The Story of "A Beautiful Exchange"

Featuring Hillsong Worship Posted on June 30, 2010

In the collective expression of a unified church, as the people worship their magnificent Savior, a beautiful exchange happens: the exchange of the cross for sins, the exchange of His life for our freedom. This beautiful exchange is the gospel of Christ and it happens in churches and street corners around the globe. It is the message that lies at the center of Hillsong Church, and it is the meaning behind the new Hillsong LIVE project, A Beautiful Exchange.

The 20th Hillsong LIVE recording, A Beautiful Exchange, captures again the heart and soul of what God is doing locally in the Sydney, Australia church. Hillsong worship leaders Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Darlene Zschech, Jad Gillies and Ben Fielding, among others, came together with the entire church congregation through the expression of worship to celebrate and seek God.

Remembering the night of the recording of A Beautiful Exchange, Hillsong LIVE Music Director Autumn Hardman says, “The church didn’t want to stop singing, everyone was worshipping with all their hearts. Every song carried a sense of freshness right from the start. Even in the studio sessions weeks out, we could feel the excitement about this year’s recording. Everyone brought their ideas, keyboard sounds, guitar lines, drum grooves, and stayed late into the night many nights working out the songs and arrangements.”

While A Beautiful Exchange shows only a glimpse of a church in Sydney experiencing God’s presence, it is also meant to be an experience shared with others. “This night was about worship, prayer, justice, hope, God’s goodness and faithfulness,” says worship leader Annie Garratt, “but these songs are not just for us and our church. They are for the people of the church on the earth. The truth and power of the songs are the same for me in Sydney as they are for anyone else in the world.”

The 12 new songs of A Beautiful Exchange create a journey that awaken the listener to God’s love and generate awe for an infinite and yet intensely intimate God. The album explores themes of sacrifice and redemption in the title track, extraordinary love in “Our God Is Love,” and features songs of hope, reconciliation and praise.

The debut radio single “Forever Reign” is a collaboration of Reuben Morgan and Jason Ingram. “When we sat down, Jason had a prayer in the verse: You are good, you are good, when there’s nothing good in me. As he sang that, I thought, ‘That is so what I want to sing.’ I love that confession,” says Morgan. “The thought I love is that no matter what, when I feel there is nothing good me, when there is no joy or peace in me, He is joy and He is peace. It’s been amazing to hear the church singing that and humbling to see how the church as taken hold of it.”

An invitation to surrender and receive from God, “The One Who Saves” speaks about a love that endures and a love that saves. “This song is about our salvation, but more specifically it is about the character of our God,” says worship leader and songwriter Ben Fielding. “The Psalms call the love of God enduring. He is relentless and keeps coming after us. I love the thought that God wants us to be with Him in his presence. There is no striving to connect with God, no striving for our salvation. It’s a gift.”

An overwhelming sense of gratefulness leads to the recording’s benediction in “Thank You.” “The verse says, Thank you for your kindness / Thank you for your mercy and more. I love that expression of gratefulness. Here we see that God stands alone, and in that realization you just want to thank Him,” says Fielding, “and I love the thought of closing this with the benediction that I so often heard in church growing up: Let Your face shine on us.”

Just after the June 29 release of A Beautiful Exchange, through a new alliance with EMI CMG Label Group, Hillsong LIVE will embark on its U.S. tour led for the first time by Reuben Morgan.  The Hillsong LIVE team will visit church venues in cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta and Tulsa in July and August, and will also appear at the music festival Creation West in Washington.

“The hope of the Hillsong LIVE summer tour is to bring our Hillsong Australia worship service to our friends in the US,” says Morgan.  “These meetings are charged with the presence of God, and are moments where our lives are often radically impacted by a real and present God.  We have seen some amazing things as God continues to speak His life into these gatherings – can't wait to see what God has for July and August in the USA.”

The songs of A Beautiful Exchange are the songs from the Hillsong worship community around the world that have resonated with the church throughout the year. “This is Hillsong Church coming together from all over Sydney to celebrate, to pray, to seek God,” says Reuben Morgan. “We just press record. This is not about an album. This is really about a church, a family truly seeking God together…A Beautiful Exchange is a picture of that.”