Phil Wickham graces Grace Baptist on Palm Sunday
Santa Clarita residents and TMU students worship with Phil Wickham
April 3, 2018
On Palm Sunday 2018, Grace Baptist held a concert for the community, to bring in some fun-filled family entertainment for the many people around the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding Los Angeles County region. Though the doors did not open until 5:30 p.m., people as early as 3 p.m. came to have their place in line for some nice front-view seating, despite the unexpected wind chill as the sun came down, but it paired well with a warm cup of coffee from their own Grace cafe.
The plethora of people patiently waiting in line seemed to have extended from the open patio to the parking lot, but once the doors opened, people found their seats through the rows of pews. As the audience saw the lights go dark, the show promptly started right at 6 p.m., and Phil Wickham and his bandmates wasted no time in giving a performance that could be better than life.
Singer and songwriter Phil Wickham, a San Diego, California native and gifted Christian music artist, has written many inspiring and poetic songs throughout the course of his music career. During my high school years I started to hear his name by peers who listened to his music as he was starting out. Though I had my teenage rebel heart to deal with, I really started to take his music and his words seriously during my time in community college. As I listened to his self-titled, majority acoustic album, released in 2006, I knew there was something inviting, unique and different about his music.
He is someone who loves his God, and wants to sing about it and tell the world of how we need Him, and how worthy He is to be praised. I’ve continued to listen to his albums such as “Cannons,” “Heaven & Earth” and “The Ascension,” to name a few. But I have never had the chance to hear him and his band perform in an full concert setting. So when I heard earlier this year that he was slated to perform, I was very excited to get to hear him live.
Darkness illuminated the sanctuary for a moment, but in the glimmer of the shadows, Phil Wickham ran to the center of the stage to meet his microphone. It was at this moment the lights shined luminously on the brightly lit stage, where Phil Wickham and his band, which included the drummer, who is also his brother-in-law, the electric guitarist, bass guitarist and pianist, were all dressed similarly and casually chill in black tees, tattered on-the-knees loose denim jeans, and comfortable chucks.
The band performed an hour-long worship set that lasted through 10 songs, opening with “Children of God” from Wickham’s recent album of the same name. This song is in reference to 1 John 3, and is an encouragement to those who put their hope in our Heavenly Father and his love for us. In true rock concert form, “Children of God,” as well as the majority of the songs performed were thrillingly loud to the point where you can feel the sounds of the electric bass truly beating on your chest. Many people in the audience, both young and old, if able, stood from their seats, sang along and clapped to the beat with the songs, singing “Lifting Your name, standing together as Children of God, forever we’re marching on…We are believers, all our hope in the Risen One.”
Wickham showcased his vocal range during an acoustic guitar rendition of his scenic “Heaven’s Song,” which describes his deep and restless desire to be drinking the sweet waters in the misty morning, and dancing on higher hills among the angels, in heaven with his God. Before he performed “Heaven’s Song,” he talked about the importance of the Hebrew word qavah, which translates biblically in English to hope, to wait in confident expectation in what God has promised for the future of those in the blessed gift of salvation.
Wickham performed the celestial inspired song “Messiah/You’re Beautiful,” off of one of my favorite albums, “Cannons.” It started very mellow, with the strum of his guitar, talking about the creation of God and His handiwork in it all. It picked up, with the help of the drumbeat and electric riffs, as he introduced Christ, who bled on the cross, and sitting on the heavenly throne of His Father, whom he and many will call Beautiful.
The song nicely transitioned to a beautiful rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” Wickham also sang one of his most popular hits, the very lively and encouraging “This Is Amazing Grace,” speaking of the love of God that is striking. The audience gave a huge roar when they heard the familiar layered synths tune start, and seeing the electric energy of Wickham and the band rocking out, you knew they absolutely loved what they do, and in giving worship and praise to their God.
The concert closed as Wickham acoustically sang, “We give You all the Glory” to the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and asked the audience to sing along, as he signed off and walked away from the stage.
During Passion week, and every day during the year, his music serves as a true reminder of Jesus’s purpose in us for our lives, and what he did on the cross for us, which was and is truly amazing grace unbound. I will forever be captivated by Wickham’s truth in his worship and his music, especially as I am continually inspired daily and energized by my own love of Christ, and to never forget his divine love and purpose for my life, and everyone on this earth.