The genesis of Leeland’s new album City of God came from their desire to fearlessly explore a pastoral and prophetic voice of worship where songs are sung together and over the people of God. The 11 new songs are centered around the thematic of Psalm 46 through thoughtful and innovative songwriting. Recorded in a live rehearsal room with no audience but special guest artists including TAYA, Charity Gayle, Rita Springer, Vanessa Hill, and Lauren Strahm (Fleurie), an expansive soundscape is captured on each of the new songs. City of God unpacks three layers of the project’s foundational Scripture in songs of hope for the midst of trouble, songs of intimacy and safety, and songs of God’s justice. Initially sparked in the chaos of the pandemic, the inspiration is for it to be a prophetic oeuvre making space for meditation. It also captures the profound power of art to invite people inside a divine world brought alive through music, pushing conversations around artistic pursuit forward within the Church.
“This album started with old testament stories and a piano in my living room,” frontman Leeland Mooring says. “[Through stories], God began to show me, whether it was Moses in Egypt, Noah and the ark, or Daniel in Babylon, that God always had a redemptive plan in the midst of great darkness.”
What started as an exercise of hope began to manifest itself out as short story songs and parable-like music that wasn’t something Leeland recognized as corporate worship at first, but more as something that would be sung over the body of Christ: “That’s what God released us to do,” Mooring continues, “He spoke to Casey and I and said, ‘This time I want you to sing over my people, not just with them.’”
The album’s title refers to the Church, the people of God that make up his coming Kingdom and dwelling place in society here and now, pointing to the hope of the heavenly Jerusalem. “Though culture may look like a modern Babylon crying, ‘Let us make for ourselves a tower and a name in the heavens,’ we cry as Daniel, ‘Lord, let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!’” Mooring adds.
Leeland infuse beauty and truth into the culture through their new project, re-telling stories of old with sharp creative flair. They embody a priestly and innovative dynamic as City of God strikes the balance between a conceptual album and a trailblazing, congregational source of new songs for the Church of today. They hope these new songs will inspire the people of God back to the treasures of Scriptures and the mysteries of God’s ways. “We pray this album helps open a new window into the glory of God; that we would get a vision of Jesus and hear him say ‘fear not, stand up and let me show you the things that are to come,’” Mooring concludes.