You’ve almost definitely heard some of Hillsong’s powerful worship anthems over the past two decades. “Mighty to Save,” “Forever Reign,” “Shout to the Lord,” “Hosanna,” “Lead Me to the Cross,” and plenty more of their songs have made it to churches all over the world’s worship song lists. And that is what Hillsong’s music exists for – to provide resources for the church to worship the Lord.
But with Cornerstone, Hillsong’s twenty-first album, it was a tragedy in Norway that inspired the album. Reuben Morgan shared that this tragedy, in which seventy innocent people (mostly children) were murdered, caused him to pick up his guitar in worship. As the body of Christ, when one member suffers, we all suffer with it. We also have a firm foundation we can stand on in time of tragedy – our cornerstone is Jesus Christ. That is the inspiration for Cornerstone, another powerful worship project from Hillsong.
Cornerstone kicks off with “Endless Light,” a somewhat upbeat track that simply celebrates the unending and powerful love of God. It is great to hear Jad Gillies leading this opening track, which is fun sounding and full of freedom. Written by Brooke Fraser Ligertwood and her husband Scott, “Beneath The Waters (I will Rise) follows as a very melodic track. Annie Garratt leads this celebratory track very well, as the worship track powerfully contemplates what happens at baptism – we are raised from the water a new creation. I really enjoyed that Hillsong would right a song like this, especially since I haven’t heard others like it.
The title track, led by Dave Ware, follows on a mellower note; nevertheless, it is certainly not a lesser track. Borrowing lyrics from “The Solid Rock” hymn, “Cornerstone” causes the listener to remember that when all else fails, we can stand on Jesus and on His Word. The track, which builds at certain parts and weakens at other moments, leads into the slower “I Surrender,” written and led by Matt Crocker. Lyrically, the track is simple – reckless abandon to our Creator Who gave up everything for us – but melodically, it is complex with accentuated drums.
“Hope of the World,” the first radio single off Cornerstone follows nicely. In this track we hear both Reuben and Annie, but it is cool to hear the congregation take over – almost even louder than the worship leaders themselves! Because it is a radio single, the studio version also follows at the end of the standard edition of this album, as a bonus track, only that version is led by Ben Fielding instead. Also noteworthy about this single is the absolutely beautiful and powerful bridge, stating: “All we need is You,” which leads back in to the bridge excellently. I am sure we will see this song readily accepted by churches in America just as much as the rest of Hillsong’s worship anthems have been.
“All My Hope” and “Grace Abounds” both continue the slower, worshipful side of things. “All My Hope” is led again by Annie and has a slower African feel to it and a simple message of giving God every ounce of trust and energy we have, while “Grace Abounds” is lead by Dean Ussher (with supportive backing vocals from Darlene Zschech) and celebrates the free gift of grace that was given to us at the cross (“Your grace abounds to me/ Jesus, in You I find all that I need”). The pure simplicity yet heart-gripping lyrics that Hillsong has to offer is amazing.
“Running” and “Children of the Light” are both led by Jonathan Douglass and Joel Houston, so therefore they take on a definitive Hillsong United upbeat feel. “Running” will have the listener singing along in no time as it speaks of running and chasing after all of God, while “Children of the Light” has pounding drums and speaks of our role in the kingdom of God as His children.
The album’s last three songs are all significantly less upbeat, but do not refrain from offering powerful messages. “Stand In Awe” confesses that God is better than anything this world has to offer, while “Love Knows No End” has a slight Latino beat to it and contemplates God’s indescribable love for His children. The slowest of them all, “Greater Than All” has a beautiful melody, remembering the wonderful things that the Lord has done for His children. These tracks which close the Cornerstone standard edition are lead by Ben, Dave, and Jad, respectively.
The deluxe edition of Cornerstone features more must-have worship anthems, including “Love So High,” sounding much like a hymn, the piano-based “I Desire Jesus,” (the only track off this album that is led by Darlene Zschech) and the Hillsong United sound-alike “Praise Jesus,” which, besides having the audience screaming out “Whoa!” has a slight disco rhythm to it. The deluxe edition also includes a few other studio editions of the songs that were already presented in live fashion.
In summary, Cornerstone is another heart-felt and powerful worship album! Though I wouldn’t say that this is Hillsong’s best worship album to date (I still think For All You’ve Done and A Beautiful Exchange are) it is impossible to deny that Hillsong offers the best worship songs around. They are easy to sing-along to, minister healing in times of brokenness, and offer soundtracks to the times of life when we just can’t help but shout praises to our King of Kings! If you are a long-time fan of Hillsong, you won’t be disappointed by this project.
Release date: July 3, 2012
1. Endless Light
2. Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)
4. I Surrender
5. Hope of the World
6. All My Hope
7. Grace Abounds
9. Children of the Light
10. Stand In Awe
11. Love Knows No End
12. Greater Than All
13. Hope of the World (Studio Edition
Bonus Deluxe Edition Tracks:
13. Love So High
14. I Desire Jesus
15. Praise Him