Listen: Renowned UK worship leader and pastor Tim Hughes (Here I am To Worship, Happy Day) was behind the UK’s version of The Blessing
The Blessing may have been a song written in spontaneous worship, but since it was penned it’s taken on a life of its own that’s circled the globe and been a declaration of hope during the uncertainty of our times.
Originally written by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes and the team at Elevation Church in North Carolina, The Blessing’s now been viewed over 15 million times on YouTube — and that’s just their recording of it.
Based on the priestly blessing in the book Numbers in the Bible, the song has been recorded numerous times now in the form of collaborative videos in countries including Sweden, Canada, Singapore, the UK and, recently, Australia, with each singer declaring the song’s uplifting words of life and faith over their nation.
Renowned worship leader and pastor Tim Hughes (Here I am To Worship, Happy Day) was behind the UK’s version. He told Hope 103.2 the song provides a timely symbol of unity.
“At a time in the UK where our church building are closed, we just wanted to say that church is alive; church has never been about buildings, it’s been about people,” Tim said.
Much like the Australian recording and those before it, The UK Blessing features singers from all denominations of the Christian faith, with 65 shown on screen, that Tim said reflect and represent hundreds more. It’s a display of togetherness that he believes shows the church can – and should – have a role creating healthy diverse communities.
“The church is the most diverse community of people gathering on the face of the earth,” Tim said. “Ages, genders, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds — and that’s beautiful. But I think we need to model it in terms of leadership and how we do things.
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“I live in Birmingham in the UK, and the amount of hurt and anger from both black people and white people around [the Black Lives Matter movement] that’s been happening in America has caused recognition that there’s horrendous systemic racial abuse that happens in the UK everyday.
“You realise, ‘We’ve got to do something about this’. And it starts with taking a posture of trying to listen and learn, and reflect and ask, ‘Am I missing stuff? Have I turned a blind eye?’…There’s a lot of unconscious bias we can all have without necessarily realising.
“To put a song together? In some way that’s easy. But to really build a united diverse community? That’s going to take years and years and years of listening, of loving, of learning and apologising… I feel really convicted as a church pastor to go on that journey.”
Seeing how rapidly The Blessing has gone viral and been embraced around the world, Tim said is all about its message of peace and hope.
“At a time of real uncertainty and real anxiety, this song is a reminder that God loves us, that He’s for us, and watching over us. These things have been like an injection of peace and a shot of hope in the midst of [the current crisis],” he said.
As a man who’s led worship in crowds of thousands, there’s things Tim misses about the church gathering in the ways it has, but this season of lockdown has also given him new boundaries he’d like to live his life by.
“The thing I’ve missed is a reminder that we’re not alone,” Tim said. “When we gather as a church we take such confidence in seeing people grapple with the same issues as us…There’s something about when you gather together and you begin singing these songs and you look around at everyone singing with passion, and it just strengthens you and builds you up.”
On the plus side, Tim said that “What has been removed from life is the relentless rush…and that rushing just puts your soul in a permanent state of tension”.
“I want to make sure my life doesn’t end up with the crazy, crazy rush,” he said. “You’re always going to be busy, and there’s going to be pressure and intensity; that’s part of leadership and serving. But I think there’s ways of doing things now that can just bring a but more simplicity.”
Tim’s recommendation to younger church leaders and those overseeing this generation of flux is to prioritise prayer and personal times of worship.
“We’ve bought into this idea that influence happens through busyness,” he said. “We’ve almost put ourselves and our capacity and creativity and ingenuity at the center of it,” he said.
“But if we’re going to have a deep lasting impact, if we’re going to see God’s Kingdom come, I can tell you now it’s not going to come by one idea. It’s going to come by a move of God’s Spirit. And the best way to align ourselves with that and to usher that in is through prayer.”