Music review by Luchae Williams
If you know worship music, you’ll be familiar with the name Darlene Zschech – the beloved Australian worship leader of longstanding Hillsong fame. Having recently won her battle with cancer, the Christian music veteran released her latest album, Here I Am / Send Me, in March 2017.
Best described as a “victory lap”, the offering played an integral role in Zschech’s recovery. She shared that the songs were birthed out of a deep place of trial, as she and her family held on to every promise of God. Every single track on the album is a proclamation that God is mighty and He is able to do the impossible. It is through and through a testimony of one who has stared death in the face and chosen to believe the word of God instead.
I loved that the CD booklet shares “behind the song” stories of each track. It gives you an insider view behind the writing and recording of the songs and shares the scriptures that moved her as she penned them. The deluxe edition also comes with a DVD of the album’s live recording.
Kicking off in typical Darlene-styled worship, is a track called You Are Great, which was co-written with Martin Smith. The opening, a string-bedecked composition, sets the atmosphere for a song that introduces us to what the album is all about: a declaration of the greatness of our God! On the album cover she shares: “…Together, slowly, we wrote this song. As I was very ill, he (Smith) simply asked me in his fine British accent: ‘Darls, what do you want to say?’ And all I could say is, ‘GOD IS GREAT!’ ”
The anthemic, You Will Be Praised, is next on the track list. It is a catchy, mid-tempo number that speaks about praising the Lord even when we are weary and ready to give up. This song perfectly describes the singer’s journey during her illness. From start to finish, the song gave me goosebumps especially when Zschech goes off into free worship declaring the faithfulness of God.
Worship song, Daylight, was co-written with Beth Gleeson, who is also featured on the recording of the song. Gleeson’s sweet vocal is reminiscent of songbird Kari Jobe and I found this duet to be powerful and moving. I was especially taken by the bridge that declares: “You won’t let go/You won’t give in/You surround me with Your love!”
One of my favorite tracks on the album is the vibey First Love, co-written by two worship leaders at Zschech and husband Mark’s home church, Hope UC. The track is a praise party and speaks about the love of God and the victory and belonging that we have in it.
I was also moved by Love and Wonder – an interlude of sorts co-written by another Hope UC worship leader, Bonnie Gray and Zschech’s youngest daughter, Zoe. The track only has three sentences but holds a sweet authority as Gray sings: “You calmed the ocean/You who guide my footsteps/You call me close into Your love and wonder.”
Other worship tracks, such as the mellow Your Eyes, co-led with Brad Carroll and the piano driven Emmanuel are fitting additions to this profound album. But I especially love the title track, Here I Am Send Me – a song that was based on the story of Abraham in Genesis 22. On the DVD Darlene explains that in Hebrew, when Abraham said yes to the call of God, his response wasn’t an answer to a question but rather a resounding “yes!” before the Lord even asked him. What a powerful revelation!
Zschech has once again proven to us that her heart’s song is one of a “Yes, Lord!” regardless of what He asks. Her authenticity and passion to see more of His presence on earth is even more evident today, after overcoming her battle with illness, than ever before. Those who are familiar with her worship will appreciate this offering. If you’re a Zschech newbie I recommend that you give this one a listen. You will quickly grow fond of this singer and her style of worship.