper and ends in a burst of organs and vocals joining together in one triumphal flare of joy.
Audrey sums it up this way: “I knew that Inheritance had to be much more than me going into the studio and simply doing pretty renditions of hymns we all know and love. I couldn’t be satisfied with that—I had to make something both bright and dark—colored honestly with my own doubts and weaknesses, so that the Lord who inspired these songs could be even more visible in it. Inheritance is an offering I am humbled, privileged, and challenged to make—and I pray it will be a gift to anyone who hears it.”