This album has been a long time in the making. It was first conceived in early 2003, as I prepared to make the biggest move of my life, to go to Afghanistan to work for an international NGO as a computer teacher. As I was getting ready to go that spring, the thought occurred to me – not entirely unreasonable really (even in hindsight) – that there was a chance I just might not possibly come back. At that time I had amassed a small collection of worship songs that I had written but had never recorded, and thought: It sure would be nice to be able to leave a recording behind – just in case.
The only problem was, I was going crazy trying to tie up the loose ends of my life in NYC and knew that, even for an idealist like me, it was absolutely NUTS to even attempt trying to do a recording on top of all the million and one things I had to do. So I made a deal with myself. It turns out I’m not the greatest of sleepers, and quite often I find myself awake before the alarm goes off. If this happens to you, you know how it’s kind of wasted time. So, I had the idea to set up a recording rig next to my bed, with my guitar at the ready, and decided that any time I got up early, I would literally roll out of bed and record a song.
Before long (unfortunately for my sleep) I had recorded about 15 songs, just guitar and voice, all very raw and intimate. One of the songs was based on Psalm 65:8:
Where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy
Given the conditions of the recording, the title of the album naturally presented itself. This original release of Where Morning Dawns had a very limited distribution – about 20 copies, just to close friends. But I had done it. And a few weeks later, with the satisfaction of having left a legacy, if that’s what it turned out to be, off I went.
And back I came! Very much alive and in one piece, having had the experience of a lifetime. And while I was back in the ‘States in 2007 I thought it would be nice to re-record those songs more ‘properly’ and get them out there for a wider release (the original recordings, despite having a haunting immediacy to them, really weren’t of the best quality). So accordingly in 2007 I began re-recording the songs, still with acoustic guitar and vocal as the core, many of them still recorded early in the morning, right out of bed. I wanted to add some other sounds for the sake of variety and kept working away at the project, adding overdubs here and there. But then that fall once again I was off to the other side of the world, this time more confident (warranted or not) in the chances of a safe return. Which did wonders for my state of mind, but unfortunately eliminated the urgency for getting the album out.
When I returned in 2009 and enrolled in graduate studies I kept chipping away at the project, recording more overdubs (including some ethnic instruments I had picked up in my travels), and mixing and mastering in my spare time. The result is the album you now have before you. It’s different from the original project. Some of the original songs have been dropped; others (especially the ones written about or during my time in Afghanistan) have been added. But it still reflects the essence of the original vision of the project, which is to express and facilitate a time of intimate worship of God. Each one of the songs has its own unique story, which you can read about on the Songs page. As for releasing the album, I decided, in line with recent trends in the music industry and the nature of the project, to make it a free release through noisetrade.
I have long defined “worship” as the right response to who God is and what he has done. These songs are best understood as expressing the point of response; the intersection of a soul and God. That is why, perhaps, there is a lot of “I” in them. They tend to reflect the sense of surrender or consecration that I feel welling up inside me when I encounter God. This, then, is how they are “worship” songs; they are written in light of and in response to who God is as I have experienced him at a certain point in my life. If I were writing them now I think they would be different; less “I” and more “You.” But so it is. That is what I get for taking so long with the project, and in any event that is why they call it a “record!”
So that’s the story of Where Morning Dawns. Of course I hope you like it. These songs have blessed me time and time again over the past years, and my prayer is that they would do the same for you. With love,