Cedarville’s student worship group HeartSong will release a new album at 11 a.m. on April 16. The album, titled “Hallelujah,” covers 11 contemporary Christian songs recreated by HeartSong members. Junior Aleska Barkoviak, a vocalist for the group, said the album is centered on the gospel and will be available and relevant to everyone.
“Hallelujah” is one of dozens of annually released albums by HeartSong, following last year’s “Reign in Us,” said Jim Cato, vice president of Christian Ministries. Barkoviak said in her three years recording with HeartSong, she’s never worked on an album as top-quality and powerful as this one. Everyone in the group poured a lot of creativity and beauty into it, she said. And tons of prayer, too, she and Cato said.
“Hallelujah” comprises various instruments and styles of music, including acoustic, electric and country. Each member of HeartSong’s four teams (Red, Blue, Green and Orange) has a part in the recordings, as well as a Cedarville student who plays violin but is not a member of the group.
This year’s album features something new, junior Joe Bennett, leader of the orange team, said: the harp. The sound and quality really work together to lead people in authentic worship, he said.
“That’s who we are as Cedarville, as a community,” Bennett said. “We’re people living on a mission for Christ.”
And that mission, he said, is to exalt God through the gospel.
Worship is not about trying to have fun or look or sound good, Bennett said. Instead, it’s about glorifying God in spirit and in truth as the Bible teaches in John 4:24, he said. Bennett said he believes every member of HeartSong has an authentic relationship with Jesus and that really comes through in how God is glorified through the music.
HeartSong travels a lot during the summer and has a great opportunity to promote Cedarville by selling albums at churches and camps, Cato said. Many prospective students and parents buy the albums and have an opportunity to see how gospel-focused Cedarville is. Last summer alone, HeartSong interacted with about 40,000 campers, Cato said.
“We desire to worship exclusively,” he said. “That means we are going to worship only God. So, we’re striving not to worship a style or a form, but to worship God and God alone. And to center completely on Jesus. We want to know, live and speak the good news about Jesus.”
The album’s name, “Hallelujah,” comes from the heart and lyrics of its songs, Barkoviak said. She said it expresses the gospel and Christians’ response to it. Many members of HeartSong have shared their own testimonies and responses to the gospel on HeartSong’s Facebook page, she said. The word “hallelujah” means “praise the Lord,” or “praise to Yahweh.”
Cedarville will host a praise chapel the day the album is released, and HeartSong will perform nine of the 11 songs from the album, Barkoviak said. She said the music aims to encourage, comfort and remind listeners of Christ’s truth, and she said she hopes everyone responds by authentically worshipping.
The album goes on sale 11 a.m. April 16 for $10, five dollars cheaper than last year’s, Cato said, and proceeds help fund HeartSong’s ministry.
The album will be available in the lower SSC, the campus bookstore and the Christian Ministries office as well as online at iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and HeartSong’s website. The album will gradually be released on YouTube with downloadable chord sheets to make songs available for church use, Barkoviak said.
Laura Ullom is a freshman English and Spanish major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. She enjoys creating and solving riddles and playing the occasional game of chess.