February 17, 2014
The word glory can be found throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New. Its origins can be traced to the Hebrew language, where it originally conveyed “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word was then translated into the Greek language, where it meant “importance,” “honor” and “majesty.” Other variations include meanings such as “judgment,” “opinion,” “good reputation” and “honor.”
As diverse as the various meanings appear, each nuance retains a characteristic that is not only good; but characteristics we often associate with God.
It makes sense, then, that Kutless’s latest album, Glory, is all about the characteristics of God.
“We intentionally focused on the attributes of God,” says Jon Micah, front man of Kutless. “Part of the whole process was wrapping our head around the concept of God and not on ourselves. The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God. Our tendency is to seek first our problems and treat our relationship with God as you would a magical genie. But God is so much bigger than that. God’s being and glory is so spectacular, I find when I focus on that the rest of the world somehow fades away, including your problems.”
Focus is a key component to this album, and to Kutless’s ministry overall. In the twelve years since their self-titled debut, they have walked a fine and, what appears to be, a wavering line between rock and worship. And while industry, radio, media and consumers have tried to place parameters around the band, Kutless has never been interested in labels.
“We love rock and we’ve always done worship,” says Jon. “They are both a part of who we are. They can co-exist.”
They can and they do. With a dexterity that only comes from seasoned and excellent musicians, Kutless has been able to capture the emotion and intensity of rock and marry it with the vertical lyrics of worship.
“The emotion that comes from rock is big and powerful,” says Jon. “To capture that and focus that musical emotion up in worship consistently is a special thing to do.”
And it’s the very thing that has become Kutless’s specialty. On this record, however, they took it a step further. Not only are the songs accessible to those hearing it; they are accessible to those who may be leading, playing and singing them in their own churches week after week.
“We’ve never had many songs that were accessible for worship leaders,” says Jon. “I like those big soaring choruses, but not everyone can do it. We were very intentional about trying to make these songs usable by keeping them fairly simple with very singable melodies.”
As they have done so often in the past, Kutless again managed to deliver the very best kind of paradox—songs that are simple enough for Sunday morning, that retain the integrity of the musicality.
Each track on Glory beautifully melds truth and art. In so doing, Kutless has achieved that which many bands never aspire; but to them, is the ultimate goal—transparency.
“Our hope is that people will identify with the songs they’re going to sing,” says Jon.
If the past is any indication, that hope will likely be realized.
On their previous record, Believer, the song “Even If” became one of their most popular and polarizing songs. Love it or hate it, people could hear their own heartache, tragedy, victory and doubt in the song.
“It was a very polarizing song,” Jon reflects. “Some said it was exactly what they needed to hear; others were furious that we would suggest that God doesn’t always bring healing. Personally, I’ve seen a lot of people not be healed. I’ve grown to learn that God is working on an eternal spectrum. He is much more about the end than the process of the story.
“If you look through scripture, you see many different stories,” he continues. “Some are victorious. Some were horrible and brutal. But ultimately, God is always glorified. Seeing that has made me realize that faith is not a conditional thing. Personally, the most difficult times of my life have been the times when God has done the greatest work for eternity. Trials and tribulations point to Him and His glory. It’s easy to trust when everything is great. But that’s not faith. You won’t always understand what He’s doing but faith is knowing we have a loving Father who cares for us and will never give us more than we can handle. What a small price to pay for eternity with Him.”
Until eternity calls them home, Kutless will continue doing what they do best—seeking new ways to express the weight, importance, majesty of God in a vessel that is accessible to the church and to those outside the church, all the while, waiting with expectation for the moment they come face to face with glory.
“God’s glory and being is so spectacular, there’s no room to say anything but wow,” Jon says. “I find that when I focus on that—on what worship will look like in heaven when we see God face to face—the rest of the fades away.”
Caroline Lusk is editor of CCM Magazine.