In 2014, Phil Wickham didn’t know whether or not he’d ever be able to sing again.
He’d gone to the doctor, having canceled a string
of concerts because his throat was bothering him. He could barely talk. The
doctors ran a few tests and discovered a vocal polyp - a small lesion on his
vocal cord. They could remove it, but the healing process would take time. Phil
wouldn’t be able to speak for a month, and after that, there were no guarantees
his voice would ever be the same. He might not even be able to sing
“I was upset,” Phil says. “I was afraid for the
future. It felt like my identity was being stripped away.”
All of this had come a few months into the process
of writing his seventh album, but it was a struggle. “It’d become this mundane
thing - more a job than a passion,” Phil says. “I didn’t know what to write.
I’d sit down to write a song, and I’d think ‘What do I say?’ I could say the
same stuff I’d already said on old albums over again, but I didn’t want to do
that. I needed a personal awakening.”
Then came the vocal polyp, the doctors, and the
month of silence. Very suddenly, Phil’s whole future was thrown into question.
“I remember a few days after the diagnosis, I was on my knees asking God for
some peace and clarity and a sense of Him in it all. All
of the sudden I had this strong sense of Gods presence there with me.
There have only been a few times in my life where I felt, undeniably, His voice
speaking to me. This was one of them. I felt, undeniably,
His voice speaking to me. He said my identity is not in what I do, but it’s in
who He says I am. He said ‘I’m your father. You’re my child. Trust me.’”
That sensation of being near to God stayed with
Phil. He still had damaged vocal cords and an uncertain future, but one thing
he didn’t have anymore was the fear.
“I’ve been singing songs about being a child of God
since I was three years old,” Phil says. “I know that phrase. But it went from
a Sunday School idea to this massive, freeing truth. Maybe because I’m a dad
now. I equated my love for my kids to the God who is love - who created love.
He loves me like a father. I found so much freedom and hope and peace in this
fresh realization of my standing with Him as a child.”
Given a new sense of passion and freedom, Phil sat
down to do what had proven so difficult just a few months earlier. He sat down
to write some songs.
“I started writing songs out of this reawakening in
my heart,” he says. “I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to sing a
whole record of them. But I had a freedom and a lightness in my heart. That’s
why I called the record Children of God. The way I feel about the
record, that excitement and freshness, I feel like it’s my first record all
over again. I feel refreshed. I have a new sound and a new heart. I can’t wait
to get on the road and play these songs.”
That zeal is evident on Children of God’s
first single, “Your Love Awakens Me,” a rollicking, massive worship anthem with
an unforgettable chorus that dares you not to dance along. “I feel like my
heart’s been reawakened to passion and purpose. That’s where the song came
from,” Phil explains. “I definitely wanted the lyrics to be very communal
in a way that wasn’t specific to my situation, but is specific to everyone’s
situation who is going through something hard. The music coupled with the
lyrics and celebrating God’s love and wanting more of Him - I hope that will
The whole album pulses with a new energy and zest
that’s positively addictive. “With the arrangements, I kept thinking ‘If we
were in a stadium with 40,000 people, how would we want to do this?’ We’ve
never had that feeling before. We had to keep asking, ‘does this feel big
enough? Does this feel epic enough? Does this feel passionate enough?’” By the
end of the recording process, the answer to all those questions was a
But that doesn’t mean that Children of God is
without its quieter, more introspective moments too. Phil also beautifully
reworks the ancient “Doxology,” with a new verse and, more importantly, a new
spirit. “These are age old lyrics,” Phil says. “The only thing that’s really
changed is my posture and heart. Just remembering all that God has done. I
didn’t try to reach for something brand new. Simple sentiments became fresh.”
Through the whole process, which Phil says was one
the most collaborative and rewarding recording processes he’s ever had, Children
of God was finally completed. “It expresses where the band’s hearts were
at. We made music we’re excited about and we sung words from our hearts.”
And yes, Phil does sing on the album. Two
weeks into his healing process, the doctors told him they didn’t even see any
scarring on his throat. He didn’t even need to remain silent for the whole
month. He spent some time in vocal
therapy and now, Phil’s voice is back and as good as it ever was. And
his spirit is better than it ever has been. “I felt totally free making this
record,” he says. “I had an awesome time making it. I just feel like I’ve been
That shows on every single song of Children of
God, not only in the words, but in the music, and the heart behind the
songs. Fans of Phil’s music will find the same energy and talent
coursing throughout the album, but they’ll hear something else too. A freedom.
An energy. A confidence. It’s infectious.
It’s what comes from
knowing you’re a child of God.