A few days a ago, when Terry and I were praying together, we began to sing a song written by Dave Fellingham. It was:
“Almighty God , we come to you, we come before your throne.
We enter by a new and living way, in confidence we come…”
We hadn’t sung it for years, but the words came back to us, and the tune, and it seemed so appropriate.
Later as I reflected on it, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for those songs that Dave wrote all those years ago. Back in the 70’s and 80’s Christians were ripe for new expressions of worship. The baptism in the Holy Spirit was like rain on the dry ground of evangelical mainstream churches that had become sterile and rigid, and people were gasping for new life. As they got flooded by the Holy Spirit, fresh desires for worship were awakened and the need grew for new songs. David Fellingham was one of the first to write beautiful new songs at this time. In fact I would say he pioneered a whole new genre.
One of the main features of his songs was that often they were chunks of scripture set to new melodies. This had the excellent effect of helping Christians to absorb truth as they sang. Often the songs were in a new idiom: they seemed complex when Dave introduced them as they were frequently written in different parts for men and women; but once learned they were fun and satisfying to sing, and not difficult at all! The arrangements were innovative and boldly modern at the time. Dave also led the way for a whole raft of instruments to be used as well. At the Downs Bible weeks there was a full orchestra for several years; and later the groups that followed owed a lot of their creativity to Dave’s inspiration.
Of course there were other song writers and worship leaders who began to impact the Christian scene, such as Graham Kendrick, Noel Richards, and Chris Bowater. In America, Integrity music was also greatly instrumental in introducing new songs, sounds and singers. In Australia Hillsongs became hugely influential.
As our church in Brighton, now known as CCK, grew, it became a breeding ground for musicians inspired by Dave Fellingham. It is such a privilege to count among our friends such outstanding worship leaders and song writers as Stuart Townend, Paul Oakley, and the inimitable Phat Fish. Kate and Miles Simmonds (now in Sydney) and Jules Burt, and Simon Brading are also from CCK , and now many others are following on.
Nationally and internationally of course the Christian scene has been so blessed by Matt Redman, Tim Hughes….one could go on and on. Every church you go to has its own worship teams and it is no longer considered new and innovative to be led by musicians playing guitars, drums, violins, trumpets, saxophones, keyboards…you name it!
But I would pay tribute not just to Dave’s amazing musical ability, but to the desire in his heart to express worship to Jesus and to lead others into his presence and enable them also to worship. We owe him a lot. He led the way, motivated by passion and love for God, and truly follows in the footsteps of David the Psalmist, “The man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs.” (2 Samuel 23:1).
Thank you Dave!