Mercy Me, a decades-long staple in Christian music, released the band’s 11th studio album “Always Only Jesus” Friday, with lead singer Bart Millard explaining the heart behind the new music.
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Millard also reflected on his shock over how divided the church was throughout the pandemic — something he’s hoping Mercy Me’s new music can help heal.
“I dunno if I’ve ever seen the body of Christ more divided than it has been lately,” he said.
The title of the album — “Always Only Jesus” — is a sentiment at the very heart of the Gospel message. And it’s something Millard and the band kept in mind while making the music, keeping Christ at the center of it all.
“While making this record, all the songs were deliberately … towards Jesus and about Jesus,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, this is the perfect time, because if we’ve ever needed a common denominator to agree on, it has to be Jesus.'”
Watch Millard discuss his life, career, and new album:
That message becomes even more pertinent, considering the state of culture inside and outside the church.
“If there was ever a time to try to unify the body, for us to kind of do our part, it’s to sing about Jesus,” Millard said. “And so, unintentionally, we looked at this album from beginning to end and was … all pointing one direction. There’s no way to misunderstand what this is about.”
Even the album’s artwork reflects the idea of making sure Jesus is at the center. Rather than a photo of the band members’ faces, it includes a mere silhouette.
“Always Only Jesus,” Millard said, is the “most important record” Mercy Me has produced to date. And that’s saying something, considering the band’s sweeping music catalog.
He’s hoping the music inspires people in the church to love one another better.
Among all the movements around today, Millard said “grace and forgiveness” is by far the “craziest movement to be a part of,” and he called on fellow believers to show that grace and mercy to others and especially to one another.
“I believe with all of my heart that … we’re on the outskirts of something amazing,” he said. “I really believe that because the pendulum always swings.”
Millard’s passion for music and the humble nature through which he discusses his band’s three-decade career is stunning, particularly when one considers the rare facets of Mercy Me’s success. One example is their song, “I Can Only Imagine,” which became a hit feature film across the globe.
But it’s the longevity — mixed with no sign of slowing down — that is yet another of the captivating attributes of Mercy Me’s success.
“We’re trying to avoid hard labor at all costs, is what we always say,” Millard quipped when asked about the band’s enduring presence. “These guys are genuinely my best friends.”
He added, “I don’t know if we’ll ever quit.”
Listen to Millard discuss “Always Only Jesus,” his personal journey, and how, “I Can Only Imagine,” changed his life, among other topics.
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