When Jesus prayed His now-famous prayer, not only was He the conduit for God’s kingdom on earth in that moment, but He kicked wide the door of heaven to invade our space from that moment on.
His kingdom. Right now. Such a world-shaking concept.
On Oct. 15th, Bryan and Katie Torwalt released their much-anticipated sophomore album, Kingdom Come, a collection of modern worship anthems steeped in full surrender to the wondrous will of God today and forever.
As part of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Jesus Culture, an international ministry that reaches out to youth with music, conferences and events all over the world, the Torwalts exemplify what the movement is all about: young revivalists who, through creative expression, lead others to encounter the power and presence of God in worship. To date, the Jesus Culture Band has recorded nine albums and released a total of 19 projects on its music label, including Kingdom Come.
“Our perspective on worship is that, no matter what, we want to follow the Holy Spirit and leave room for him to do what he wants to do,” says Bryan Torwalt, who picked up a guitar at age 16 and began leading worship in his youth group. “It’s really all about people who are hungry for His presence, desperate for a move of God.”
For Katie Torwalt, a preacher’s daughter who started singing in church at the age of 3 and leading worship as a pre-teen, being part of Jesus Culture has been a life-changing shift in understanding.
“We weren’t raised to look at worship as full access to Jesus all the time," she says. "There was always some pressure to get to a place in worship to take a congregation somewhere. But we’ve learned that we start out having full access to Jesus, being seated with Christ.”
That total access to Jesus—completely known, completely accepted, completely free—in worship and in every aspect of life, provides the undercurrent of Kingdom Come, which draws inspiration from the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.
“We’re constantly inspired by where God leads us in Scripture and by time spent with the Lord out in nature," Bryan Torwalt says. "We’re always trying to grow in our experience of the word of God. ... In terms of songwriting and our message, it’s definitely an extension of [preivous album] Here on Earth. Both albums pull out a little chunk of the Lord’s Prayer and the hope and prayer that God’s kingdom would invade this little space of earth.”
Building on the simple, folk-tinged influence of Heaven on Earth, their 2011 debut, the Torwalts have created a multilayered, ethereal mix of 11 original songs written specifically for corporate worship.
“One of the things I love about Bryan and Katie is their passion to write songs that usher in the presence of God,” says Jeremy Edwardson, who produced both Torwalt records for Jesus Culture Music. “They aren’t interested in entertaining people. They seek a deeper place in worship, and I love taking part in that vision and journey.
“Kingdom Come carries a very powerful and weighty sound throughout. It felt natural to go there as the songs unfolded, considering the lyric content—to take the production further to enhance the emotion and power of the lyric. The result for me is very moving, as it’s the same congregational lyric/melody you’d expect from Bryan and Katie, with a very dynamic, epic sound.”
Thematically contrasting light and darkness, Kingdom Come opens declaring the greatness of God in “He Is the Light” and invites Him to rule in “King of All the Earth.” “Weight of Glory,” inspired by a C.S. Lewis work by the same name, and “When You Walk Into the Room” sing out the power revealed when God shows up in worship:
“We’re really bold with some of our lyrics,” Katie Torwalt says, "but those things really come out of our hearts—freedom and healing and transformation that happens during worship. ... Seeing people declaring the truth of God together over our church, over our city, seeing the supernatural, crazy stuff God is doing in worship, seeing people free and filled with hope ... it’s been life-changing for us. If anything, it’s made us even hungrier for those things. More aware of our need for His presence everyday.”
“Shores,” offered online as a free track prior to the album’s official release, represents the sonic shift, but more importantly it underscores the idea of freedom that results from surrender.
“It started out as a completely different song,” says Katie, whose unique pop sensibilities carry the melody. “But ultimately it’s about what happens when we encounter the love of God, the freedom that takes over, freedom from oppression, sickness, depression. ... It’s a song of releasing those things and declaring hope, a full surrender to freedom.”
Other standouts include the gospel-influenced “Worthy King,” featuring Kim Walker-Smith; “I Will Trust You,” a song of hope specifically for the valley of the shadow of death; and “It Was Finished”:
It was finished on that day/Death was beaten, all darkness was slain/All his passion poured out like rain upon the earth ... Hallelujah.
“There’s so much victory and triumph in singing about Christ’s resurrection,” Katie says of this Easter song, “and I love songs that tell a story. When we were recording it, we were reliving the story of Pentecost, bringing all those elements together.”
“Burn,” the album closer, is a transparent, intimate invitation, Bryan says, describing it as “a prayer, more than anything, for God to come and take control, to burn in my spirit, burn in my soul ... something about the simplicity felt right and natural, a simple invitation for God to come.”
Ultimately, the Torwalts agree that Kingdom Come carries with it the hope that people experience a fresh encounter with God.
“It’s such an incredible gift to be able to lead people in worship,” Bryan Torwalt says, “and we believe God inhabits the praise of His people and that in times of worship, we can experience His presence in a tangible way. We want that for people as they sing these songs, to see another facet of who God is, to experience His love for them in a new way.”