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What a Beautiful Name with Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong Worship

As if her gorgeous accent wasn’t enough of a reason to tune in, get ready for some beautiful wisdom within the first 30 seconds of Brooke’s answer to the question “Why do we sing?” She also shares about the fabulous Children’s book, What A Beautiful Name, and the line that makes her tear up.

Brooke discusses parenting styles, and which of her daughters has sent her on more trips to urgent care than she cares to count. You’ll love hearing about the music from Hillsong Worship and what it is like collaborating with all her friends.

Special thanks to Northwest University for sponsoring the Passion Meets Purpose Podcast!

Interview Links:
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Transcription:

Purposely, your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com.

Brooke Ligertwood: What I think about God is not necessarily going to change somebody’s life, but what is true about God will. And obviously what we can rely on to what’s true about God is the Bible, is the word of God. And so, if our songs, as worship songs, church songs, and regeneration can be filled with scripture, then we know that we’re going to be singing something that’s true.

Sarah Taylor: Brooke Ligertwood, so thankful to have such a beautiful conversation with her. And of course, I could listen to her talk forever with her gorgeous accent. This is one of our archive‚Äôs conversations. We did this during the pandemic, but I want you to be able to hear, not only what she has to say about her latest children’s book that she and her husband co-wrote, and I love the reason why, but also about leading worship and why we sing. Please enjoy this conversation with Brooke Ligertwood.

I am going to jump right in with my favorite new question to ask songwriters, and I can’t wait to hear your response. Why do we sing?

Brooke Ligertwood: Oh, why do we sing? A few reasons, a few main ones we’ve seen because we were made to because it’s no accident that our bodies were designed that when we would open our mouths and project this breath forward, that it would, we could choose to engage these things called vocal cords, which we don’t even, you know, we, we do it from when we’re babies, so we’re not even aware of it.

We were born to make sound. And so, when it comes to being a believer in Jesus, when you connect with that redemptive purpose for your life, when you find out that you are here for a reason, then everything that you do has a reason. My hands, I can move my hands because I can use my hands to pick up something, and I can use my hands to comfort somebody to give somebody a hug.

I can use my hands to make food for somebody. I can use all of this physicality that God’s given me. And obviously we all have different degrees of that, but I believe all of us can use what we’ve been given for God’s glory, and to connect with our purpose and being fulfilled and doing so. So, we sing because we were born to sing. And when we sing, also music language that connects people without asking permission for that to happen.

So, music then the singing, so, when we sing together something else happens when we sing. We’re not just fulfilling our purpose, but we’re also connecting with the people that we’re singing with. And especially if that’s directed to God, then there’s something really special and powerful that happens, and purposeful when that happens.

Sarah Taylor: See, I knew that that would just flow out of you.

Brooke Ligertwood: That’s a very, that’s a big first question. We’re going to have to talk about like your favorite colors or something after the…

Sarah Taylor: Before we started recording you and I did, we talked about…

Brooke Ligertwood: We were talking about hair.

Sarah Taylor: We talked about hair. Tell me a story of when a song like that, just rose out of you.

Brooke Ligertwood: And I, I’ll tell a story, but I also want to balance it by saying as many songs as there have been for me as a songwriter that have risen up and that have flowed, there’s been songs that I’ve just had to work really, really hard on and on for a long time.

And that is where the that’s where honoring God with the discipline comes in. And that’s where, like work is awesome. Like w we were also made to work, work as good. So, so there’s work and then there’s songs that feel like gifts. And I guess the most recent one of those in my life has been Awake My Soul, from our album Last Year Awake.

And I was actually driving to pick up my kids from preschool one day, when that song came out of me in the car. So, it’s funny. I said, you know, I set aside these times and my, and my schedule to write, but it’s often in the shower or in the car that something will actually come and say, yeah, I was picking up my kids from preschool and just, you know, singing to the Lord on my way, and that melody, in those words just kind of started. To come out. So, I hit my voicemail, I button on my on my phone to make sure I didn’t lose it, but I was just, it just kind of flowed out. And so yeah, those songs are very gratitude inducing, because it feels like you didn’t, you don’t deserve those ones. I don’t deserve any of them actually.

Sarah Taylor: What would I give to have you have your phone near you to see what your latest voice memo is on it.

Brooke Ligertwood: I’m terrified. It sounds, it sounds, my voice, always sounds so bad. I mean, when you’re trying to get, you know, record something on voice, you’re not worrying about singing well, so probably sounds like a wobbly mother cat, my voice memos.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. That’s what I hear you often described as Brooke. Let’s talk about, so we’ve talked about the power of singing, but also just the words we choose to sing. You, I’ve even noticed just lyrically that the level of scripture and like just theologically accurate lyrics that you pour into your songs. Do you want to talk a little bit about how, why that’s so important that when we’re singing, it’s more than just uplifting music, but that it’s connecting at that soul level about who God is?

Brooke Ligertwood: Yeah. That’s such a great question. I think I think there’s a couple levels to that. I think one level is that I feel like with, with, with writing songs for, for the congregational, writing songs to be used by a believer in their devotion and their worship time. There’s, there’s kind of two things that I guess are subconsciously I’m holding as I’m, as I’m writing a song or trying to articulate an idea like that.

One of them is that what I think about God is not necessarily going to change somebody’s life, but what is true about God, will. And obviously what we can rely on terms of what’s true about God is the Bible is the word of God. And so, if our songs as worship songs, church songs, and regeneration can be filled with scripture, then we know that we’re going to be singing something that’s true. And even if it’s not verbatim scripture, something that has at least ideas that can be evidenced and backed up by scripture.

And then there’s the other side of that is that we also want to be the illuminating scripture of fresh for new generations, by being able to write that in a way that people can understand.

So, I don’t want people to have to push pause after a line and have to think about it for five minutes to try and figure out what it means. And there’s the balance of that. And then also not oversimplifying things so that you’re dumbing things down. So, there’s all of these elements of fresh. And I feel like we all, every single song writer who is attempting to do that needs absolutely the grace of God to make that happen, because it seems almost like an insurmountable task, and often feels that way too.

Sarah Taylor: It’s almost like you knew how to lead yourself into my next question, when you talk about the next generation, and the importance of just imparting all of that onto them, look at what we had. So, let’s talk about this Grammy award winning song, right? Grammy award? I think so. Yeah. And the fact that you and your husband wrote this with your friends, tell me about, I think you guys were just all having dinner together when the idea was brought up. So just tell me the process of this book.

Brooke Ligertwood: So, we wrote it with our dear friends, Ben and Carolee Fielding. So, I’ve been in, I wrote the song what a beautiful name. And the idea of the book really started at my youngest daughter, Brittany, was a few months old and we were reading books to, to them, to her and our elder daughter, and we were reading this book. Somebody had given us, which was based on our pop song, and it was just the lyrics to this little pop song with cute pictures. And my husband kind of shut the book at the end and he said, why doesn’t this exist for worship songs? I think we should make a what a beautiful name book.

And so, he started drawing like that night and then it wasn’t until months after, a couple months after that, that we were actually in New York for the Grammys, for what a beautiful name with Ben and Carolee, and the morning after the Grammys, we were having breakfast together and Scott shared the idea with him, and they were really excited about it. Jumped on board and then originally it was going to be just a lyric book, but then Carolee was like, what if we made it a story?

And so, then the four of us started writing the story and I’m going back and forth over, I guess it was at least a year and a half, kind of bringing them the story and then Scott drawing that whole time. And it says first time, well, he has up to this point, he hasn’t been a children’s book illustrator, so he was learning how to illustrate his was an incredible artist.

But I think he re-drew the whole book five times in different styles to try and land on what felt right for this book. So, it’s been a passion project between our two families, and really birthed it out of, we wanted it for our kids. We wanted a book like that for our kids. You know, as you are, I’m sure like avid consumers of children’s books.

We, reading time with our kids is part of our routine every day. So, to have, to have a book that could be a storybook, but place Jesus in there, And help kids learn that, discovering Jesus actually the greatest adventure ever was an exciting concept for us.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. The concept of the book, first of all, his illustrations are amazing. And yeah, it is, it’s all about an, an adventure Oliver and Leo and they, yeah. They’re going on an adventure for the, basically that name, that name that lives inside of them somewhere. You know, you’ve managed to accomplish what all great children’s books do, which are when you’re reading it as a parent to the child and the child is listening, but then something has happened in inside of the adult. And then you’re like, I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Brooke Ligertwood: I definitely the first time that, that we came upon that line where it says the most beautiful, wonderful, powerful part, it was the name of the person who lived in his heart. Like, I cried when they, I cried when that when we landed on that line, it was, yeah. So, it gets me too, yeah.

Sarah Taylor: It’s like your voice cracks a little bit when you read it out loud. What do you wish you understood about Jesus as a kid?

Brooke Ligertwood: I feel grateful that even actually, before I knew Jesus, when I was a kid, I thought about him a lot. And I hoped that he was having a nice day, which is so funny, but I always felt like he liked me. And so, I think that I, and I think that that was a, for whatever reason, God wired me that way, and it was a breadcrumb along the path to discovering Jesus for myself. But I, I would really love kids to know that Jesus likes them. I think they hear a lot that Jesus loves, them or some people don’t hear that. So, first of all, great for them to know Jesus loves them, but that Jesus really likes them.

Cause I think he does. And each child, if each child could know how special that they are, and that they’re not just loved, which kind of I feel like, love encompasses things like, like tolerance or endurance, but they’re not just loved, but they liked. That they’re enjoyed. That Jesus enjoys them. That God enjoys them. I think I love the idea of kids knowing that

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Sarah Taylor: Would you agree that as a parent, if your kids learn best by seeing it, something modeled within you, that is the best way for us to teach our children, that Jesus likes them, is to show that we believe it for ourselves as adults?

Brooke Ligertwood: 100%, my kids, a three and five now, and I just try and share moments with them. Like of where I can think of things with times where we’ve been in the car and there’s been worship on and I’ve been moved or I’ve started crying, or I’ve had they’ve noticed me have a physical response to something, and I’ve shared with them what’s going on.

I just feel actually, it was, I just, mommy just feels really grateful right now that Jesus has forgiven her for so many things, that so many mistakes that I’ve made, kind of giving them a window into things. One thing Scott and I have been talking about is a devotional time, obviously him and I do that at different times of the day and usually alone, you know, in our rooms with that, so our kids don’t see that. So, actually we have been talking more about actually our kids need to see us reading the Bible. Obviously, we do every day, but they don’t see it. So just trying to be, I think, we’re trying to be more intentional about letting them into our relationships with Jesus. And then, and then having conversations with them and not put any pressure on them or expectation when we’re asking questions of them, but being totally great with where they’re at. I mean, they’re three and five, so you can, you know, you know, the kind of answers you get from your kids when you ask them about things at this age. So, but just really, yeah, letting them have a little bit of a front row seat to our own relationships with the Lord.

Sarah Taylor: That makes me think of an, it’s like you brought back a memory of when I was in high school, and I just remember for a season, I saw my mom’s Bible open downstairs on the dining room, table, and notes everywhere. And that was new. I mean, I, through just observing every morning, knowing oh, she’d been up earlier that day. And then I kind of realized, yeah, she was really processing some stuff like in her career and in her life. And she never even talks to me about it, but I remember learning through her, never saying a word, but just through the evidence, when she goes through something tough, that’s where she goes to process.

Brooke Ligertwood: Wow. I have goosebumps. Yep. That’s it. How special is that?

Sarah Taylor: So, you’ve got Dylan and you’ve got Rooney. And I’ve heard you say in interviews before that one of them is a soft, sweet, tender heart, and the other one you’ve said, these are your words is savage.

Brooke Ligertwood: Yes.

Sarah Taylor: So, you’ve got two very different personalities, which I would imagine would have two very different parenting styles, but you’re still the same parent. So, tell me more about yours and Scotty’s process of how you ask the Lord to give you insight into who he’s creating in either, both of those girls, and then how you go about parenting their different personality styles.

Brooke Ligertwood: Yeah. Yeah. Our kids are three and five, so there’s very little, but very different. The best friends, which is the most wondrous and beautiful thing. They love each other so much and they get along so well, which is amazing. Dylan, five-year-old she just started school last month, and and one thing we talk about with, we just try, and we talk about our kids a lot. We additionally, but talking about, what do you think how do you think Dylan’s processing the season? What do you think? What are the elements of your personality that are going to make some things easy for her and some things a bit more challenging?

And so, with Dylan, who’s such a rule keeper and so responsible, and a risk taker only if she’s calculated the risk and assess that it’s probably likely to be successful. We know that we have to help her build resilience. So, we have to allow her to be in some tough situations and not trying to shield her from tough things. And so that’s, I feel like the hardest bit, because she’s just so soft and beautiful, but also if we don’t allow her to kind of, if school is a bit tough and she doesn’t want to go to school, she still has to go to school. Cause we can do hard things. You know, things like that though. She loves school. So, there’s not a problem.

And then Rooney, our youngest who has just drawn to risk, like it’s necessary for her survival. She is just, We have been to urgent care with that child more times than I can even count. She has swallowed guitar picks. She went through a season where she was taking stuffed toys, picking them apart and her putting the stuff in up her nose and inhaling it. So, we’d have to go to specialists to get it removed. ENT visits, three times. She loves all the things. And even though she’s three years old now and is old enough to know that those things are dangerous, and she just shouldn’t pick up things from the ground and put them in her mouth.

She’ll only do it if I’m watching though. She’d say she does it to push and get her reactions. I, with Rooney, I think it’s learning how to channel her powers for good and not for evil. And, and her confidence for the building of others, not the destruction. But she does have a really sweet, sweetheart, but she also just, she just loves to push the buttons. So, she’s, but she’s very entertaining. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor: Oh my goodness. I just want to know so much more about that. Tell me about some upcoming projects that you’re excited about.

Brooke Ligertwood: Yes. Well, this week we have Hillsong worship, Hillsong, United Hillsong, young and free album coming out.

We really, this year you know, obviously, we At home where we are no travel, no airplanes. And so, and so for us, we’ve been figuring out what does it look like for us to serve at church in a different way in the season? We, so we’re still supposed to be bringing songs to the church, our mandate hasn’t changed. What does that look like? And for us, we noticed that as obviously shutdown started and we weren’t able to gather physically anymore, that there are a lot of songs in the, in the services that we started doing an online service, that were older songs, but that these kind of confessions and declarations, that it was time to sing some of these again. It was time to remind us again, through these convictions and these declarations. And so, and it was honestly, this album was a nightmare to make because we were in three different countries, three different times zones, that some, and also some countries had less restrictions than others, so we were trying to do a bit more where there was, this restrictions. We’d have a plan for the recording would be the next day, and then the restrictions would change. You know, there would be, so I think the plan changed about five times. But what we’ve ended up with is something that I’m really moved by, which is an album of songs that have existed in the past, but completely re-imagined with new voices, and new treatments, and all of us across the world.

I cried when we saw, I saw the visuals a few days ago, cause we’re all in different parts of the world. We’re all separated. These are my best friends. And I haven’t seen a lot of it in the flesh now for seven months, but we were together like leading, leading worship and pointing people to Jesus.

And so that moved me, cause I’m like, oh, well we’re together. We’re not, we’re not together physically, but we’re together on, on film, together on, on, on these, on these recordings. And so, that album is called take heart again.

Sarah Taylor: So excited. Thank you so much for your time today.

Brooke Ligertwood: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me and great to see you again.

Sarah Taylor: Our thanks to Brooke and her team. Scott Karow, our wonderful producer, and Rebecca Beckett, our content coordinator. And of course, thanks to you for listening. I’ll see you in two weeks.

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