Praise and worship music helps young people connect with God in an intimate way. Photo by Michael Chen

How youth discover their faith through music

By  Teresa Quadros, Youth Speak News
  • January 20, 2017

From the moment Ryan Hermack wakes up in the morning to the moment before he goes to sleep at night, his Spotify playlist shuffles through hundreds of Christian praise music.

For Hermack, it’s like bringing the feeling of Mass into his everyday life.

“Praise and worship music is something that I can relate to my life,” said the 19-year-old theology student. “When it touches my heart, it helps me feel closer to God and I can feel His presence around me.”

With a strong Catholic upbringing, Hermack finds that praise and worship music helped him get to the next level in his relationship with God, in ways secular music could never achieve.

And he’s not alone. Music and singing have been part of faith life since religion began and have become essential to the well-being of any parish, especially among young people.

“When you start and end your day bringing praise and worship music in your life, you can continue to feel the joy of Christ, and it reminds you to praise God and lift up to Him all that goes on in your life,” said Hermack.

His favourite band is Tenth Avenue North. He described their music as songs of salvation and truth. Their music, he said, is a way to connect with those lost in their faith and are looking for the path back to Christ.

“Music is everywhere, and in everything,” said Chris Bray, Canadian worship leader and songwriter. “That’s the power of praise and worship music. It journeys with you past the end of a session, allowing us to continue interacting with God.”

Bray is the songwriter of Canadian Christian radio hits like “Called” and “Finally Let Go.” He has performed praise and worship concerts across North America, including the national March for Life rally in Ottawa and Steubenville Toronto.

Fellow Canadian worship leader and songwriter Joe Zambon said one of the best parts of performing at youth rallies is seeing the music bring young people out of their shell.

“Your voice is an intimate part of a person. Many youth are not comfortable with their voice, they don’t want to be seen or heard, but praise and worship music opens up young people and challenges them to be comfortable to praise with the whole body,” he said.

“Watching them go on a journey, to see them break out of their shell, going from crossed arms to just seeing on their face they’ve been transformed, it’s the way the Holy Spirit works,” said Zambon, who will be taking his band to the east coast this year to be the worship leader of Steubenville Atlantic in Halifax

That youthful transformation that comes with singing is something Nancy Bodsworth has seen up close in her Brampton, Ont., parish of St. Anthony, where she started the youth choir almost 20 years ago.

“Choir is an avenue for youth to participate in the Mass,” she said. “Kids need an outlet to be creative, and music, it’s an universal language. And praise and worship music has this positive message, giving kids a way to pray.”

Fr. Joseph Pham, pastor of St. Anthony, described the youth as the soul of the parish and said they have changed the dynamics of the church community.

“Youth attracts the family, it is a good sign of hope, that the Church is alive and the Holy Spirit is working in us,” he said.

As for the music, Pham was clear: “Without music, the church is dead. When people sing, they put their heart and soul in praising the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Spirit.”

(Quadros, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.)

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