transMission focuses on God’s faithfulness with seventh full-length album release
By: Brad Rowland
The faithfulness of God has been a central tenet for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it comes to the forefront through the lens of transMission’s seventh full-length album, titled “Unfailing God.” The album was released in April 2021, with transMission,The Salvation Army’s contemporary worship outfit in the USA Southern Territory, centering its focus on that faithfulness, even if that was not the dictated plan at the outset of the project.
“We really didn’t start the project saying we were doing a project on faithfulness,” said Chris Hofer, territorial music education production specialist and the group’s drummer. “As we gathered ideas, everything pointed toward that.”
“The Lord never fails in his promises,” said Rachel Wiley, assistant divisional music director for the Georgia Division and vocalist for transMission. “There is never a promise that he will go back on. That is something that we can all stand on and hold when everything else is going wrong or seems crazy. That was something that was big for me when we were working on this, but really just standing on that promise and knowing he won’t fail us.”
The project unfolded in a deliberate way, in part due to the challenges posed by the pandemic itself. The title track, “Unfailing God,” was released as a single in Spring 2020 and accompanied by a lyric video utilized in many Salvation Army locations across the Southeast and the world. “Unfailing God” was co-penned by Wiley and Jeff Cain, a Salvationist friend from Nashville who is also a Grammy Award-winning producer.
In addition to the singles, the album features a transMission staple of reimagining Salvation Army classics into modern day form. Hofer wrote “Faithful (They Need Christ),” which focuses on mental health, and Wiley further contributed with “Spirit, Come.” Joshua Powell, territorial contemporary music specialist and transMission’s lead guitarist and vocalist, wrote “Psalm 98 (Shout With Joy)” and “Beauty of Jesus,” which will be familiar to many.
“We borrowed from a couple of Salvation Army classics considered to be part of our sung theology,” Powell said. “One is from General Albert Orsborn called ‘Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me.’ It is a definitive statement that we want to reflect him to those around us, and we want to do that.”
The 10-song album is more than simply a musical release, however, as transMission strives to provide resources that can be utilized to further the kingdom at-large.
“Everything we do is aimed to be a resource for the field,” said Powell. “To make beautiful music for the kingdom is great for people to listen to and to worship with, but we want it to also be a resource for people to utilize in worship and ministry.”
The songwriting and creative process for the album began with a retreat of sorts in Fall 2019, gathering some of the ideas and focuses that would become the finalized project. The production process was challenging, though, which further entrenched the mindset of focusing on faithfulness.
“All of the themes just kind of led to God’s faithfulness to us, even in a pandemic year when everything seemed so uncertain for much of the process,” said Hofer. “It’s a reminder that, even in uncertain times, our God is faithful, and we need to cling to that, cling to his word, and know that he will come through. I hope people can be encouraged by that reminder.”
With a collaboration and production process stretching over nearly two years, adaptability and flexibility was key, all without relinquishing the central theme. As an example, supporting vocals were gathered in part through mobile phone submissions, allowing for contributions from the field in a way that allowed for depth.
“We ended up focusing on the theme of faithfulness, looking at ways in which we’ve seen God be faithful to us and also examining our faithfulness and how it manifests in our daily lives,” said Powell. “Looking at the role that faithfulness plays in our relationship with God. Him to us. Us to him.”
“We have promises throughout scripture of his provision for us,” Powell continued. “He’s shown himself time and time again. He always comes through. He’s the one who never fails. It’s also important for me to think of the relational aspect. God is faithful to us, but then calls us into a relationship where we are faithful to him as his people. There is a lot of that on the album as well.”
All of transMission’s resources, including charts, lead sheets, multi-track stems, lyric videos and accompaniment tracks, are available for download at the group’s website. “Unfailing God” can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and many other streaming platforms, with physical CDs available through Trade South.