It’s pretty crazy to think that even after five albums to his credit, many people are just now discovering Phil Wickham for the first time.

Since 2003, Wickham has been churning out praise and worship albums and will be releasing his sixth, The Ascension, on September 24th. He can hardly contain himself. “Listening to the final mixes of the new record and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Poured all I could into this record, so stoked to share it!” said Phil in a recent tweet from his Twitter account.

The song Wickham is most excited about and one that you may already be singing in church, “This is Amazing Grace” took a long time to come to fruition for this record. The original version of the song was written many years ago with a friend.

It was done cheap and dirty on Wickham’s computer and passed around from one person to another as an MP3 file. It eventually found its way to Bethel Church in Redding, CA where Jeremy Riddle asked if he could rewrite the verses. An agreement was made and the song was included on the Bethel Live album. Wickham was so taken by how the song turned out, that he decided that he wanted it put on his own album.

“It’s about the amazing grace and unfailing love of this God … this King of Glory, the King above of all Kings,” says Wickham in a video posted on his website. “The verses are about His majesty and what He’s done. What He can speak into existence and how He can bring our chaos back into order. He makes the orphan His son and daughter … How this King of Glory through His amazing grace and unfailing love took our place on this cross and bore our sin and went to our graves so that we might be set free so that we might be forgiven.

It is the story that God has written and has let us all be a part of. This story of falling away and Him reaching out for us and His redemption and renewal happening. My heart is filled with thankfulness for what God has done whenever I get to sing this song. I am so excited to have it on the record so I can sing it with people as I travel around.”

“This is Amazing Grace” is the best song on the album both in lyrics and music. It is upbeat, sounds reminiscent to older Newsboys songs and is a nice contrast to some of the more mellow songs on the album. Like a child asking why the sky is blue, the song is full of impossible questions and answers:

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness,
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of Glory, the King above all Kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory, the King above all Kings.

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You laid down your life
That I would be set free
Jesus I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

Overall, The Ascension is a fairly “calm” album that will bridge the gap between the older and younger generations. Nothing too aggressive and nothing too soft. Songs like the title track might be mistaken at times for a fantasy movie soundtrack. This isn’t a negative. These songs have a sense of wonder to them. They may remind you of your childhood and the mysteries of life, just like the Bible instructs us to have the faith like a child. One song, “Holy Light,” plays like a strong anthem and yet still holds softness to it.

For country lovers, Wickham gets a little twangy with “When My Heart is Torn Asunder” and “Tears of Joy.” They both have the distinction of sounding unlike anything else on the album and “Joy” has the best line: “Let my last breath here be my first with you.”

To help you while you wait, you may be interested to know that there is an exclusive presale offer on his website. Actually, there are four offers. The most basic ($10) will get you an instant download of the album single with the rest of the digital version delivered on August 24th. On the upper end ($65) you’ll get a lot more including a signed physical copy of the album, a t-shirt, teaching videos and more.

For most Christian music lovers, this album is definitely worth checking out.

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