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Making The Battle Hymn

It’s 6 am and I am sitting at JFK airport waiting for Andrew’s flight to get in. So I figured I would share a little about our latest music video.

I got to work with some incredibly talented people who helped me stumble through the first video I’ve ever directed. I am incredibly grateful for all the people who lent their skills to this project without getting paid a penny. Without them there would be no video or song to talk about.

“The Battle Hymn” almost didn’t make it onto our album. When I wrote it originally I never intended it to be a collaboration. It was supposed to be a small scale meditative song with just me and a piano.

But something about me singing it alone seemed…well…boring. So I decided to scrap the song. Then one night it hit me. This needed not just one or two singers. It needed five. Four specific singers came to mind all at once. Jae, Michelle, Daijha and Calie. And with no regard for timezone differences, I texted all of them demanding they sing on my album. They all willingly obliged.

Calie was the first to send me her vocal recording from Virginia. She literally recorded the vocal in her closet and I cried like a baby when I heard it. The other singers followed suit and as the song started to come together, another idea popped into my head: Dancers!!

The original concept for the video was going to take place in a ballroom with the dancers all dancing together. But renting out a ballroom for a day in LA is expensive as butt. So then a new idea hit me like a ton of bricks. We would make each dancer into a character in an undignified or broken situation. Each dancer would be in their own setting and have their own story of overcoming.

As the dancers danced the final Hallelujah, they would all move in unison but in completely separate places. The idea was that though our struggles may be different, there is a God who gives us common ground in all of human suffering. His spirit has the power to move us in unison so that regardless of what we may be going through, we share a common hope in God. It gives purpose to our pain, hope in our trials. Our norm in this life may be hardship and struggle, but there are brief flashes of radiance and joy that can take us out of our chaotic existence and bring us to a place of peace.

Finding the right dancers to bring this story to life was difficult, but in the end, we found an amazing choreographer, Megan Higaki and phenomenal dancers: Nick, Nicole, Jason and Aileen. These guys braved, the cold, the hard asphalt, the dirty subway floors and dusty rooms to deliver something inspiring and beautiful. On the last day of filming, I started to tear up watching Aileen finish out the final verse of the song. I was so grateful seeing a small idea that was placed on my heart become a piece of art that so many people were a part of. I don’t know how many people will resonate with this video, but it is something that so many of us poured our hearts into so that we could remind the world that God is near the broken.

The fight for faith, the fight for love and the fight for goodness is a battle that we wage everyday. Sometimes we falter, sometimes we lose heart, and then sometimes we catch a glimpse of glory. And hopefully it is enough to assure us that the Lord will make a way.

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