Last year I came across the album Psalm Songs, Vol. 1 by The Corner Room (the music ministry of Cahaba Park Church in Birmingham, AL, led by Adam Wright). I was struck by so many things about that album: the beautiful arrangements, the excellent way the text of Psalms was set to music word-for-word, and how effective it was at helping me not only memorize, but also sing the Psalms. I had that album on repeat for most of 2016.
Here’s the lyric video to the setting of Psalm 121 from that album:
“Love Never Ends is a three movement suite of 1 Corinthians 13 verbatim from the ESV Bible. Written for piano, strings and brass, the resulting cinematic landscape make this a truly breathtaking journey through one of the most familiar passages in Scripture. This project is designed to help anyone, from children to adults, know and treasure God’s Word.”
Here’s a quick video sample:
I asked Adam to share with us a bit of his story, and the heart behind The Corner Room and their recent album. Here’s a short interview:
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Adam Wright and I have lived in Birmingham, AL my entire life. It’s definitely home! I have a beautiful wife of almost 11 years named Jessica and two adorable daughters: Nora, 3 and Jill, 1. I love to read and listen to music constantly. I also enjoy a deep, thought provoking movie from time to time – Christopher Nolan’s films have been some of my favorites (especially The Dark Knight Trilogy). I also am a stickler for correct grammar and punctuation. Did I mention I’m a nerd? I must have forgotten that part, but you’ve probably gathered that by now…
How did God call you into worship leading?
Music has always been a natural part of life. From childhood to young adult years, there were always opportunities to grow and serve at church – youth and adult choirs, handbells, contemporary worship services, youth group worship, solos, etc. There were more opportunities in college – some at churches and some with college ministries on campus at the University of Montevallo. After graduating college, I got a part time job playing piano for a church which had both a traditional and a contemporary service. After three years serving that church “behind the scenes,” I began working at Cahaba Park, which has been a wonderful place to use and develop God’s good gifts. Initially, my perception of my job was to choose and lead four songs in the service – easy enough, right? Wrong! As I grew in my understanding of worship leadership, I found that there was a spiritual component that transcends executing songs. There is a pastoral role in what I am choosing and planning every week for our congregation and for me, the weekly process is devotional. I have loved working at Cahaba Park and am thankful for the opportunity to serve such a great group of folks.
Tell us about your worship ministry and the heart behind some of your recent projects.
In 2016, I created The Corner Room, a music resource ministry of Cahaba Park Church. While we do have an EP of hymns (What Great Mystery, 2016), our specific focus is setting Scripture verbatim from the ESV Bible (the translation that our church uses in worship) to music. The Corner Room has released two “Scripture song” projects: Psalm Songs, Volume I, a collection of ten psalms set to original music; and Love Never Ends, a three movement suite of 1 Corinthians 13. Our hope is that these songs would create opportunities for people to experience the Word of God in a fresh and unique way, and serve as a tool for Scripture meditation and memorization. While these projects are not intended for congregational singing, I believe that singing the Word of God to those in our services as they follow along is a powerful tool in corporate worship. We played Psalm 8 in worship this past week and as I looked into the congregation, I saw husbands and wives, parents and children, youth and singles, following along in their Bibles while the Scripture was sung. I’d like to encourage more music leaders to do this occasionally (or often), as it provides a moment for people to be still and reflect on the words and truths of Scripture.
Tell us about your latest project: “Love Never Ends”
All of the Corner Room projects to date have originated from the books of the Bible preached in our services. Seeking to thematically incorporate the sermon text into the service, I took the texts that were going to be preached and prepared musical arrangements for them – both for Psalms and for 1 Corinthians 13. Recording these songs was a natural extension of what our church was learning and created more opportunity for our people to reflect upon the text.
1 Corinthians 13 is one of those passages that is almost too familiar and it’s a challenge to create a musical arrangement that evokes a fresh sense of wonder and awe. It’s such a tender text, but it’s also extremely vibrant in it’s descriptions of love. Any previous interpretation I’d heard was extremely “ballady” and I challenged myself to think beyond the natural tendency to approach it that way. Previous Corner Room projects had a very “rootsy” focus – I’m definitely inclined to write in that vein. As I began these arrangements, I decided to use the both delicate and percussive piano as the main instrument and invited Grammy-nominated arranger/composer Don Hart, to score the accompanying (and phenomenal!) strings and brass.
This project has moved me to consider more deeply the love Christ has demonstrated towards me and the love to which he calls me to exemplify to others. I remember my initial listen of the first movement. In tears, I had to stop halfway through, drop to my knees and thank the Lord for his grace in Christ, and for the opportunity and gifts to create something like this. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It was a truly humbling moment.
What’s next for you?
I am currently at work on Psalm Songs, Volume II! I hope to have it completed by winter of 2017-2018. Stay tuned!
Any chance you have any freebies you could give away?
I will gladly give away some freebies! How about 3 digital downloads?
Thanks, Adam, for your ministry, and for sharing your heart with us.
If you’d like to get one of those free digital downloads Adam is offering, please comment below. At 12:00pm tomorrow I’ll randomly pick three commenters, and will put Adam in touch with you.
You can follow The Corner Room on Twitter @cornerroommusic.