(Photo courtesy of rebeccastjames.com)
An Interview on surrendered trust with Rebecca St. James
By Sarah Komisky
For a moment the world wondered if they would ever hear from Rebecca St. James again. Then, in the middle of 2020 came a surfacing in the nine-year hiatus from music. An EP that reflected the honest dichotomy of pain and power of worship. One year later, she surprises us once again by teaming up with the brothers she affectionately refers to as “the boys.” Specifically, these “boys” known as Joel and Luke from For King & Country have rallied together with their sister on crafting a new worship anthem entitled, “Kingdom Come.” But there have also been other new ventures. This includes hosting the beloved AccessMore podcast, “Rebecca St. James Friends and Family,” as well as being a part of an incredible film that chronicles the CCM industry that Rebecca has made her mark on known as “The Jesus Movie,” newly released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital platforms. To our delight, we pick up this December in a new chapter with a new Rebecca. One who has matured in a new season as wife, mom, and artist. And as I had the honor of being one of those who get to re-connect with her, I knew I wanted to have a conversation that merged past with the present. Therefore, this interview reflects that full circle. An encapsulation catch-up with a music favorite on the things that were, that are, and what she hopes will be with one remaining thread, worship. Enjoy.
Marked Ministry: I’m so excited for the new single coming out and I thought we would get started just talking about that new single with your brothers from King & Country. And, I read on Instagram that you said that this was always a dream of yours to be able to work with and create a song from scratch together. So talk about the opportunity and what it means to you?
Rebecca: The boys and I have worked together and served God together, forever. Joel was twelve when he started singing background vocals with me onstage. And I’ve guested on quite a few of their songs and Joel has written on some of my songs when he was a lot younger, before For King & Country. But, this was a different thing because it was like we were creating a song for my project from the beginning. Dreaming it, praying about it, getting together, and then crafting it musically, and singing together. So it was a pure collaboration on every level. So it felt very special.
You go into a songwriting session hoping the Holy Spirit’s going to move and He did! We left that day thinking, something landed today that was super special. And It’s about, the Lord’s prayer and asking Him for His Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So, it’s very biblical. It’s got the beatitudes in it. Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn for you. Blessed are the heavy-hearted. And, I mean, people are poor in spirit and they are very heavy-hearted right now. So, I think it’s going to be a song that feels very now and very current, but it’s also a call for revival and a call for God to move in a transformative way in our world right now with a new wave of the Holy Spirit. So, I’m just really excited because I think the song is for such a time as this and it’s been really beautiful to do this with the boys in partnership.
Marked Ministry: We’re getting ready in the U.S. for the holidays, how do you think we can posture our hearts towards worship?
Rebecca: I think worship is always an integral part of a Christian’s life. Whether it’s singing worship or at home playing worship music. Whether it’s at church or whether it’s just in our hearts having a worship attitude towards God or worship. So I think worship takes so many different forms and it can be the way we live. Like, am I living a life of worship in all my intentions and daily duties living it out as worship to God? And that’s my goal as a mama of 3, as a wife, and a daughter of Jesus. In everything, I’m doing with this intent that it’s for Him. Going into Christmas, it’s even more reminders physically in our world, to worship. Because we’re thinking about thankfulness and all we have to be thankful for; even in a challenging time in history. And I think everyone would agree that we are in challenging times and we’re in times that probably on the natural level, invite fear more than ever before in all of our lives. But, on the spirit level, we can be excited that He overcomes and we’re overcomers because He is the overcomer. And, we can rest in God that He will look after us during whatever is happening in our world.
Christmas is such a magical, beautiful, wondrous time, and thinking about what Jesus did and the ultimate gift of Himself coming as a baby. And, the vulnerability and the humility of that, what God the Creator did that for us is so beautiful. And that invites worship. So, I think all of life needs to be worship, but I think this particular season invites worship in a special way. And thanking Him for family and friendships and all the beautiful components that the holidays bring as well as their challenges [laughs]. In essence, what I’m saying is, we can worship HIm and thank HIm in any season. There is always something to be thankful for. Even just breath.
Marked Ministry: And that’s such a beautiful thing, even in those hard things like you were saying that is difficult with the holidays and how we need to be reminded of worship even in those places. Want to talk about the “Jesus Music Film,” which is what you were a part of as well. Awesome film. I know you were talking about its connection with revival, we mentioned that a little bit earlier. But, when you were walking through this film and when you got to see it again, what were your thoughts on the subject of worship and revival?
Rebecca: There are so many artists in the film. But, I was thankful to be involved and to have seen the Christian music journey. Because I grew up on Christian music as a kid in Australia. I went to my first Christmas show at 6-weeks-old at Sydney Opera house. So, it’s just, always been a part of my life. So even watching the film, I saw, I mean before my time for sure, I mean what was happening in the early 70s’. But, a lot of those artists, I knew them. They came to Australia toured, and I knew them personally. Or, then I worked with a lot of those artists being in Christian music for 20 years. And now, I’m doing a podcast with KLOVE and I’m interviewing some of these people. I knew going into it that it would be nostalgic and special on the level of all my involvement in Christian music in its various forms. But I didn’t expect the personal impact it would have on me. And that was, at the end of the film I was just overwhelmed by this sense of longing for Jesus and a move of God. I long for revival to happen again now as we see in the “Jesus Music Film” in the Jesus Movement in the early days of Christian music. I just long for that to happen again now. So, I also think the film made me again, be grateful that I have been able to be a part of this Christian music journey. That has been a privilege to be a part of it. And thankful for what I get to do through honoring God through music. So, it was impactful. And I encourage everyone to watch it because I think it’s very moving.
Marked Ministry: I went back and was listening to some of your music in the 90s, early 2000s, and then hearing your music now. Worship has always been the thread in your career. So, talk about that, how it has changed and what the journey has been through worship.
Rebecca: Aw, thank you for picking up on that because it really is true. When I moved to the U.S., there was a real work of God happening through Hillsong in Sydney. And we had gone to that church for a couple of years. So, I was 11 or 12 when I attended that church. So, I saw what God was doing there in worship. And then recorded a worship album in Australia at 13 and that was the foundation of all I have done in music. But we moved to the U.S. when I was fourteen and I started recording my first album at 15. So, that impact that I had had through worship in Australia definitely influenced my first album and then, every album after. And I think a part of it is that a lot of my lyrics are just orientated in that prayer, praise, worship, direction. And then some songs are more explicitly worship and I had some albums that are all worship. But, this last album is an interesting hybrid because it’s more Euro-pop, modern-style sound. So, even the song, Kingdom King is a mix of my song and the boys’ sound, but it’s worship. But, It’s the Bible and directly to Him, asking for revival and talking about who God is, and praising HIm. From the beginning to now, you’re 100 percent right, worship has been an integral part and always will be. I just think it’s what we’re created to do and, it will play out differently with any artist or any person in the way we worship God is unique to who we are. The way we worship is distinct from who we are. And, I think as believers, we are all created to do that.
Marked Ministry: And, I think as we look back, purity was a message you championed and lived out. And, I think it really did impact a generation. I was a part of that generation. It created seeds I think for what I do today for this magazine. So, I wanted to know, as we are looking back and then looking at where we are now, the culture has changed in terms of how we view purity and how we see it with disdain, legalism, or something we want to push away completely. So, how would you want to speak into that in this generation where you are now?
Rebecca: There was a purity movement that was happening for sure. In the late 90s and early 2000s. So that was definitely a wave within the church that I was a part of for a while. I got asked to speak at a bunch of youth rallies and True Love Waits rallies and it happened very organically that I was asked to speak about that as a part of my set as I was singing. And it was such a hotspot issue for so many young people and it kind of became a natural platform in my life because it was what I was living in that waiting time in my life. Even at that time, it was a controversial issue. It’s not an easy thing to hear about because it goes against our human nature or our selfish desires to do whatever we want and not be restricted in that area. So I think, any of that that was back then is just more now. Because we live in such a sexualized society. But I still think it’s such an incredible, important topic. And it’s something I hope for our girls’ sake (we have two girls, seven and three) and then, we have a son who’s one, so as our kids grow up, that God raises up young people to speak about it or write a book about it or a have a song about it that God raises the next generation of young people that are prepared to say, “this is what God says…this is God’s most beautiful way, let’s live it together.” We can do it, even in the culture that we’re living in. Honestly, people were, very, very supportive of me in that message. I got very little direct opposition of people saying, “that’s archaic” or “you shouldn’t talk about that.” It was overwhelmingly 99.9% of people saying, “thank you for speaking on this issue, it’s so needed.” And still needed today.
Marked Ministry: I love how you shared about this season now as a wife and mom and how you want to pass that on to your children and those around you. Which, I think is an incredible thing. And, just looking at your EP with “Dawn,” I wanted to talk about that as well. It came out of this place of pain. So, I wanted to talk about how we can worship through the pain because that’s really what this EP was. So, talk about that.
Rebecca: I think most of us would agree that David in the Psalms was the ultimate worshiper. He was somebody who went from saying, God, this is so hard, I’m in this struggle, too, but I will praise you in the storm and I will worship you, and give thanks to the Lord because His goodness is forever. He went from this place of grieving his pain to worship and acknowledging who God is and I think that is such an example to all of us. So, I think in that EP. I think I attempted a lot in my writing, I wrote with a lot of Bethel artists and one of the Hillsong writers, Elevation, and some of these different cutting edge worship leaders. It was a real privilege to write with them. But in each session, I was trying to marry this idea of being truthful about the challenges of life, but worshipping God in the middle of it. There’s a song called, “Middle of the Fire,” In the middle of the fire I will trust you Father/ In the middle of the fire you are standing with us. Like, honoring Him and worshiping Him in that storm. And then, there’s another song, “Are you ready for the Rain? It’s like, “are you ready for the rain of the Holy Spirit?” I think there are a few different ideas of rain can be a challenge of life, but also it also can represent the movement of the Holy Spirit because we’re parched, we’re desperate. So, I think when people listen to the lyrics they can hear this honestly about the pain of life, but also this hope that Jesus brings a sunrise, He brings the dawn, and He brings newness.
Marked Ministry: Thank you so much for sharing your story and the musical journey. Closing out our time together, what’s coming up next?
Rebecca St. James: We’re really hoping that “Kingdom Come” could be used within the church. I’ve been singing at some large churches around the country. And it was profound for me to hear this orchestra, full choir, band, everybody playing this song. So, we’re praying that the church welcomes these songs in their ministry and it becomes this moment of worship in what they’re doing. But also, this invitation for God to bring revival into the church. That’s our intent that this full-length album that includes “Kingdom Come” that releases in February 2021 really resources the church with fresh worship.
Find out more about Rebecca St. James by visiting rebeccastjames.com