The Seventh Day is about reflection of God’s glory in Creation, with music and poetry, and giving that back to each other and God and Christ.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the members of “The Seventh Day” group. They have produced a large collection of spiritual music for our community. Their music’s lyrics are incredibly powerful and uplifting. The recordings are high quality so that there are no distractions, which makes it easy to uplifted spiritually to connect with our Heavenly Father in prayer.
“‘The Seventh Day’ is a nonprofit organization, focused on the production and distribution of music projects created by Christadelphian brothers and sisters for both personal meditation and wider use within the community, where suitable. Lyrics are Bible-based, with music that complements the words by giving expression to the many aspects of spiritual life and the challenges of godly living. The current contributors to the music and distribution include James and Charlotte DiLiberto, Phil Rosser, Nathan Coad, Jarrod and Abi Edgecombe, Steph Tappouras, Timon Burney, Luke Jurevicius, Aletheia Burney.”
Why the name The Seventh Day?
PHIL ROSSER: It was really a spur-of-the-moment call. When we look at Creation, we look at God’s creative work, over six days and we have the seventh day which was a day of rest. It wasn’t meant to be a day of rest for His creation; it was a day which His creation would actually do the work of God as Jesus went on to highlight in his ministry.
The seventh day is really a continuation of the idea that God has created so many beautiful things for our enjoyment and to display His glory and The Seventh Day is really the opportunity to reflect that glory and present offerings to Him through praise and worship and creative means. The theme of The Seventh Day is about that reflection of God’s glory in Creation, with music and poetry, and giving that back to each other and God and Christ.
How has the music you’ve produced impacted the worldwide brotherhood so far and what do you hope it will do in the future?
ALETHEIA BURNEY: James uses the phrase “to bridge the head and the heart.” To me, that’s what music does and does really powerfully. It is a communication tool and a storyteller, and not only in the narrative sense either. The story can be a story of heartbreak, of love, of praise, of thanks. It can even be a one-word story, but it still tells that story if it’s doing its job effectively.
Music connects us together as people, and that’s really important.
I think when you bring that into the spiritual realm and into worship music, that’s when it really shows those qualities most powerfully in allowing people to connect to what they’re hearing and what they’re feeling and in both an individual and also in a group setting. It connects us together as people, and that’s really important.
It’s been really important this year since we’ve not been able to be physically together in a lot of parts of the world. Music is something that can connect you and take you back to a certain time in your life powerfully. We all have songs on our timeline, the timelines of our life, that we hear the song, and we are instantly taken back there.
One of the things that have been powerful is the way that some of our songs have integrated into people’s lives. There’s a weird kind of distant intimacy when someone tells you that they made your song into the alarm that they wake up to in the morning! To be ingrained in people’s lives through music is pretty incredible.
It’s a pretty amazing sort of faith builder. Having global impact through music is wonderful.
JAMES DiLIBERTO: I remember the first email I got from an older sister, whom I had never met. She wrote me this email and she said, “I just want to thank you for recording all of this music and putting it out there because you have turned my mundane day-to-day housework into a worship experience.”
I think I forwarded it to everybody and said, “We need to keep doing this.”
When we put out “Children of the Promise” and the “Good News of the Kingdom” finally got out there, I would get text messages and WhatsApp messages, and email messages. I’d have 20 versions of mothers with their phone in the car and recording their children, belting out “Jesus will be King over all of the Earth, glory, hallelujah!”
I remember just thinking how many moms right now are thankful that their kids, instead of singing Playschool and Raffi, are singing about the Kingdom. You now can walk into a camp and you hear someone singing one of Aletheia’s songs with an instrumental arrangement from Timon, with the lyrical tweaking from Phil and the recording and production of Luke.
We never met these people before, and this music is now being used at a Bible School or a Conference. It is definitely humbling. We want resources to be given to our community that don’t have a copyright that doesn’t have to be paid for. We want to provide this resource for the community.
As far as the financials, all this music, and at least up until the last couple of years, was self-funded, any money that we received was used and is still being used. You can go on our website and look at the projects that we support. We actually want this to put music and instruments into the hands of people that are the next generation. So, a lot of the funding has been used for buying equipment.
And we’re also providing mentoring over the last couple of months. We recently ran some online mentoring for a whole bunch of teenagers in Australia. They would come on for two hours at a time, asking, “How do I record? What’s the best piano I should get? Please provide me with some tips. Here are some of my demos. Does this song have any legs?” I guess that’s another big part of what The Seventh Day is doing.
We want to pass it on. [Be]cause that’s what happened to all of us. So now we’re paying it forward. And although we are using some of the funding to increase quality, the vast majority of it goes to other things now.
Do you have a favorite song that has been produced?
PHIL ROSSER: For me, sometimes it’s not even necessarily the song itself. It’s when it was written, the context around when it was written, the things that were going on in our lives and in the lives of others. It was when we recorded it. It was when it was played or done together at an event like a conference or a study week.
music has this unique ability to transport people in time
I think one of the things that Aletheia touched on was that music has this unique ability to transport people in time, back to a moment in a similar way that other senses, like smell, have these really strong attachments to memories… I guess what made this powerful for me personally in songs like “Here at Last,” with Tim on the strings arrangements and how the recordings were done in a couple of different locations with different people.
That song also has a strong connection with the time that I spent in South Africa. So, there are so many different layers of why that song is strong. It has a strong memory for me.
ALETHEIA BURNEY: I think there are moments in the songs where, because we’re not a band and we don’t rehearse, we sort of turn up in the studio in front of a microphone or an instrument and see what happens. A lot of the time the arrangements are happening as we’re doing them. The harmony that you had never thought of before just happens and it makes the song work. Those kinds of points in the various songs are some of my favorite things.
It is the whole experience of making music, from an idea or from a quote or from a life event, through to something that is its own entity in a way. That process is extremely rewarding and inspirational to see it unfolding and to have the privilege and the blessing of having this collaborative circle.
JAMES DiLIBERTO: A lot of my favorites are the ones that are at the ends of the albums and in the nooks and the crannies that aren’t the ones that are sung at the conferences. I guess that’s something that I hope to encourage people. Don’t be a music consumer. Really sink your teeth into what we’re producing. You might just find yourself surprised at how it moves you in your heart.
What would you say to the next generation to encourage them to create, produce, and perform spiritual music?
ALETHEIA BURNEY: You did ask for advice for a younger generation, but there also needs to be space to allow it to happen. So perhaps that’s advice for the people of our age and older generations. Not every song is appropriate for every occasion. Within your ecclesias and within your CYC, whatever it is to allow the opportunity for new music to occur because there is a sort of spiky process of having to learn a song before everyone can sing it.
That’s been a good thing, I guess, about The Seventh Day in providing resources having recorded music. It means that a lot of people more organically get to know it rather than sitting down and being taught or learning or reading off sheet music. Have a place where people can share what they’re feeling through music.
Maybe they’re in compositions or a version of a song and to be open to introducing new music and different types of music. Particularly if it’s a piece that someone has written themselves because they’re giving you a part of themselves by doing that. It’s something that has come from the heart and I think probably, historically, something that I didn’t experience growing up in my sort of ecclesial culture, and that might be different in different parts of the world.
I think that’s an important thing, and that is something that the ecclesia that Tim and I went to when we were sort of in our teenage years and early twenties. They were good at providing occasions when new music could be part of the worship and part of the CYC and something that we could all kind of participate in.
TIMON BURNEY: We had “variety nights” at the ecclesia. I think it was once a month or once a quarter, the format of the public lecture in the evening to be a variety of different mediums on a theme. One Sunday was a themed meeting where there were talks and readings, but they might be a little bit shorter than usual and there’d be more opportunity for music.
More people were asked to contribute things in a more creative way. So, it wasn’t completely scrapping standard ecclesial activities and things or completely radical. It was having the space to focus on a theme and be a bit more creative. It was departing from just the standard “stand and deliver.”
The type of content delivery was very helpful to explore and it required some trust between people to give them a bit of model license. It didn’t end up in any bad experiences. It was very positive.
ALETHEIA BURNEY: I guess advice for a younger generation of people, or just anyone would be to learn to play an instrument. Don’t think that you can’t. I certainly never intended to write a song and didn’t even think about it for a long time. I wasn’t writing songs as a kid or anything like that. Just give it a go. You know the music that you like, and I guess for me, my yardstick of whether it’s a good song or not is if I want to listen to it, even if I’m the only person that ever listens to it.
There are definitely a few songs I’ve written that fall in that category that haven’t yet made their way into the wide world. I think it’s still beneficial. It’s still something. You’ll know that’s it’s a good one or not, and probably your first one isn’t going to be a good one. You can play it to someone, and they might say, “Oh, change this bit. Or how about if you did that?”
And then you find the people around you that you can learn together with them and develop your skills together and then if you get to a point where you want to record something, get in touch with us. We’ll find fun people and you’ll find people in your area as well.
JAMES DiLIBERTO: We’ve tended to be very safe. If I had to give a piece of advice, I’d say it’s very safe to put the Bible to music. That’s very safe. And what I’m seeing in the most powerful songs now that I think are coming out is people are being informed by the Bible, which gives us a structure and a framework and boundaries of where we go.
But when you look at the songs, they swing a lot further in terms of their expression and reaction and honesty to God that has really given us permission to go to some places that we don’t have a lot of music in our community for. Examples would be mourning and being kind of mad at God and not knowing what’s going on.
And we have some songs that are coming out now from some of these new latest sorts of songwriters. And I think that’s a piece of advice I have. I had a lot of them, but I didn’t dare record them and show them to anyone. They were too personal. It was too, too close.
And as Aletheia mentioned, it’s really risky to share because if somebody doesn’t get what you were trying to say, or somebody criticizes it. You feel like that was my heart on a plate that just got crushed. It takes a lot for people to put their feelings out there into our community.
But I think if our community really does try not to be consumeristic like pop music is, and really look for depth and meaning and authenticity, it will help people be able to get that out. More people will find that it’s a very healing process. So, I think being more honest.
My piece of advice for people in writing: Write it, get it out there. Don’t be afraid to put your music out and share it. I think in the company of mentors it will shape.
Interview by Kristin Atwood,
Verdugo Hills, CA