“I guess it’s a percussion instrument,” surmised lead singer Chris The inspirational-worship band Rend Collective has introduced many of its fans to a musical oddity called a “jingling johnny.”Llewellyn during a recent phone interview.
“But it has a string attached, a bicycle horn and other noisy things,” he added of the strange looking contraption – just one of many traditional instruments used by the Irish born-and-bred music group.
The pole-shaped jingling johnny is played by pounding it on the floor and occasionally banging it with a stick. (See it in action at during a performance of their song “Build Your Kingdom Here” online.)
Also added to their folk-pop-alternative musical mix: the Irish pennywhistle, ukulele, mandolin, toy xylophone and other rarities. And they’re bringing them all to their Sept. 25 concert in Sunshine Community Church in Grand Rapids Township.
Whatever the instrumentation, the songs are worship-based, said the singer-songwriter.
“Worship is one way to define it, but we often use the word celebration,” Llewellyn noted. “Sometimes ‘worship’ can conjure up the image that it’s only for religious people. But I think everyone can respond to varying degrees in celebration for what God has done – depending on how much they know Jesus.”
THE CELEBRATION WAY
Rend Collective’s new album, “The Art of Celebration,” springs from that theme. Curiously, Llewellyn said many of the songs were written during a period when the band was struggling with the business and other distractions of their craft.
“What gave us insight to the heart of God was that ‘seriousness’ is not a fruit of the spirit, but joy is,” he said.
“Joy” is the title of one of their new songs. It’s a buoyant tune which points to celebration as a choice – to turn toward joy and away from discouragement or disillusionment.
“Worship is always a joy because we always have a reason to sing,” he offered.
“That’s another call to celebrate even in the midst of struggle because there’s something there really beautiful for us.”
The Rend crew showcased several of the new songs during an August performance at the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon, and Llewellyn recalls a joyously responsive crowd.
“It’s always a bit of a celebration whenever you involved Irish people in things,” he chuckled.
The band features a married couple, Gareth and Ali Gilkeson, among its members.
THE ROAD OF REND
The band developed out of a Bible study and prayer group (called Rend) of mostly college-age young adults in Bangor, Ireland. Llewellyn was the worship leader.
After five years of Bible study and doing evangelistic missions, they decided they would write and perform music about their experience in their faith-led community.
“We’d learned to be a family and to be church together, and ‘collective’ summed that up nicely,” he explained.
The original name of the band was Rend Collective Experiment. They officially dropped the “Experiment” in the past year, but Llewellyn said they’re still experimenting. “I guess faith is experimental in that it’s stepping into the unknown and trusting God to lead us.”
Their first studio album (in 2010) was titled “Organic Family Hymnal.”
The singer-songwriter’s father was a Christian musician from Australia who met Chris’s mother on a tour of Ireland. They were involved in Youth For Christ. Chris came to faith at the age of 17.
“The church took me in and I started leading worship and I met Gareth and became part of Rend,” he recalled.
The Irish band has performed extensively in the U.S., including tours with Kari Jobe and Chris Tomlin. “We’ve been on the road so much that it’s hard to remember where our home is,” Llewellyn noted.
Actually, their state-side headquarters is Atlanta where the band is part of the Passion City Church led by pastor-author Louie Giglio and also where Tomlin is among the worship leaders.
Tomlin co-wrote the Rend song “Immeasurably More.”
“We have a home church (in Ireland) a lot of us attend and we have Passion City. So we’re lucky that way.”
Their signature song remains, “Build Your Kingdom Here,” an anthemic prayer for God to move among his people in pursuit of his kingdom. The song has been showing up in contemporary church worship across the country.
“It’s overwhelming to think that one of your songs has a life beyond the band,” said the artist. “We do write all our songs in the hope that the church can get a hold of them, and those are the things that make a song special for us.”
Just the Facts:
CONCERT: Rend Collective: The Art of Celebration Tour, with special guests Urban Rescue and Moriah Peters.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thurs. Sept. 25
WHERE: Sunshine Community Church, 3300 E. Beltline NE.
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