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Describing the members of Atlanta based CCM powerhouse Casting
Crowns as "heroes of faith" feels like an understatement. The
band has produced mega-hits like "Praise You In This Storm,"
"East to West," "Who Am I," and "Just Be Held," broken sales
records, sold out arenas, won prestigious awards and traveled the
world singing songs of redemption.
And their latest, "Only Jesus" has them in the the
top 5 on Billboard's Contemporary
Christian Music charts, like so many times before.
There's not much within the realm
of Christian music the band hasn't accomplished. The impact of
Casting Crowns is incalculable, the fingerprint of their songs
forever imprinted onto the hearts of millions of people.
But for Mark Hall, lead singer and primary songwriter, describing
the band's trajectory as any sort of heroic effort is entirely
wrong. When discussing the band's latest project, Only Jesus,
Hall takes great pains to shift the focus off of the band, off of
himself, and solely onto the one they sing about - Jesus. The new
album digs deep into the who and the why, inviting the listener on a
heart-journey of foundational faith, immovable trust and ultimately,
freedom in Christ.
Traditionally, Mark's songwriting inspiration has come from his
daily interactions with students and parents as a full-time youth
pastor. For every album, Hall keeps a journal filled with notes,
lyrics and song ideas as well as voice memos of song ideas and
melodies on his phone.
While driving to Nashville to begin the recording process for Only
Jesus, and immediately after walking through deep trauma with
some close friends, Hall's songwriting journal and phone were stolen
out of his car. All of the ideas and lyrics he'd been collecting for
the past two years were gone in an instant.
"When it was time to write for the record," Hall shares, "I'd just
had to walk through one of the darkest things I've ever experienced.
And then all of my notes and song ideas were stolen. I had to start
from zero." Without a foundation of ideas to draw from, Hall was
forced to delve into the inner-workings of his own heart.
The result is a collection of songs that are more than the life lessons
and teachings from scripture fans have come to expect, they're
personal expressions of the need for a savior. "These songs were
coming out of the heart," Hall says. "I wrote the lyric When my
world is breaking me / Your love is shaping me ("In the Hands of
the Potter") during that time."
Only Jesus is a labor of love that points people to a savior who
relentlessly and passionately pursues. It's an album full of depth
and wisdom with plenty of energy and anthemic praise.
While working on the album, Hall was also wrestling with the unspoken
idea that Christian musicians are expected to leave a legacy with
their music. For him, the idea of a legacy meant making the ministry
about himself, boasting his own name and contribution.
"Looking back on my own life," Hall says, "the people who've had the
most impact, who shared their story at just the right moment and
pointed me to Christ, their names don't come to mind. It's the
impact of shared truth that leaves a mark." This was driven home
when Hall was approached in a Wal-Mart parking lot by a fan. "He
came up to me and asked me if I was the guy from Casting Crowns. I
told him I was, and he said, 'Man, one of your songs, when you guys
first came out, it really took me straight to a place I needed to be
to trust Jesus more.'
Casting Crowns' Official Lyric Video for
"Only Jesus" -
official lyric video of
"God Of All My Days -
official lyric video of
"Oh, My Soul" -
"He was trying to remember the song, said it was about God and
faith, which, you know, really narrowed it down," Hall jokes. "I
started naming off song titles like, "Praise You In This Storm?"
"Who Am I?" The guy kept saying, 'No, no, no, none of those.'
The fact that he couldn't remember the song was the sweetest moment
for me. Because I see my place in that. I'm not here to be
remembered or to be known. Paul said in I Corinthians 2, V. 1-5,
'When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or
wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I decided
to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him
crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much
trembling. My message and my preaching were not with persuasive
words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so
that your faith would not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's
These verses have defined Hall's approach not only to songwriting, but
all aspects of ministry - to make Jesus known above everything else.
It shows up in songs like "The Bridge," "Nobody," and "One
Awkward Moment," with a message to decrease your own identity so
that Jesus may be known completely. To live a life in such devotion
to Him that no one would be surprised to hear His name from you.
"Paul got it," Hall says. "In every book or letter he wrote, he would
stop and say, 'You do know I was the scum of the earth, right?' He
didn't want anyone to be confused about his place. He knew that if
people only looked up to him, they'd get lost. Because it's not
about the person who tells you about Jesus, it's about Jesus. As a
believer, that's something I needed to hear."
Hall found continued inspiration in the story of John the Baptist. "John
the Baptist lived his whole life in obscurity. He was known for
speaking truth, harsh truth, radical truth, and when the people came
to him and asked his name, he didn't even tell them. In John 1:23 he
said, 'I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness.' And he
wasn't humbling himself, it wasn't a humble brag because the closer
you get to Jesus, the less you have to humble yourself. You are
Helping people understand the nature of God's love, of Jesus's sacrifice,
continues to be the mission of Casting Crowns. Only Jesus
personifies that mission.
"I want people to see that God is the author and the finisher of our
faith," Hall shares. "He starts the work and He finishes the work.
If we could just rest in the fact that He saved us, that He's got
us, we can rest in what He's doing now and strive for what's ahead."
It's a timeless message, and one that's still changing lives today.
For Casting Crowns, there's one thing they hope people will take
away after listening to the new album - only Jesus.
(Come To The Well)
(Until The Whole
Information for the Atlanta church family
From the award-winning band comes a musical challenge encouraging us
to look beyond ourselves and focus on the One whose name is
everlasting! Reflect on Jesus' glory as you listen to
"Starts Right Here," "One Awkward Moment," "Wake Up This Sleeper,"
"Even When You're Running," "One More Song for You," "The Change in
Me," "Hands of the Potter,"
Hymns of Faith)
offers a selection of cherished hymns and original songs on this
twelve song set. Glorious
Day: Hymns of Faith includes
If We Are The Body, I Surrender All (All To Jesus), Nothing But The
Blood, Praise You In This Storm,
beloved Atlanta based chart-topping band comes another deeply
rooted, soul-stirring collection of songs for God's people! Features
the first single, "One Step Away," along with
"Hallelujah," "What If I Gave Everything," "God of All My Days,"
"The God Man Passes By," "For All You Are," "Song That the Angels
Can't Sing," "Make Me a River," "No Other Name," the title
So many of us today are simply
surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to
Thrive. Thrive, the brand new studio record from
Casting Crowns, is packed with the band's signature style of songs
about real life that redefine our identity in Christ, pointing us to
our purpose from Him so that we may carry it out through Him. It's
time for us to more than survive. We were made to THRIVE! Includes
the hits "Broken Together" and "Just Be Held."
Live Worship Experience)
live at Casting Crowns' home church in Atlanta, A Live Worship
Experience features a combination of the band's signature hits
and today's top worship songs. Sing and worship along with "Great
Are You Lord," "Thrive," "Just Be Held," "Called Me Higher," "Just
Be Held" and more.