It is always entertaining working with creatives who continually come up with the grandest plans and ideas and then believe it will be outworked. So when three years ago it was suggested we record a live version of the songs from ‘EMPIRES’ in Israel, where Jesus walked – most of us thought great idea… impossible.
The theme of ‘EMPIRES’ was the beatitudes, paradox, black and white, etc. exactly as Jesus preached, so it made sense – but practicalities always come into it. Fast-forward 2.5 years with this conversation a memory – we form a partnership with World Vision – who want to take us to Lebanon – right next to Israel…
There are obvious concerns and precautions when visiting the middle east and the trip was postponed and changed a few times – but we landed on a date that worked – gathered the best team we have (30 in total including audio engineers, videographers and our team) and we went with a plan to capture a few songs in a few locations.
Over 15 songs and locations – and a few endless days later we captured something truly special and now we present ‘Of Dirt and Grace’ the 12 songs of EMPIRES plus a few bonus ones recorded LIVE and on location in Israel – from Jerusalem up to Tiberius around the Sea of Galilee. It was a surreal experience to see the places we read about all time in the Bible come to life.
The team worked hard to present the songs in a different light, not only LIVE, but new arrangements. The video team captured these in a stunning fashion and the audio team pulled of the seemingly impossible capturing the audio in multiple locations.
From ‘Captain’ on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, ‘Touch the Sky’ from the lowest point on Earth and cliffs over Galilee, Madness by the Garden Tomb which is one of the places people believe Jesus was buried, ‘Closer Than You Know’ from under an olive tree similar to where Jesus would have prayed the night He died for us, ‘Say the Word’ from on the Mt. of Beatitudes looking back to where Jesus probably preached the most famous sermon of all.
Our hope is that people catch a tiny glimpse of what we experienced whilst on this trip. ‘Prince of Peace’ is available now and has footage from our time in Israel and Lebanon.
(Hillsong UNITED Brand and Business Manager)
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