Artist Spotlight: Young Oceans on Advent by Q Ideas

Download a free song from the Young Ocean’s new album ADVENT.

When Young Oceans, the self-described “neo-alternative worship project” out of Trinity Grace Church in New York City, made the decision to create an Advent album, they had no idea just how much they’d be asked to live in the tension of those songs.

After all, waiting and hoping—even in the midst of suffering—is the theme of Advent. And waiting is exactly what Young Oceans had to do.

When Hurricane Sandy hit Brooklyn and the greater New York area, Young Ocean’s Brooklyn studio was directly in the line of the storm. Like so many others, the band lost power, they were unable to commute to the studio, and even had to abandon their producer’s vehicle for a time while everyone scrambled for gasoline. The disaster came in the midst of recording and delayed the process again and again.
Originally conceived as a meditative companion for the Advent season—a shrugging off of expected traditions in favor of an Old Testament perspective of yearning—the scope and meaning of the collection altered and expanded as the band waited and as Trinity Grace Church mobilized to help those affected by the storm. Advent began to take on a new meaning—it became an embodied experience.

Such waiting and meditating paid off though, as the album’s richly interior lyrics and meditative sounds pushed it to #5 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel albums chart within 24 hours of its release.

“From the heartache and sorrow we all experience, to the seemingly endless groans of creation, we are reminded that even we who have the first fruits of the Spirit often experience life as a mystifying narrative.” Eric Marshall, songwriter and worship pastor for the Chelsea parish of Trinity Grace Church, says. “With that in mind, our intent was to present these songs with purity and beauty, but also with an honest representation of the veil we’re peering through.”

With this newfound sense of purpose during the Advent season, Young Oceans has also been posting daily devotional Scriptures on their blog, Facebook and Twitter, hoping to help others absorb the true meaning of the season before Christmas.

“We share this music with humility and expectation, linking our hearts with our Lord Jesus,” Marshall says. “Resting in the wondrous gift of first Advent, waiting, and longing for the second.”

Here, Marshall, tells us why Advent, what the local church means to their music and how they view their music in the larger worship context:

Why Advent? Most artists make a Christmas album, why did you feel more drawn toward the Advent season?

“We love Christmas music, but it seems to so easily slip into a misunderstanding of what we’re celebrating. Christians end up singing about coniferous trees and snow and riding in sleighs. This project is about a holy longing and Advent is the most poignant season of the church calendar for that sentiment. It felt like a strong fit for our sound and song-writing.”

Modern worship does seem to get a bad rap these days. What are you trying to do differently? And, conversely, what traditions are you building on?

“I don’t think we can continue to create rock stars out of worship leaders. That is where we’ve faltered. The early protestant hymn writers were theologians ... men and women who studied the Word for years and years before putting pen to paper. If there’s one thing we hope to build on, it’s that tradition of biblical richness and humility.”

How much of your worship music comes out of your local church experience? Why is that important?

“All of it. I don’t think one can write worship songs without being some type of worship leader. We believe these songs are echoing the cries of our congregations in New York. Somehow, as we focus on providing resources for our little tribe, it’s also a blessing to many others.”

What do you think of when you think, “if people could only know one thing about Young Oceans, this is what I’d want it to be”?

“We truly want people to be drawn into deeper communion with their Creator.”