MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, February 14th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Last month the music industry celebrated its biggest night: The GRAMMY Awards. WORLD Radio’s Myrna Brown talked to an award-winning singer/songwriter about his unlikely path to that stage.
SONG: HYMN OF SURRENDER
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Matt Redman was a teenager when he started writing songs.
REDMAN: I didn’t write them because I was making a CD. I didn’t write them because I wanted to lead them. I was writing these songs because I needed to.
The second of five children, Redman was born in a quaint little village, just a train’s ride from London.
REDMAN: I was 7 years old and came home from school one day and my mum and my grandparents were there and I could see they had some bad news. And I found out my dad had passed away. That he actually had taken his own life. So that was a lot to process at that moment.
Three years later, Redman attended an evangelistic crusade in London. It was his first time hearing the gospel.
REDMAN: You know I heard some things about God before and I know I’d prayed, but something about the way that he talked about the gospel, just connected with me. And so I became a Christian that night. 10 years old.
By that time, Redman’s mother had remarried. But the relationship became abusive. Redman says that season of his life solidified his relationship with Christ.
REDMAN: I think sometimes when you go through hardship or something painful or confusing, you choose two roads. One is the path of distrust and bitterness and walking away from God. But by the grace of God, I chose the other path.
While down that path of trusting God, he discovered songwriting. He says he found peace and joy in his lyrics and melodies.
REDMAN: I wasn’t thinking, Oh, I’m going to be a worship leader. I was just thinking this helps me so I’ve got to keep doing this. And then I realized after a while, you could actually help other people as well.
SONG: THE HEART OF WORSHIP
In 1999 Redman released a song that challenged perspectives on worship. He says the conversation began with his pastor in England.
REDMAN: He felt like we’d lost our way a little. Oh, I like this worship leader. I don’t like that one. I like this song. I don’t like that one. So, he told people the next few weeks at church, when you arrive, there’s not going to be a sound system or a band. It’s just going to be us with our hearts and our voices and our Bibles.
Out of that experience, Redman wrote the song, The Heart of Worship from his bedroom.
REDMAN: The song is literally saying what happened. When the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart…
The Heart Of Worship became an international anthem. Then in 2011 the husband and father of five co-wrote another song, this time from the pews of a little 100-year-old English chapel.
REDMAN: So, we’d had a long day of songwriting. It was 1:30 in the morning and I was desperate to go home. And he said, I’ve just got this one little melody thing I want to play you. And as soon as he said it, I was like, that’s bless the Lord. And I wasn’t even going to put it on the album because I didn’t think it was finished, which is quite hilarious.
In 2012, the song 10,000 Reasons won Redman two GRAMMY awards. But the 45-year-old California resident says his greatest joy comes from knowing how God still uses it.
REDMAN: There was this group of prisoners in Bali who were on death row from drug trafficking offenses that they committed nine years before. But since then, they had become Christians and by all accounts they were transforming the lives of other people there in the prison. But the authorities decided they still had to face the penalty. And as they were facing the firing squad, they were singing this song.
SONG: 10,000 REASONS
REDMAN: People call someone like me a worship leader from strumming a guitar and singing, but that’s really a worship leader, isn’t it?
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.