Beginning today, four songs from Beatitudes are available for immediate download with each preorder of the album from iTunes, including for the first time today the tracks "The View from Here" featuring Hillsong UNITED and "Oh Mercy" featuring Matt Maher with additional vocals by Audrey Assad. Amy Grant's song for the project, "Morning Light," along with John Mark McMillan's "Heaven Is Around Us," are also available now for immediate download with preorder.
The album, which showcases 18 new tracks (plus 2 bonus tracks) from multiple Grammy and Dove Award-winning artists, leaders in their respective genres of Christian/Worship music, will release April 21 from Stugiology Music with management, marketing and distribution through The Fuel Music.
The full Beatitudes album is part of The Beatitudes Project (#TheBeatitudesProject), which is also a book, Words From The Hill (An Invitation to the Unexpected) from NavPress, and a documentary film, View From the Hill, currently in production. The project is the culmination of Grammy-nominated, Dove Award-winning musician, producer and author Stu Garrard's 15-year excavation of these "blessings at the bottom of life."
The song "Oh Mercy," written by Garrard and Maher, was inspired by the words of Jesus in Matthew 5, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled," and the life-changing encounters Garrard had across two decades of world travel as a musician.
"I think what we've done is tried to combine the American dream with Christianity," writes Garrard in the "Hunger and Thirst-Blessing or Requirement?" chapter of his Words From the Hill book. "I'm not sure those two things mix well. We need to be set free from that. And maybe the way we get set free is to hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice, and let the ache disrupt us into action until we become part of the solution."
"When you're hungering and thirsting for righteousness, you're actually hungering and thirsting for justice," confirms Maher.
"I remember being in Toronto in 2002 at an event called World Youth Day. It was 300,000 young people from all around the world, and the pope at the time, John Paul II, was there," continues Maher. "In his opening address, he talked about the Beatitudes. He talked about how the church needed to be a place where we fostered and encouraged the Beatitudes so much that we actually became a people known by those Beatitudes. I think that's a challenging commission."
"We live in a world that doesn't see eye to eye at all, and I feel like the whole message of Jesus, the gospel, what it means for Christians...we kind of stop looking at everything from our point of view and start to see the world differently," adds Hillsong UNITED's Joel Houston, who sings lead vocals on "The View From Here" that serves as the epilogue to the Beatitudes album. "That's really what the Beatitudes are about. This whole moment of Jesus really revealing a different way of thinking. A different way of seeing. A different way of looking at the world...and it is counterintuitive to everything that makes sense here and now..."
The entire The Beatitudes Project reveals a wide world of connected stories: real people from all faiths and walks of life who embody mercy, poverty, meekness, the hungry and thirsty, the peacemakers, the mourners, and the pure in heart-as seen, heard and experienced through a 21st century lens.
In addition to Grant, Hillsong UNITED, Maher, Assad, McMillan and Garrard, featured on the Beatitudes album are Michael W. Smith, Martin Smith, All Sons & Daughters, Amanda Cook, Propaganda, The Brilliance, Anthony Skinner, Terrian Bass and Becky Harding. Collectively, these artists have sold more than 62 million records, won 11 Grammy, 90 Dove Awards and amassed dozens of hit songs and millions of followers on social media.
"The Beatitudes Project is meant to be a reset button in a world plagued with violence and division," says Garrard. "These upside-down Jesus announcements on a hillside by the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 5 where Jews, Greeks, Romans and people of all ethnicities were gathered are a reminder that there is another way."