Listen: Jad, Taya and JD from Hillsong United catch up with Hope 103.2’s Emma Mullings
For the Hillsong United team, the song Prince of Peace has taken on a special meaning lately as they’ve toured their Empires album around the world.
Singer Jonathan ‘JD’ Douglass told Hope 103.2 that it’s one of his favourites, because each time he sings it, he watches people of all nationalities draw closer to God, and gain peace in the midst of their circumstances.
It’s become a healing balm for a world often in crisis.
“[We’re] in a world so gripped by fear at the moment, but the truth is perfect love casts out all fear, and that song talks about the power of the Prince of Peace,” JD said.
“We get to minister to people and uplift that, in a world that’s unsure about politics or economics or anything else that’s going on. We can just put the name of Jesus above all those things. You get to watch peoples spirits lift and go to the next level.”
Jad Gillies added that the song was an opportunity during each worship night for the team to pray for the crowd in front of them.
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“Joel prays for people that feel like they’re struggling with fear or anxiety, real things that people struggle with.” He said. “We pray for people before that song. It’s a pretty awesome moment for me.
My heart a storm, clouds raging deep within
The Prince of peace came bursting through the wind
The violent sky held its breath
And in Your light I found rest
“Billboard Awards Are Great—But That’s Not Our Goal!”
The United team are currently back on Aussie soil after a long series of worship nights around the world touring their Empires album.
During their interview at the Hope 103.2 studios, they laughed about the amazing and unexpected moment last month when they found out they’d won two Billboard awards: Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Song, for Oceans, a track on the 2013 Zion album.
Jad was out playing with his kids George and Harriet when he first heard the news.
“I was at at a trampoline park when we got the message,” he said, “and I’m like, “great, I’m in a foam pit with a four year old and a three year old!”
“We’re just this reluctant crew that’s been faithful with what God’s given us and He has blown our minds.”
Jad and his bandmates, while grateful for the awards, have a mixed attitude towards the accolades and “celebrity” side of being part of one of the world’s most influential worship bands. While it’s a blessing, they say their goal, more than anything, is to serve God and make a difference in lives.
“We got a text message from our business manager telling us we got [the] awards and we were like, “that’s hilarious!” because we never started out to do any of that,” worship leader Jonathan ‘JD’ Douglass said.
“We come from Hillsong church and that’s where we are every Sunday when we’re home, and that’s what it’s all been about for us,” he said. “We’re just this reluctant crew that’s been faithful with what God’s given us and He has blown our minds. We can’t believe we get to do what we get to do.”
Moments Of Worship And Communion With God
Singer Taya Smith told Emma that one of her favourite songs to lead was Closer Than You Know. She said the song always creates an intimate atmosphere because it’s when the band leads the crowd in communion.
“Joel [Houston] was writing that song from the perspective of Jesus praying for us before he went to the cross,” she said, “and there’s a part in it that’s our response to Jesus. I love that. Joel gets someone to get up and take communion on behalf of everyone that’s there, and it’s just a special moment of putting it before God and having communion with Him.”
Lord I hear You I know You’re there
Closer now than my skin and bones could dare
Breathing deep within me
You are always with me
The Song Written 20 Minutes Before Filming
For Jad, the song Empires is one that impacts him the most—especially considering the pressure he was under when he first led it.
“We did an event at the Forum a couple of years ago for a film, and we had to do some new songs,” he said.
“We hadn’t made this album (Empires) yet and we still didn’t have any lyrics for the new song. And 20 minutes before the night started, Joel finished the lyrics. So I had to learn the lyrics then sing it in front of the people who were there.
“As I was singing the words, I was thinking about them—and it was just the most powerful moment for me. Every time I sing that now, I always think about that moment.”
This is love, Bending skies to heal the broken
This is love, Bleeding life into the grave
Hear the sound, As our hearts cry out forever
Singing hallelujah, Breathing in a brand new world