We posed some questions to Matthew Smith (who will be appearing at Refuge in a couple weeks). Here are his responses:
Refuge: Who came up with the name "Indelible Grace" What its the significance of the name?
Matthew Smith: Indelible Grace was the name of our first album, which we later took on as the name of our musical community. It comes from the Augustus Toplady hymn "A Debtor To Mercy Alone,"... which says "My name from the palms of His hands / Eternity will not erase / Impressed on His heart it remains / In marks of indelible grace" In the Old Testament, those who worshiped false gods would often carve the name of their god into their hands with a knife, thinking that the blood would get the god's attention. In contrast, the true God became man and took on wounds to His hands so that we might be healed by them. I love that contrast.
R: Tell me more about Indelible Grace.
MS: I started going to a Bible study in college which was led by Kevin Twit; he had friends who had written new melodies for hymns, and he started collecting old hymnals and doing the same. He would find hymns – typically from 200 or 250 years ago – that would go well with what we were learning and introduce them to us. I was blown away by the lyrics of these hymns – they put Jesus and His love so clearly on display, and my heart responded in worship. Kevin decided to record an album of these hymns; he's not a singer, so he asked several of us who enjoyed singing to be a part of it. We put out the first album independently, and it caught on solely by word of mouth. I started touring shortly after the second album was released and have been traveling around the country representing our little community ever since. We've released eight albums so far, with a ninth one out before the end of the year, and I have recorded my own solo albums of hymns as well.
R: Why are hymns important?
MS: The best of the old hymns have a way of engaging our imagination, intellect, will and emotions all at the same time. Some people say to me "Hymns seems to say so much more than other kinds of songs," and I typically laugh and say "they have more words!" Their form (multiple verses) allows for a narrative that can connect us to a story – our stories and God's story. And many of them also reflect what the Psalms do, which is to invite us to feel everything we feel, but feel it all in God's presence and invite Him to speak into our lives.
R: What do you hope people experience at the concert?
I hope people leave with the beginnings of the hope that Jesus might be more beautiful and more trustworthy than they thought He was. The theme of the concert is Hiding Place, so I'll be talking some about the ways we hide and why, and hopefully inviting people to examine that idea in their own lives. Finally, I'm always thrilled to talk about the ministry of Compassion International, and give people the opportunity to release a child from poverty in Jesus' name.
Please join us for a great night of music at REFUGE: