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Phil Wickham: The Ascension

The award-winning worship artist on music, ministry, and fatherhood

"This is the start of something amazing; a moment when Heaven touches Earth. Here in our hearts, Lord, we are waiting for something that's far beyond what we have seen or heard."

It is with this proclamation that worship artist Phil Wickham opens his latest release, "The Ascension." Drawing inspiration from the Songs of Ascent found in Psalms 120-134, Wickham paints a picture of the privilege we have to boldly approach the throne of God in worship.

Fans of Wickham's previous albums should have no problem relating to the sound of "The Ascension," and will enjoy a few surprises that exhibit Wickham's continued willingness to stretch today's Christian music scene to new bounds. On this album, Wickham also draws from his personal life more than ever before: Wickham welcomed his first child into the world just before the production of this record. Being a father has strengthened his relationship with the Lord, and has opened up new perspectives on Scripture that, growing up as the son of a worship leader, he has heard throughout his life.

Q: What themes do you want to proclaim to the church on your new album?

Wickham: The major theme of this record is desiring more of God. The idea of "The Ascension" comes from the Songs of Ascent, found in the Psalms. The Israelites would sing these as they ascended the hills into Jerusalem. Everyone would come together and do these massive celebrations of who God is with awesome moments of worship. The people were preparing their hearts for this holy moment with songs of remembrance, songs of anticipation, and worship.

That just created an awesome picture in my mind of what we do together today. Every time we get together we do a sort of ascension into his presence, because God says that he dwells in the praises of his people. Something special happens when people get together and worship God.

Talk about writing the song "Thirst." What does this song specifically illustrate about our personal, desperate need for God's love and grace in our lives?

Thirst comes from another idea in the Psalms where it says, "Even as the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you." That's the idea of the record. It's longing after God, wanting to be in his presence, and running after him. I would love to leave people with a thirst in their hearts for more of God—wanting to dive into the heart of God to experience life in the way he meant us to experience it.

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