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The revolution now begins


“What’s cool about this [Revolution Worship] is that it’s for us, by us. It’s for The Salvation Army,” says Worship Arts songwriter Dan Casey.
“What’s cool about this [Revolution Worship] is that it’s for us, by us. It’s for The Salvation Army,” says Worship Arts songwriter Dan Casey.

Others writer Anthony Castle interviews Worship Arts Coordinator Dan Casey about his role as a singer/songwriter and the impact it is having on the musical direction of worship in The Salvation Army.

 

The National Worship Arts Team consists of various people with different skill sets. What’s your background?

A decade ago, I was playing in bands. I toured the world in a band that I saw as my church on the road, my ministry in a sense. My band had been nominated for an ARIA, and we played festivals like the Big Day Out, sharing a main stage with The Killers and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. That was what God had in store for me. I always felt the need to do that in the secular space, to bring hope, but in the last couple of years, I felt a pull towards the more traditional church. My heart is for young people, and I’m bringing whatever skill I can to help show God’s character to them. This isn’t my rock-and-roll dream here. I did all that. I don’t do this as an ambitious music project. This is where I feel called. This is something I’m passionate about.


The Worship Arts team has a passion to see creative arts continually lead people to encounters with Jesus. What is Revolution Worship, where does it sit, and what is its goal?

Revolution Worship is a platform for new music within The Salvation Army. It’s not a group or a band but a platform that paves the way to produce a united message through our music. It happens within my role with the Worship Arts team, but the end goal is a spot for The Salvation Army’s songwriters to land. Right now, we create resources for our corps and events and build connections with songwriters and creatives.


The Salvation Army often models performance culture, making spaces for musicians or vocalists to build skill sets by performing existing work. More recently, it hasn’t always had structures for creativity and new material. Is this platform about making space for creativity, not just performance?

The Salvos have lost way too many skilled and amazing artists because there’s nowhere for them to go. There are all these worship bands out there in other organisations, and the line-ups can be half Salvo. What’s cool about this is that it’s for us, by us. It’s for The Salvation Army. There’s a sense of ownership about it. Using other people’s gifts, so they don’t have to go elsewhere to use their creativity. Authenticity is the main thing. It’s trying to do something that works, coming from a heart place. It’s an authentic expression of our skills and our creative gifts. This is the material we want to make, what we want to hear coming from our movement.


Dan says the Worships Arts team’s songs are being rolled out at events, camps and corps around the country.
Dan says the Worships Arts team’s songs are being rolled out at events, camps and corps around the country.

What impact has the music had so far?

Our material has been in the Christian charts and the top 30 TCM (Today’s Christian Music) charts. People respect that, but the thing that we’re loving is the corps are using the songs on Sundays. It’s working on Friday nights, at events, at camps, and has our theology, our personality.


That authenticity is resourcing local corps. It’s collaborative, working with other mission teams to get the best outcome. I think there’s power in the ownership. Each week, corps are using the songs, thousands are hearing these songs every year. How many other songs out there reflect what we believe about God, about justice, about our cities? With ownership comes that pathway to participation; you can own this, and you can have space here, you can be part of the contribution. There are two songs out at the moment, ‘Our Redeemer’ and ‘Love Never Ending’. It’s only been a few months, and we’re seeing all this traction. We’re working on a new one at the moment, laying a foundation for musicians and songwriters to feed into. We’re creating a platform for artists to express themselves in this movement. It’s only through weird God circumstances that I have found the position I’m in. I was definitely not planning on working in the movement, but God’s created opportunities to use my gifts here.


 

Links for more information and the music of Dan Casey:




Dan Casey in the studio recording the single Our Redeemer.
Dan Casey in the studio recording the single Our Redeemer.

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