One of the UK’s rising musical talents, who is helping to reinvigorate Psalm-singing in the Scottish church scene, will be performing in concert in Inverness this weekend.
30-year-old John Wilson helps lead the praise at Kiltarlity Free Church, who have seen a resurgence in churchgoing in the Inverness-shire village over the past five-years.
Hotly tipped to be one of the UK’s leading Christian worship leaders, John is already attracting interest south of the Border having previously held a senior music post at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, during his studies in London.
He will be performing at a special concert in Smithton-Culloden Free Church on the east of Inverness, on Saturday 21 February from 7pm. Admission is free, though donations can be made to support John’s ongoing ministry.
John started singing and playing guitar when he was 16, and went onto do formal music training – scooping several accolades in the process including ‘Young Highland Singer of the Year’ at the Inverness Music Festival.
In 2010 he began to contextualise his music and media skills to church worship, and became contemporary music co-ordinator at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster whilst he completed his studies.
After graduating with a second degree in theology, he moved back to the Highlands – where Rev Joe Barnard invited him to partner with Kiltarlity Free Church by developing their musical worship.
Mr Barnard said: “John Wilson is an incredible young musician and worship leader.
“One of the things I'm really excited about is how John is revitalising Psalm singing, not just by writing new tunes, but by re-thinking how the Psalms should be sung.
“His versions of Psalm 96, 110, and 6 are awesome.
“He's taking the lyrics of the Sing Psalms and putting them to music as fun to sing as a Matt Redman ballad.”
John explained his love of the Psalms: “People often try to sing the psalms like they would hymns. If you can find the right Psalm translated into an appropriate musical meter, this can often work well.
“However the psalms in their originality were never really designed to be sung in that way and at Kiltarlity we are beginning to take a different approach by singing them in a more interactive style.
“We are singing the psalms in a ‘call and response’ style of singing between the worship leader/precentor and the congregation.
“It is not only a fun and accessible way of singing, but also an excellent way of remembering Psalms in their entirety.
“This style of singing is great for families as parents who can now sing interactively with their children at home.”
John added that his main interest in the Psalms was their “teaching value” and how they can be used to “enrich Christian discipleship and theology through their regular inclusion in worship”.
Rev Joe Barnard said: “Our ambition at Kiltarlity is for there to be a resurgence of Psalm singing in the Scottish church. This will never happen unless our style of singing changes.
“We need to embrace the Psalms and to find a way to connect their timeless words to the palate of 21st century ears.
“Our hope is that one day Baptist churches, independent churches, even Pentecostal churches will be looking to the Free Church for inspiration with praise.”
You can check out more of John’s own music ministry songs at www.johnalexanderwilson.net
John Alexander Wilson in Concert takes place at Smithton Free Church, Inverness, on Saturday 21 February, beginning at 7pm. All welcome.
Photo courtesy of Steve Creamer ([email protected])