What’s behind an anointed album 13 years in the making?
On the human side of the production, it’s a team of volunteers and staff within Grace Assembly of God (GAOG)’s church community. On the divine side of things, Eyes to See is about “a message from God to His people”.
How did God inspire them and see them through this journey? What’s on the team’s heart for those who listen to album? We spoke to NXTGEN Worship‘s CALEB NG and YUMIN OOI for answers to questions like these.
How did God inspire you to come up with Eyes To See?
YUMIN: I think it has been a dream for many of us to write new songs for our church, especially for our NXTGEN youth and young adult community, as new songs have the power to bring fresh and prophetic revelations that can serve to edify and empower.
When a group of us found out that this was actually a desire brewing in quite a number of us in the NXTGEN community, and that God had also raised people with gifts and talents among us, we were stoked to know that an album project like this was actually possible.
CALEB: When the idea of producing the NXTGEN album came around at the start of 2022, I was praying for a direction and that the album would not just be a music album but a message from God to His people.
As I was in prayer, the Lord dropped the passage of Matthew 13:44-46 into my heart – that’s the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl.
While there was the man who had claimed the treasure hidden in the field, the Lord reminded me of the many others who might have just walked past the field.
He revealed to me that for His people to want Him above everything else, they must first come to a place of beholding Him above everything else.
Thus, the heart behind the album is for the listener’s eyes to be open to behold the Lord as the ultimate prize.
YUMIN: Early on, while talking about the vision of the album, the word that was placed heavily on our hearts was “behold”.
Echoing the longing of David in Psalm 27, it was a prophetic cry for our congregation to return to gazing at the beauty of the Lord, and to be transformed by His beauty.
Humans behold all manner of beautiful things in life. But God is the most beautiful person we could behold; His is perfect beauty.
If God isn’t the chief thing we are beholding, the question we should ask ourselves is “Have we seen God rightly?”
And so, the heart of the album became one that was really quite simple: to write songs that would return the Bride to beholding God rightly.
How have you seen God’s hand through the entire process?
CALEB: One instance was during our songwriting retreat: we were worshipping and praying before crafting any song or melody. And the presence of God was so strong, showing us what to write and sing. It was amazing.
YUMIN: On day one of our songwriting retreat, the first thing we did was to worship and really seek God’s heart for His people and the album.
His presence was so strong, you could feel it like gravity. It was a privilege to hear first-hand the messages on God’s heart, and to be able to pen them down in lyrics and melodies.
I remembered whispering under my breath in awe and reverence: “Wow, He is here.”
Another instance was during one of our song workshops (a process where we come together as a band and figure out the song arrangement) when we were running through one of the songs.
Right then, I just felt His presence so strongly. I remembered whispering under my breath in awe and reverence: “Wow, He is here.”
What were some obstacles the team faced during recording? How did God bring you through?
CALEB: Given that this album is a first for many of us, we definitely did not expect the scale of putting an album together and launching it.
Songwriting, budgeting, publicity, stage design, videography… everything was done by our NXTGEN team that comprised our three staff members and our regular volunteer teams.
As we were not prepared for the scale, there were times when we felt like we were scrambling to get things done – perhaps because we had made a mistake or we had left something out.
Yet each time our decision-making was delayed, or when we were disheartened by a certain outcome in the process, God provided us with faith and creativity to adjust our plans.
In hindsight, those new God-given outcomes reflected the heartbeat of the album much more strongly.
YUMIN: Of course, the devil always wants to get involved with big faith moments like these.
The starting process of this album was not as smooth as we envisioned. Since it’s the first time any of us have done this, at times we really thought this album was not going to make it (even after writing the songs) and that created quite a bit of fear and doubt amongst us.
But we surrendered the whole process to God and trusted that if He wanted this to happen, He would make it happen. Sure enough, after months of uncertainty and scrambling, there came a week when everything that was shaky suddenly concretised.
We knew that this must be and can only be God!
What’s one song in the album that holds special significance for you?
CALEB: One song in the album that holds special significance for me would be “I Come Alive”.
It was actually the first song that we worked on. My fellow songwriter Joel came into the songwriting retreat with the chorus and the bridge already done, and we finished the song within the day.
However, the song didn’t have a “hook” (lyrics or a melody that makes a song memorable). When we compared it to other songs, it was honestly not the best.
But amazingly, on the day we were going to workshop the song, God gave us this anthemic hook. Within 10 minutes, He gave me the entire song structure – I was really amazed!
YUMIN: For me, “Eyes To See” probably holds that special place. It was the very first song I co-wrote with our fellow songwriter Caleb Kay on the first day of our songwriting retreat.
We started by sharing what God had been speaking to us, and we soon came into alignment on this heart’s cry of returning to seeing and knowing God rightly.
The song was based on the rebuke towards those who “have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear” (Isaiah 6:10, Matthew 13:15).
I remember when the line in the chorus first came to me, “Give us eyes to see and hearts to know your glory”.
It was as if a deep longing in my heart took form and cried out in lyrics.
In that moment, I just felt so privileged to be a vessel for the language God was going to give His people.
The Holy Spirit then proceeded to give us the rest of the song, and we were just so thankful and amazed at what the Lord had downloaded to us.
What’s your heart for listeners of this new album?
CALEB: My heart for the listeners of this album is that they would come to a place where they can truly say that they prize God above everything else.
I pray that it will either start or reignite the journey of knowing God fully and being known by Him.
YUMIN: Echoing the lyrics of “Eyes To See”, my heart is for listeners of this album to return to the privilege of beholding God truly and rightly.
Only then, would we be able to gaze upon a beauty that is perfection itself.
Acknowledging that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has sealed the indwelling of the Spirit means we do have eyes to see, and we do have hearts to know His glory. So let us not pass a moment without Him.
Grace Assembly of God’s youth worship team, NXTGEN Worship, launched Eyes to See on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music on 23 November. Have a listen and let them know what you think!
- Behold God. What does that mean to you?
- What does beholding God look like in your life?
- How can you use your gifts and talents to edify your church community?