YOUNG Catholic songwriters in Brisbane have blended sweet new melodies with ancient psalms to produce an album that just might shoot to the top of your driving playlist or prove popular at home or at prayer.
The Psalms Project is the work of Church agency Evangelisation Brisbane, that invited young songwriters to develop melodies to ten psalms and then produced these psalms with a full band with the help of a studio on the Sunshine Coast.
The result is a contemporary album, launched during an evening of prayer on the lawn outside St Patrick’s Church, Fortitude Valley on October 16.
With mid-tempo, reflective tracks, an up-tempo U2 guitar-styled number, even a chant – it’s an interesting collection that might challenge some traditionalists as an unfamiliar, even unwanted take on singing the psalms.
Others will find The Psalm Project accessible, uplifting and worth sharing.
Evangelisation Brisbane’s director Deacon Peter Pellicaan says the test for Church music is whether “it is authentic in its praise”.
“… the tradition of our Church, is that through the two thousand years there have been new songs written all the time, and new melodies to these same psalms,” Deacon Pellicaan told the Catholic Influencers podcast.
“Music has been the heart of the Church. The role of music in a Catholic context is to reveal the mystery of God and help people feel and experience the wonder of God’s presence in a way that music can do that no other art form can do.”
The Psalm Project brings together a new collective of songwriters into the Church space under the mentorship of Emma Fradd, 31, who has been writing music since high school, with her music having taken her around the world.
Now working for Evangelisation Brisbane, she reached out to songwriters across the Brisbane Archdiocese.
“The process was they came around to my house and I recorded the vocals and guitar or vocals and piano… and after that I sent it to Peter (Pellicaan) who is a very gifted musician and added a lot of other instruments – percussion, bass… after that we went and worked with a producer and produced together the finalised songs,” Ms Fradd told Catholic Influencers.
For young songwriter Georgina Devenish-Meares from Jubilee Parish, composing the melody for Psalm 42 (41) – ‘My Soul Longs For You’ (track #1) turned out to be a source of inspiration.
“The words of this psalm seem to be a necessary and constant prayer for me,” she said.
“Like a deer panting after water, there is a yearning to be closer to God and struggle to press on in joy when His presence feels far. Through it all, eyes to Him.”
For Maddie Luciani from the Emmanuel Community, writing the melody for Psalm 24 (23) – ‘To See Your Face’ (track #5) reminded her to seek God’s presence in all things and in all seasons.
“This is the spiritual journey we go on each and every day, searching for the one our souls long for,” she said.
“Through trials or joy, we are reminded in every season of life that we are not alone.
“Respond to the tug of your heart in each season, knowing God is with you as you pray in confidence, ‘Lord, this is the people who long to see your face’.”
The Psalm Project is the first in a new venture called Encounter Catholic Music that Emma Fradd hopes will encourage songwriters in the Church and inspire a rethink about how music is used as a part of worship.
“We always need fresh music and fresh ideas and my hope is that this project will inspire others to contribute,” she told Christian community radio station 96five in Brisbane.
“I don’t want young people to feel shut out (of the worship space) – it does sound a bit cliched but it does happen and I want to see young songwriters stepping up.
“It’s our hope that all music within the Church can be beautiful; when someone walks into a church, imagine if the first thing they said was that the music helped them to pray and took them on a journey beyond themselves.”
‘The Psalms Project’ is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music or can be purchased as a CD by visiting www.encountercatholicmusic.com
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