Writing a Worship Album: Roby Curtis

Ignite Conference starts tommorrow! Not only do we get to experience a whole bunch of new songs from emmanuelworship, but their new album 'Mercy' finally goes on sale at Conference. emmanuelworship leads us in worship at all of Ignite Youth’s events and as the album’s release approaches we’ve been speaking with the principal songwriters for the album about the process of writing and recording a Catholic worship album.

purchase 'Mercy' now

Roby Curtis

Roby's contribution to the songwriting, vision and mission of emmanuelworship is foundational to what it is today. Contributing an exhaustive list of songs written for emmanuelworship over the years, 'Mercy' continues to show this with Roby's songwriting impact on the album . Roby, along with Laurent, have been at the very centre of the journey of this album and we were blessed to talk with him about its production, songwriting and vision for its impact.


What do you feel emmanuelworship has done differently in the album ‘Mercy’?

The whole process around songwriting has been different from the beginning. We haven’t pulled together songs from across our ministry and just called it an album. Together as songwriters we wrote with intention and an end goal in mind. We had an arms out vision, which for this album was Mercy in the form of Catholic Worship. This approach changed everything from melodic structures to lyrics, time signatures and arrangements - the whole lot. We’ve made an intentional step toward a more foundational level of songwriting.

It was great to spend time as a core album team in a pre-studio setting where we spent time crafting these songs in a way that captured a particular sound for the album. We wanted to give these songs a common thread throughout the 10 tracks so that when you listen to a female vocal or a male, it has a sound that is particular to emmanuelworship. It feels like the beginning of a new era in the creativity, vision and mission of emmanuelworship. 


What do you hope to be the impact of the album?

I think our strategy is a visionary one, that we can engage a wider audience than we currently do - a more mature audience. That we may be able to arm the Church creatively with this concept of mercy. I hope to inspire communities, parish and diocesan music coordinators and worship leaders across the nation and the world to raise the standard of contemporary music within liturgy and worship and within their faith communities. That they might also step out creatively and do something bold such as write some original music or aid their parish or faith community with high quality music. 


What does the Church gain from this album?

The truth about contemporary culture, whether we like it or not, is that every culture and every time has its genius - it has its code and its way of behaving. Creatively it has a sound and mood that young people, including us as members of the ministry feel connected to and in tune with. What the Church benefits from this album is that we’ve captured the sacred lyrically and melodically in what is a work of the New Evangelisation. A work not afraid to capture elements of that cultural genius of 2016 with songs like Body of Christ as an entrance song to Mass, or Psalm 57 -  a beautiful song to be used in both liturgy and worship. ‘Mercy’ is arming the Church to engage the hearts of non-believers through the sound of music today - but also the sound of the authentic worship of our ministry, community and the universal Church.

A particular song that we believe will play a part in arming the Church is ‘Your Name is Mercy’. This is a song that has come from the heart of Pope Francis writings, from Pray for Me, to Joy of the Gospel to The Name of our God is Mercy. It was exciting to be a part of that process with debut songwriter for emmanuelworship Liam Desic. During a songwriting workshop we had this sense of marrying these two refrains about the mercy of God in our lives with this prophetic bridge where we said everything we ever wanted to say out of what Pope Francis is writing and what we’ve received through his universal message. It is really our response to the prophetic call to mercy from the Holy Father and from Christ. This call goes right back to Zacchaeus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the blind man, to Lazarus - right back to the Gospel itself. We tried to capture a personal encounter with those foundational stories and truths around Christ through the Holy Spirits call to mercy. Writing this song has been such a powerful journey and it’s especially exciting to debut it live at Ignite Conference.

Whats exciting you about Ignite Conference coming up?

Ignite Conference is an absolute privilege, sometimes I have to remind myself of how much of a blessing it is for us. I was at the very first Conference in 2001 as a young man unsure in many ways about life and my direction. I was involved within the secular music scene playing local venues, so to come from that in 2001 to today so close to Conference - knowing how many lives like mine have been changed by God working through this conference is pretty incredible.

As emmanuelworship its great that we’ve been able to preserve the songs of the album in a particular way to be launched at Conference. It’s an idea that I’ve been excited about for years, that we could arm the Conference each year with a new and fresh sound in line with our vision. So that when we get to the Conference there is an anticipation around these songs that capture the theme for the year, capture universal concepts of whats happening within the wider church and always steering people toward mission.

emmanuelworship's new album will be released at Ignite Conference '16 Revelation and is now available to order off their website.