Michael W. Smith enters a new phase of humility, creativity and intimacy with his creator.
The Columbine High School massacre.
The September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Haiti earthquake.
These three events represent some of the
most shocking and devastating tragedies of
Lives lost senselessly, families broken
needlessly and faith shattered upon the
harsh cliffs of reality and grief…
In the wake of each of these calamities,
Michael W. Smith has offered songs, drawing
people together and shifting the perspective
from, “Why, God?” to “How do we see You in
His music has been leading people to the
throne room for decades. And in times of
crisis, his compassionate heart has led people
to the arms of Christ.
Following Columbine, “This Is Your Time”
honored the price of faith and the heart
of the faithful who paid it. After the Haiti
earthquake, he brought the CCM industry
together to record “Come Together Now
Haiti,” offering resources and hope.
And on Sept. 11, 2001, his timeless album
was released, immediately providing
a voice to those left speechless by the horrific
tragedy of that day.
It’s no surprise then that, 13 years later, his
music continues to offer healing and hope.
As he readied the release of his first studio
worship album since 2008, a friend asked him
to sing at his son’s funeral. The friend’s son
had committed suicide.
“It’s one thing to lose a child,” Michael says
quietly. “It was such a challenge to deliver
the song and hold it together. I just closed
my eyes and tried to get inside the song and
deliver it in a beautiful way. I always want
to be authentic and beautiful, but there’s a
balance. If I let myself go, I’d be a basket-case
and never get through it.”
The song, “Sovereign Over Us,” which would
inspire the title of the album, Sovereign
reminds us all that regardless of circumstance,
He is greater and higher and above all.
“We are here for a moment, and then
we’re gone,” says Michael. “He’s sovereign and in control. He rules the universe. We
know Him in part, but do we really know His
ways? Sometimes I think I have a clue, but I
probably don’t even come close to knowing
how large He truly is.”
Michael’s candor is refreshing and largely
informed every aspect of the project — from
the creative perspective to the spiritual.
“There’s something really special about the
motivation on this record,” Michael says. “The
posture was pure. I think it’s very special. I
feel like it’s a record for our time.”
From the opening strains of the album to
the last refrain, it is unequivocally one of the
most relevant albums he’s ever made. With a
different production approach and an entirely
new team, the album captures a moment of
rejuvenation in Michael’s life and career.
“I’m with a new label, Capitol Records,”
Michael says. “I needed a change, and we did
this as a team. Everyone gave 110 percent
from day one. They gave it the attention the
record needed to have.”
The team was large, and the scope of the
project was equally as grand.
“It was a long, beautiful journey,” says
Michael. “We went through about 120 songs.
If a song didn’t hit the bar, it didn’t make the
The songs that did land on the record
are beautiful, vertical and, as Michael says, “very different. All the songs are pretty
worshipful on some level, but they have
a more anthemic, pop element to them.
It’s different from any worship album I’ve
ever done. Honestly, we didn’t have a solid
concept for a theme other than wanting to
find great songs. A lot of times, if you don’t
set out with a theme, you can get something
that’s pretty disparate. But this really holds
together like it was all pre-conceived on a
drawing board. It’s a God thing. His favor
was upon the process.”
It was a process that very
quickly expanded beyond
Michael, involving many new
writers and collaborators,
including one very special writer.
“My son Ryan wrote most of
the lyrics on ‘Sky Spills Over,’”
says Michael proudly. “The whole lyric is
fresh. I love it.
“If I had to pick one song over all as my
favorite, it would be ‘Sovereign Over Us.’ This
is a song for our time. There’s so much truth
in the song. As the bridge says, Even what the
enemy means for evil/ He means for good.
Watch the live performance of "Sovereign Over Us" here...
Already, the music is resonating with
audiences. The Sovereign
tour kicked off in
Pennsylvania with shows that have been,
according to Michael, “amazing.”
“When we sing ‘Christ Be All Around Me,’ it’s such a huge moment. You almost can’t
contain the energy in the passion that is
“We just had our tenth grandchild,” he says
with a laugh. “What in the world? How did
that happen? We’re extremely thankful for
that. When your kids are good, you’re good.
That’s probably our biggest blessing right
It’s a blessing Michael is intentionally
taking the time to appreciate and enjoy,
relishing the sovereignty of God in every
facet of life.
“On a Gungor record, Michael Gungor
speaks for about the first ten minutes. He
reminds us that we’re a blade of grass, a
vapor. We’re here for a moment and then
we’re gone. God is the one who’s sovereign
and in control,” Michael shares. “We live in a
society where everything is at your fingertips,
vying for your attention. We need to just be
still. I don’t think we do that very well, but
my hope and prayer is that this record will
connect with people and help them get to
The world is chaotic. A tragedy is just a
When the Columbines and the September
11ths and the family tragedies take place,
God has divinely appointed men and women
much like Michael to help all of us remember
that no matter what—despite the deepest
pain and the greatest of uncertainty, fear,
loss or anger — He is good. He is in control. He
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