I've been leading worship for 25 years, and
been a part of the worship fraternity, in total, 30 years.
It began with what I believe was a call from
God. I started to lead worship in my local church, and
began playing in the Graham Kendrick band. This led me to working
with Kingsway Music and Integrity Music, Ron Kenoly, and many
worship leaders of the day.
One of the people who thought of praise
and worship as a concept with an economy behind it was
Graham Kendrick, in the early '90s; but I was leading worship songs
in my local church long before that.
Praise and worship is our response to the revelation of
Jesus in our hearts and lives. It's quite easy to go: "I
love Jesus, and whatever I do is for Jesus," but Romans 12 is one
of the most poignant scriptures about worship: "Present your bodies
as a living sacrifice." It's an Abrahamic model where sacrifice is
needed for worship. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, and our
response is that we surrender our lives for him, as he surrendered
his life for us.
Music is the soundtrack of someone's spiritual
Many of the high churches - Roman Catholic and
Anglican - assign music to a music director. But we think of
leading music as a calling, living our daily lives in that
I'm actually from a Pentecostal church, but
I've travelled round the world leading music in lots of different
churches and models.
The growth of this industry began in the Charismatic
Church movement in the '60s and early '70s. It mushroomed
into a worldwide force. We found leaders embracing another person
rather than a system: one person whose role in the church was to
teach and lead worship.
Various models exist for worship leaders. Most
of them who are prominent in the worship world are musicians, but
Pentecostal models tend to be around vocals and singing. The
strength in the Charismatic and Evangelical traditions is
song-writing rather than singing and musicianship. Many young
people can play a few chords and sing a bit, with so much music
about. Leading Pentecostal worship demands a lot more gifting.
Each model has its strengths and weaknesses,
but nobody can worship God beyond the revelation you have of Jesus:
that is the primary function of worship. And we tackle the subjects
of sickness, religion, adoration, joy, dance, justice.
We present what we are good at to God.
Evangelical white churches don't normally clap hands to a song;
Pentecostal churches tend to be more rhythmic. None of it is wrong:
we choose what fits our style and expression. Because I'm black,
people assume I'm going to dance and clap hands, and I do; but
that's not all I do. All of it has to come from a true
understanding of the revelation of Jesus. If it's not based in
that, then it's weak.
I've just been to China. There are 1.2 million
born-again Christians there. I went along with the Bible Society to
find out what we in the Western Church could do to make the Bible
accessible to millions of Christians there.
It's absolutely incredible - they're passionate
about Jesus, and the things of God, but don't have access to
information and knowledge. It's amazing: in the places people don't
have information, people are passionate. People here wake up on a
Sunday morning and think: "Oh, I don't think I'll bother. . ."
Chinese Christians know worship can be taken away, and they are
passionate to worship.
The Chinese would sing "Amazing Grace", and
they understand that it's grace that saves them; so it's very
powerful. And they have their own Chinese songs and melodies.
Singing is a big part of their worship. Some are English
translations, but many are their own as well. They speak of God's
truth, love, grace, and power to heal.
My album Devoted has been voted the best Gospel
Album of 2014 by Christian Resources Together, the
equivalent of Dove awards. All the Christian music industry in the
UK voted in a category with the likes of international artists
Israel Houghton and Oslo Gospel Choir.
It's also won the Jump 2014 award for Best
Praise and Worship video for the single "Devoted", and Prosperity
Awards 2014 for my contribution to UK Praise and Worship.
All these awards are special to me, because
they mean someone was thinking of me. I really enjoy the CRT award
as it's the industry in the UK coming together to nominate and
award you for your contribution to the UK music landscape.
Ultimately, God inspires my music. But I love
listening and playing all styles of music, from rock to reggae, and
everything in between.
Although I grew up in church, I asked God to
never let me forget the power of the cross to save mankind. True
worship begins at the cross.
As singers, we're narrators of the Christian
walk. Every experience we have in the earth, whether
negative or positive, is an opportunity for us to bring the creator
of heaven into our experience. An attitude of worship, an act of
faith in his word, is all we need to navigate the issues of this
I grew up in the cosmopolitan '60s and '70s in
London, an amazing city - a melting pot of cultures and people. I
was heavily influenced by all that London presented at that time,
and lived it out through the eyes of Black Pentecostalism, having
grown up in a church with Caribbean and American roots.
My father taught me to play music when I was six years
old, but I quickly infused all the sounds and cultures I
was hearing, brought them into my musical palate, and used them in
my local church.
I'm married to Tanya, and we have four grown-up
children between us.
I love football and support God's team:
Liverpool. And I like laugh-out-loud films and games.
We've visited many nations, and like so many;
so if I said I like all the world, it's true. Its diversity gives
me pleasure, and I love to explore this incredible creation. I'm
really inspired by that, seeing people live out their lives.
I really believe all of us are connected through
Jesus. It's just the expression that we differ in, and
which often separates us as Christians. You can't expect a
classically trained musician to live out their faith in a jazz way
- we live it out according to what we know. Theology thinks
differently, but in worship we share a common ground. We sing the
same songs and we can meet in them, from the choirboys singing in
the cathedrals to someone with bongo drums in a house-group.
I'd love to leave a legacy of the power of Christ to a
generation, and be the best husband to my wife, and father
to my children.
My father and my brothers and sisters have influenced me
in my life, and a whole host of incredible spiritual
people who have prayed for me to be everything that I am today.
They have stood in the gaps, and, when I was broken, they helped
bring healing. They helped me to walk, and encouraged me in my
life, stood with me through thick and thin. I'm a product of all
those people who spoke or did a deed to make my life be what it is.
My wife, Tanya, has helped me in an inspirational and spiritual way
to believe the call of God.
I enjoy the Bible and its stories that empower;
so any book that has been written from it inspires me. I also love
science fiction, and have a great love of DC and Marvel comics.
I pray for the world to know Jesus, and that I
can fulfil the small part I have been called to. I pray for family
I'd choose to be locked in a church with Tanya
Robinson, King David, and a whole host of incredible
musicians from past and present, and have a zamar moment
(that's to make music in praise of God) with our instruments. And,
of course, Jesus would be there, and we'd ask him what he loves to
hear, and then create for him.
Noel Robinson was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.
Devoted is available on iTunes, and re-vived.com.