Making Music with Michael W. Smith

From Friends Are Friends Forever to Go West Young Man, Michael W. Smith’s songs have become the cornerstone for Christian music.  He has sold 15 million albums, won a lifetime achievement award, 45 Dove Awards and 3 Grammys. Instead of taking a break, he recently released Hymns II a mixture of the classic hymns he grew up on and some worship songs that have impacted his life. Michael W. Smith shared with us what inspired the hymns chosen for Hymns II including which hymn has resonated with him the most. We also were inspired by his transparency about his faith journey including a near-death experience that led him back to Christ. Make sure to check out our upcoming issue, which includes the entire interview with Michael.

“…Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20

We asked Smith about what inspired his latest project, Hymns II and this is what he shared.

All those songs saved my faith. They were part of the fabric of my life growing up in that small church in West Virginia. They came back and said, “Hey would you consider doing Hymns II?” I said, “Yes.” And here we are. This one is a little different. On the first album, those were all songs I sang growing up in my church. On this one, half of them I did and then we decided to put some songs on there that inspired my life, some current worship songs that are really strong. I would call those modern hymns. So it’s more of a combination and the production is a little bit bigger on this one. I’m really happy with it.

“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
Psalm 28:6-7

With so many hymns, we asked Smith which one resonates the most with him. Here was his reasoning.

That’s a tough one. I would probably say “I Need Thee,” Every time I hear it, I get choked up. All my mechanisms inside of me get fired up and remind me I need Him more than ever in my entire life. As I get more mature in the faith and hopefully wiser, I just realize I need Him every hour. Not just every day, I need Him every hour. That’s what this song says. “I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee. Oh bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.” That’s the one I could sing every day for the rest of my life.

During our interview, Smith shared about how he strayed from his relationship with Christ and what eventually brought him back.

I almost died from an overdose. When that happened, I knew that if something didn’t change I was going to die. I knew that wasn’t my destiny. I began to pray as well. I felt like I was in a 20 foot tent and there was no ladder to get out. I just couldn’t get out. I just said, “Do whatever you have to do to get my attention. Break my legs. Car wreck. Just don’t kill me. Just get my attention. I need a rescue.” That’s when I lost my joy and became depressed. I have never been depressed. I have always been a real people person and alive. I knew that this depression and this funky thing I was feeling was God taking my joy away. Along with my parents praying, it all led up to that evening in 1979. I felt like I had a nervous breakdown is what happened. I never went to the doctor. But I do know that the God of the universe came and laid on that floor with me as I convulsed, cried and wept for three hours straight. I was all by myself. It was pretty supernatural.

Whether it is a classic hymn, contemporary praise, or Christian hip-hop, God uses music to draw us closer to Him. There is something to be said about the simplicity of the classic hymns. If you haven’t ever heard a hymn, check out Hymns II or another worship album and take time to praise and reflect on the words.

Risen Reflections

Take time and praise God! Whether it is listening to the new Hymns II, or your favorite praise album, listen to the words. Reflect and pray the lyrics back to God. Look up the verses that the songs are based on. Write a prayer or praise song back go God.

Make worship a part of your lifestyle. Worship isn’t just for Sunday at church. Try and incorporate it into your day. From your work commute to doing housework, listening to praise and worship music helps us to adjust our attitude to have the mind of Christ.

Has God given you musical talents? Use them to glorify Him. Volunteer and play with the worship band at church. You can even write your own song.

Are you or a friend struggling in your relationship with Christ? Ask God to restore your relationship, to show you His truth about the situation, and to send others to come alongside you. Similarly, if a friend is struggling, pray for them about how you can be an encouragement to their faith.

Pass the praise on! Share an encouraging song or CD with a friend. I am forever thankful to a woman at our church that gave me a bunch of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith tapes-yes, tapes, when I was young in my faith. It helped me to grow in my relationship with Christ as I said goodbye to the things of my past.

To read our entire interview with Michael W. Smith, pick up our summer issue! To check out Hymns II go to Cracker Barrel.

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