Next Article in Journal
The Preacher as Artist: An Exploration of Sermon Creation as Art-Making
Next Article in Special Issue
“I Thought It Was Beautiful; I Just Wish I Could Understand It”: The Awkward Dance of Multilingual Worship
Previous Article in Journal
Two Contemplation Models of Nāmamātra in the Yogācāra Literature
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Music of the Silent Exodus: Nunchi Bwa-ing and Christian Musicking in a Second-Generation Asian American Church
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore

H. Leng Toh
Daniel Thornton
School of Arts and Business, Alphacrucis University College, Parramatta, NSW 2124, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2024, 15(5), 603;
Submission received: 11 March 2024 / Revised: 7 May 2024 / Accepted: 7 May 2024 / Published: 13 May 2024
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multilingualism in Religious Musical Practice)


This article explores the way in which love is understood and expressed through the original English lyrics of songs by New Creation Church Singapore (NCC) in comparison to the original songs from Hillsong Church Australia (Hillsong) through the period of 2014–2020. While NCC has a multilingual congregation, reflective of the larger Singaporean society, it composes and releases original contemporary congregational songs (CCS) with English lyrics. English is the primary language in Singapore; however, it is shaped by the languages spoken in homes (e.g., Mandarin, Malay, Tamil). Combined with the theological emphases of NCC, its CCS provide a unique lens into English as a common language of worship. This article demonstrates that while the use of English lyrics is a unifying force for multilingual congregational worship, it is also not benign, but actively shaping Christian confession and associated theology and being shaped by wider multilingual contexts.

1. Introduction

The theme of love has universal prominence within the lyrics of contemporary congregational songs (Thornton 2021, p. 154). While most articles in this special edition will likely focus on multilingual worship, we wanted to consider a slightly different perspective, that of multilingual worshipers and multilingual contemporary congregational song writers even when an ostensibly common language (English) is used for gathered musical worship. As such, this article undertakes a comparative analysis of the lyrical expressions of love in the original contemporary congregation songs (CCS) of two megachurches, one with a multilingual congregation in the multilingual context of Singapore, the other in the predominantly monolingual (English-speaking) culture of Australia.
The data consist of CCS produced by New Creation Church Singapore (NCC) and Hillsong Church Australia (Hillsong) during the period from 2014 to 2020. This analytical exploration hypothesises that although both NCC’s and Hillsong’s lyrical compositions are written in English, their expressions of divine love and divine–human love are nuanced. This divergence emerges as a consequence of both lingual and cultural differences and theological distinctions embedded in these megachurches. As such, this study endeavours to shed light on the multifaceted interplay between language, culture, and theology through a comparison of these producers’ CCS.
English, the shared language chosen for CCS by both NCC and Hillsong, serves as a unifying force during congregational worship, enabling worshipers from diverse linguistic backgrounds to engage in collective devotion. However, the utilisation of English in worship is not innocuous. Because NCC’s and Hillsong’s lyrical contents are moulded by their respective cultural and theological milieus, their songs contribute reciprocally to the shaping of beliefs and confessions within their respective congregations and beyond. “Love” may appear with the same spelling and syntax in the original song lyrics of these two churches, but as we will demonstrate, they are not identical.
Singapore, as a heterogeneous nation with a rich cultural and ethnic diversity, employs the English language as its principal mode of communication within crucial spheres of society, including the educational and economic domains. Within the context of NCC, the coexistence of English and Chinese in different church services reflects the divergent linguistic backgrounds of its congregants. Singapore’s bilingual education system ensures that a substantial portion of the population is educated bilingually, with proficiency in both English and a mother tongue language, which includes Mandarin among the Chinese-speaking population (Chew 2017). While NCC caters to this linguistic diversity by offering services in both English and Chinese, the significant representation of English-speaking congregants within the church community underscores the strong influence of English in shared communication.
New Creation Church began in a Singapore flat in 1983 with twenty-five members (Chong 2015). Over four decades, it has grown into an independent megachurch, currently gathering more than 33,000 congregants, according to its website.1 Central to its identity is a vibrant Pentecostal ethos led by its renowned senior pastor, Joseph Prince, since 1997. Prince’s teaching on the ‘gospel of grace’ has propelled NCC to become one of Singapore’s largest independent churches. It has also attracted considerable critique. Chong (2015), who studies the Singapore megachurch phenomenon, suggests that their rapid growth stems from their adeptness at embracing contemporary culture. He highlights societal and economic factors, noting their “appeal to upwardly mobile” individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, effectively attracting emergent middle-class Singaporeans. Similarly, Goh argues that Prince’s message is that “prosperity is not just a sign of God’s grace, but is grace itself” (Goh 2018, p. 187). He goes on to argue that the church’s five core values situate the church in a “client-centric mold”, or in other words, are firmly aimed at satiating a popular culture and mass consumption market (Goh 2018, p. 193). Such an approach has direct implications for the original songs NCC produces and employs in congregational worship.
In a survey conducted by Chong and Hui, exploring the receptiveness of non-Christian Singaporeans to the topic of ‘God’s love’, they found unanimously positive responses based on four different Christian groups (Chong and Hui 2013). Living in a multi-cultural society with government advocacy for religious harmony, Singaporeans are apparently receptive to the ‘message of God’s love’. Thus, songs expressing God’s love for humanity, which are under examination in this paper, should not only be seen as relevant texts for worship, but also as evangelistic tools for the broader community.
The worship team of NCC, known as New Creation Worship (NCW), embraces English as the primary language for its CCS. This choice allows them to reach a wider audience and effectively convey their gospel messages through a common language. However, NCC’s English lyrics are not entirely divorced from the linguistic backdrop of the songwriters, as they bear the influence of other languages (mother tongues) spoken in their households, such as Mandarin for the Chinese, and other vernacular languages according to ethnicity. As such, understanding the use of the English term “love”, in NCC’s original CCS, benefits from multilingual contextualization. Hillsong’s songwriters, on the other hand, are primarily native English speakers and writers.
As mentioned earlier, language is not the only factor influencing the songwriters’ lyrical creations. The songwriters’ theological understanding and orientation also contribute to the way they write about Christian concepts such as love. For example, although NCC shares the core theological tenets of Christianity with Hillsong, it places a strong emphasis on divine love and grace, and the unmerited favour of God for the believers’ spiritual transformation. This perspective of love is consistently interwoven into NCC’s CCS lyrics. As we will demonstrate, love, as conveyed in NCC’s lyrics, tends to revolve around the interpersonal relationship with the divine, accentuating God’s transformative capacity in the realm of the believers’ daily lives. Only in one instance does the use of “love” allude to the believers’ love for God in NCC’s CCS.
Hillsong, an internationally renowned entity in the realm of worship music, boasts a substantial repertoire of original songs that resonate with Christian audiences worldwide. Similar to NCC, Hillsong’s CCS also feature the theme of love (Thornton 2021, p. 154). However, Hillsong’s approach to love transcends the individual and extends to encompass a broader collective of not only the body of believers but also creation itself. As the analysis will bear out, God’s love exemplified by Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross serves as a unifying force for the church, culminating in the collective act of worship.
In summary, the original lyrics of NCC and Hillsong reflect the distinctive cultural-lingual and theological foundations of each entity, influencing their portrayals of love. As English serves as a common language of worship, it unites worshipers from diverse linguistic backgrounds, fostering a sense of inclusivity and collective devotion. Nevertheless, language is not a neutral medium; rather, it actively shapes and is impacted by the broader contexts in which it operates. In certain contexts, English may be a constant reminder of historical colonialism, with all that it entails for individuals or communities. At the same time, for songwriters at NCC, the choice of writing English lyrics is an act of empowerment, uniting congregants with common language for the purpose of worshiping God, and potentially impacting other churches globally who also worship in English.

2. Literature

Contemporary congregational songs, whether by intention or not, are theological constructions, despite some scholars remaining unconvinced (Ruth 2021, p. 11). They reflect a writer’s understanding of God, themselves, the church, the nature of worship, and other phenomena. Furthermore, writers “put words in the mouths of Christians who sing their songs” (Thornton 2021, p. 147). As such, the theology expressed through their lyrics has an impact on those that sing them and listen to them repeatedly. Despite the fact that “hundreds of millions of Christians sing CCS” (Thornton 2021, p. 2), studies examining the sung theology of the contemporary church are still lacking. The following section selectively traces the scholarship that informs the present study.
Examining the contemporary English CCS writing in North America, Ruth notes that there has been a shift towards a conversational style in the lyrics. This transformation involves the integration of “lexical and grammatical features associated with conversation, such as first-person pronouns and contractions” (Ruth 2015). This style identified as a “drift or colloquialisation of written English” brings the written language closer to a spoken form (Ruth 2015). How this conversational shift in CCS writing impacts theological transmission is incorporated into the analysis below. However, it is worth noting here that this deliberate effort by songwriters to create a sense of intimacy and relatability with their lyrics potentially enhances both the songs’ accessibility and emotional impact on worshiping congregants. The embedded theology is then not objective or formal but personal and applied.
Studies of Hillsong’s music by both Evans (2015, p. 183) and Cowan (2017, p. 93) suggest the presence of a generalised theology in their songs to cater for the global Christian market. However, this does not mean that a discernible theological orientation is absent. Riches’ analysis of Hillsong’s repertoire from the period 1996 to 2007 provides a comprehensive analysis of the theme of love (Riches 2010). The first aspect identified is “the immutable characteristic of God as Spirit”, which Riches relates to the unchanging nature of God’s love for humanity. This facet of love highlights God’s central role in empowering believers. The second aspect Riches identifies is “love as human emotion”, articulating this as a powerful and emotive experience within the human heart. The third aspect is a “response to the cross”, which delves into how love is portrayed in relation to Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. The fourth and final aspect focuses on “the believer’s love for God” (Riches 2010). Riches’ findings are informative to this study, although they are from a previous era of CCS production by Hillsong. The comparative element of this study brings Riches’ work into dialogue with more recent releases from Hillsong and the theological similarities and differences between NCC and Hillsong.

3. Methods and Questions

The methodological design for this study employs both quantitative and qualitative elements. The quantitative approach involves a systematic count of the term “love” in the corpora of both megachurches. These numbers reflect the prominence of the theme within their songs, both individually and as a corpus. They also provide a clear comparison of the degree to which this theme is present in the respective producer’s songs. However, the quantitative analysis alone is insufficient to illuminate the theological nuances of the lyrical content. Therefore, a complementary qualitative analysis is also undertaken. It includes an exploration of employed metaphors and the use of direct or paraphrased scriptures. It includes a division of the overall theme into directional elements of the term:
  • Divine love: songs emphasising the nature and unchanging characteristics of God’s love.
  • Divine–human love: songs depicting God’s love for humanity, particularly in relation to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and sometimes implicating the reciprocal love between the believer and God.
  • Human love: songs portraying love as a personal emotional experience within the human heart, and, in the context of worship, as a response to divine love.
Finally, the qualitative analysis explores the grammatical structures surrounding the term. For example, love is expressed as both a noun and a verb. Divine love, as a noun, is further classified by its accompanying adjectives, either descriptive (e.g., love unstoppable) or comparative (e.g., your love is better). Divine–human love is also explored in terms of its participial adjectives, and how love is presented and reciprocated—whether as a transformative force, empowering love, a symbol of grace and forgiveness, or a motivator for spiritual growth. Such analysis provides insight into the theological perspectives associated with the expression of love, as well as the way in which the English language is approached by writers in their respective settings.
The data collection process involved the selection of twenty-five songs from each of NCC’s and Hillsong’s corpora between 2014 and 2020. The compilation of their lyrics was obtained from official websites and through listening to the songs on Spotify to identify any discrepancies between published and performed lyrics. NCC’s corpus was taken from its three albums produced during that period. As an established global Christian music producer, Hillsong has released many more songs/albums than NCC. Therefore, Hillsong’s selection was drawn from Christian Copyright Licensing International’s “Top 2000 Australia Bi-yearly Payouts” report. The selection criteria involved identifying the twenty-five songs produced by Hillsong that were popularly utilised/reported between 2014 and 2020. The list of NCC’s corpus with its composers appears in Appendix A, and Hillsong’s corpus in Appendix B.

4. Findings

How do the original written song lyrics by New Creation Church Singapore (NCC) and Hillsong Church Australia (Hillsong) in the period of 2014–2020 differ in their expressions of love? Table 1 and Table 2 provide a summary of the song titles with their respective lyrical expressions of love, the song location, and the frequency of the term. Twenty-one out of NCC’s twenty-five CCS (84%) contain the theme of love with a total of 122 instances. In comparison, 19 out of Hillsong’s 25 CCS (76%) contained the theme, with a more modest 76 instances in total. The term “love” is evidently more prominent within NCC’s lyrics than Hillsong’s.
The following discussion of the analysis is divided into subsections based on the term’s grammatical structure (verb and noun). The noun form of “love” also subdivides into the two adjectival categories outlined earlier.

4.1. Verb Form

Four songs in NCC’s corpus express love in the verb form:
  • “Forgiven Much” emphasises “Dearly loved” as the acknowledgment of God’s love as a sacrificial offering on behalf of the human agent.
  • “I Surrender”, in the verse, contains the simple but perennial divine truth, “You love me”.
  • “I Will Follow After You” consists of three phrases: “I will love You”, “And I will love You”, and “For You love me all my life”, with two references to human love and an additional reference to the reciprocal nature of divine–human love. This is a fairly clear personal rendering of 1 John 4:19.
  • “For You So Loved Me” uses the title phrase “For You so loved me” to reference John 3:16.
Hillsong’s three songs with the verb form of love are
  • “God So Loved”, which uses “For God so loved the world”, divine love reflective again of John 3:16;
  • “So Will I”, which contains “If You gave Your life to love them”, points to the sacrificial love of Jesus for human beings;
  • “Awake My Soul”, which uses “There is a sound I love to hear” referring to human love which longs for a tangible encounter of God’s presence.

4.2. Noun Form

Most CCS use the noun “love” with possessive adjectives, such as “Your love” or “His love”, and are typically references to divine love. NCC’s CCS convey divine love using the second-person pronoun, “Your love”, a total of 71 times, and only one instance of a third-person pronoun, “His love”. However, Hillsong uses significantly fewer second-person pronouns, “Your love” (36 instances), and more instances (11) of the third-person pronoun, “His love”. Put another way, NCC has sixteen songs with “Your love” and only one song with “His love”. In comparison, Hillsong uses “Your love” in ten songs and “His love” in five songs. Here are just a few examples of possessive adjectives in both corpora:
  • NCC’s “Hearts On Fire” conveys divine love as “Your love’s changing my world”, and “Anthem Of Grace” uses “In Your love there is no fear”, a clear reference to 1 Jn 4:18. To convey the sufficiency of divine love, NCC’s “Sweeter Than Wine” states, “Your love is all I need”.
  • Hillsong uses “In Your love I’m complete” (in “This Is Living”) and “’Cause Your love is all I want” (in “You Are My Life”) to focus on the sufficiency of divine love.
In previous research, the songs employing the second- and third-person pronouns were overwhelmingly “directed to Jesus” and not other members of the Godhead (Thornton 2021, p. 209). The findings of this analysis largely align with previous research, although Hillsong’s “Behold” is an interesting case, as it emphasises all three persons of the Godhead with possessive adjectives.
NCC’s and Hillsong’s corpora also contain numerous love lyrics in common noun form. Some examples include
  • “Your weight of love” in “Sons And Daughters” (NCC);
  • “Hearts arise to the name of love” in “Grace Revolution (NCC);
  • “I can see the love in Your eyes” in “Broken Vessels” (Hillsong);
  • “Love will never lose its power” in “I Will Boast In Christ” (Hillsong).
Some examples of poetic expressions of divine love in NCC’s CCS include
  • “Whisper love that words can’t fathom” in “Wonderful” (NCC). The use of “whisper” and “words can’t fathom” creates a sense of mystery and evokes a visceral picture;
  • “Eyes brimmed with love” in “Shadow Of Grace”;
  • “Stand upon Your love unshakeable” in “All Of You”;
  • Personifications of love in “For You So Loved Me”, including “How Your love has seized my heart” and “How Your love will not depart”.
Such poetic techniques invite worshipers to explore and contemplate the theological concept of love through symbolism and emotional resonance.
Hillsong’s examples of poetic expressions of love include
  • “Forever young in Your love” in “This Is Living”;
  • “Forever strong in Your love” in “In God We Trust”;
  • “All I want is to live within Your love” in “Touch Of Heaven”;
  • Adjacent contrasting language in the phrase “The righteous died for love” in the second verse of “Behold”;
  • “designed in a work of art called love” in “So Will I”. This particular CCS is full of poetical lyric constructions.

4.3. Divine Love Adjectives

Both NCC and Hillsong employ descriptive adjectives. Here is a sample of divine love descriptive adjectives in both corpora:
  • NCC’s “Grace Revolution” describes divine love as “Love unstoppable” contrasting with Hillsong’s more poetic rendering of the phrase, “Your love is like the wildest ocean” in the chorus of “Love So Great”.
  • The greatness of divine love is quite commonly expressed. NCC uses the phrase, “To the greatness of Your love” within the chorus of “I Surrender”, while Hillsong uses, “Your love so great” in the verse of “Love So Great”. Additionally, the phrases “His great love” and “How great Your love” are found in the verse and chorus of Hillsong’s “Behold”.
  • This “Perfect love has won my heart” is found in NCC’s “Letting Go” and the phrase can also be found in Hillsong’s “This Is Living”—“Your perfect love”. The contrast here, though not explicit in the lyrics, is with the imperfect love of humanity.
  • The strength of God’s love can be found in both corpora. NCC articulates “To a love so strong” in the song “I Surrender”. Hillsong’s “Forever strong in Your love”, on the other hand, focuses on the human recipient of divine love in the song “In God We Trust”.
  • NCC’s songs “Sweeter Than Wine” and “Forgiven Much” employ the phrase “Your unending love”, while Hillsong’s “No Other Name” uses the expression “boundless as His love”. Both churches convey God’s immeasurable love using such descriptive adjectives.
  • God’s “faithful love” in NCC’s “Refuge”, and “lavish love” and “torrential love” in “Your Lavish Love” also fit the qualitative category of descriptions for his love.
Comparative adjectives are less common, although employed more frequently by Hillsong than NCC. Some examples include
  • Hillsong’s “What A Beautiful Name”, contrasting the enormity of sin with divine love by stating, “My sin was great, Your love was greater”. Similarly, NCC employs comparative adjectives, proclaiming God’s love as “better than life” and “sweeter than wine”, emphasising its surpassing nature over life and earthly pleasures.
  • Hillsong’s “Behold” uses the phrase “What compares to his great love”. While not a comparative adjective per se, the phrase essentially states, “Nothing compares to God’s love, because it’s greater/better than any other love”.

4.4. Divine–Human Love Adjectives

Certain CCS lyrics incorporate participial adjectives reminding us that God’s love is not an abstract concept, but an applied divine characteristic to humanity that invites or invokes a response.
  • NCC has three songs that reference divine–human love and human participation in divine transformation. “Hearts On Fire” consists of two phrases, “hearts arise to the name of love” and “Your love’s changing my heart”. “For You So Loved Me” utilises the phrase, “trusting in Your love”, and “Letting Go” uses “Resting in Your love”.
  • Hillsong’s “Touch Of Heaven” utilises “Your love is calling me upward”, which is not a common phrase, but a familiar sentiment for Christians, and probably a reference to Philippians 3:14. “This Is Living Now” contains “In Your love I’m complete” and focuses on the divine–human relationship that denotes the dependency of the human agent on divine love.
Divine love and divine–human love are the overwhelming categories of love expressed in the lyrics of CCS from both NCC and Hillsong. The only exceptions are NCC’s “I Will Follow After You” and Hillsong’s “Awake My Soul”. That more expressions of human love are not present in the lyrics suggests that writers are conscious of the purpose and focus of worship: that it is predominantly for the One worshipped and not for the worshipper. In Hillsong’s case, it may be that songs without human love lyrics are more palatable to churches at large and hence they appeared in the CCLI reports upon which their corpus was selected.

5. Conclusions

The term “love” is the most frequent keyword found in both NCC’s and Hillsong’s corpora. Their CCS use possessive adjectives (“Your” and “His”) to convey divine love for humanity. They also convey divine love using descriptive and comparative adjectives to feature the qualities or characteristics of love. When expressing divine–human love, participial adjectives are added to invite and implicate human participation in God’s transformation process. The usage of the second-person (Your) and third-person pronouns (His) is observed in both corpora, although Hillsong uses “His love” more (11 instances) compared to NCC (1 instance).
There is a difference in the poetic style of NCC’s and Hillsong’s CCS. NCC employs more adjectives than Hillsong (122 instances versus 76 instances). While there are some common adjectives describing the magnitude of God’s love such as “perfect”, “great”, and “strong”, NCC employs additional descriptive language such as “relentless”, “lavish”, and “torrential” for expressing divine love. Hillsong’s CCS, on the other hand, tend to use less flowery English. The reason could be, as Cowan argued, that Hillsong is more focused on its “complexly layered, sonically rich instrumentation” while maintaining a “simplistic” lyrical text (Cowan 2017, p. 97). Both Evans (2015, p. 183) and Cowan (2017, p. 78) observe that Hillsong has a “generalist” approach to theology in their lyrics, as also supported by this research. However, is there also something within the Asian culture of Singapore that leans more towards the embellishment of adjectives within lyrics?
Another observation by Cowan is that Hillsong’s “love” expression usage occurred in almost every song examined from 2007 to 2015 (Cowan 2017, p. 91). However, that is not reflected in Hillsong’s corpus during the study period of 2014–2020. Nevertheless, there is still a significant number of NCC’s 21 songs and Hillsong’s 19 songs out of each twenty-five-song corpus that place a strong emphasis on love.
Though the salvific language of Christ’s love through his atoning death is found in numerous songs in both NCC’s and Hillsong’s corpora, they portray divine love differently. NCC’s “Anthem Of Grace” and “Forgiven Much” show a greater emphasis on God’s grace and mercy, and the believer’s transformation found in Christ’s sacrifice; whereas Hillsong’s “Calvary”, “O Praise His Name”, and “I Will Boast In Christ” put a greater emphasis on Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, without necessarily directly linking those to the present life of the believer.
Cultural, theological, and lingual nuances can be observed in the original lyrics of worship songs from NCC and Hillsong. NCC’s love seems to have a greater emphasis on divine love, using possessive adjectives such as “Your love” to convey a believer’s personal and intimate relationship with God. While Singaporean culture is more communal than (Caucasian) Australian culture, there is a cultural emphasis on individual agency, and in this case on an individual’s direct and intimate connection with the divine. If Australian culture is arguably more individualistic, Hillsong’s songs use references to divine love to invoke more of a sense of community and shared faith. It is an interesting finding from this limited study that a more communal culture should seek to express a more individual faith, and a more individualistic culture should seek to express a more communal faith.
The choice of possessive adjectives also indicates a difference in the theological perspective between the two producers. NCC’s overwhelming use of “Your love” suggests a strong belief in a relationship with God that is personal and direct. Hillsong’s usage, however, reflects more of a balance between a personal connection with God and the acknowledgement of God’s transcendence.
The poetic expressions of divine love in the songs also reflect cultural differences. NCC’s love is more mystical, emotional, and intimate, employing phrases such as “Whisper love that words can’t fathom”, “Eyes brimmed with love”, and “Your weight of love”. Hillsong’s poetic expressions are just as emotive, but often less personal and more overarching, such as “forever young in Your love, and “designed in a work of art called love”.
Cultural, theological, and linguistic differences between the Singaporean and Australian megachurches evidently affect how they understand and articulate love in the context of their original contemporary congregational songs. However, it should be reiterated that this study did not include all of Hillsong’s CCS output in the given period. It is possible that Hillsong songs, less popular with Christendom at large and therefore less reported to CCLI, contain more emotive and personal language relating to divine and human love. The parameters of this paper did not allow for an analysis of all Hillsong CCS from 2014 to 2020, although this would be a valuable and complementary scholarly endeavour. Additionally, there is no way to know if these songs were equally employed in worship setlists of these respective churches’ services. It may be that certain songs with particular ways of framing divine or human love resonate with the respective congregations much more than others. If so, then the presence of love lyrics may need to be further nuanced to reflect congregants’ resonance with those songs and, thus, their understanding of love.
Hypothetically, native English speakers might be more adept at using colloquial expressions, wordplay, and creative metaphors to convey their messages effectively. However, that conclusion is not evident from this research. Colloquialisms may be more evident in Hillsong’s corpus, but poetic mastery seems to be more evident in the lyrics of NCC.
In conclusion, we have argued that there is a discernible difference between Australian-English “love” and Singaporean-English “love” in CCS lyrics. In regards to “musical caring” through multilingual worship, several questions remain (Myrick 2021). Is “musical caring” something reflected in the nuanced English expressions of love for the respective congregations in Singapore and Australia? Does English as a common language for worship hamper or enhance a multilingual congregation’s worship experience? What impact does it have on the particular congregation of New Creation Church? More study is needed but, considering the size and influence of New Creation Church Singapore, their original English-lyric worship songs will continue to be written, released, and employed for congregational worship. Scholarly examination, as we have undertaken here, sheds light on the use of English language lyrics in multilingual worship contexts and on multilingual contemporary congregational songwriters.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, H.L.T. and D.T.; methodology, H.L.T. and D.T.; formal analysis, H.L.T.; writing—original draft preparation, H.L.T.; writing—review and editing, D.T.; supervision, D.T. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

These data were derived from the following resources available in the public domain: New Creation Worship— (accessed on 6 May 2024), Hillsong Lyrics— (accessed on 6 May 2024), Christian Copyright Licensing International Song Select— (accessed on 6 May 2024).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A

Table A1. New Creation Church Corpus.
Table A1. New Creation Church Corpus.
NumberAnthem of Grace Album (2015)Composers
1Grace RevolutionBrendon Seeto, KC Gan
2Hearts On FireSean Goh
3Anthem of GraceBrendon Seeto, KC Gan
4Sweeter than WineElaine Fung, Sean Goh
5RefugeKaren Lim
6Forgiven MuchKaren Lim
7RestoreBrendon Seeto, KC Gan
8FinishedJosiah Lim, Karen Lim
9I SurrenderKaren Lim
10I Will Follow After YouBenjamin Lim, KC Gan
NumberEncounter Album (2017)Composers
11Sons & DaughtersJen Tan, Joseph Yong, KC Gan
12Love Burns BrightDaniel Chong, Edwin Wong, Eli Ordonez, Joseph Yong, Melissa Tal Jasuratna, Nicholas Zach Jasuratna
13Wonderful (Grace Made Real)Jen Tan, KC Gan
14Shadow Of GraceJen Tan, Jilian Har, KC Gan
15All Of YouEliah Leong, Jen Tan, KC Gan, Melissa Tal Jasuratna, Nicholas Zach Jasuratna
16For You So Loved MeCaleb Lim, Karen Lim
17SkyEdwin Wong, Eli Ordonez, Joseph Yong
18Letting GoJen Tan, Karen Lim, KC Gan
NumberAs He Is So Are We Album (2020)Composers
19Give Me This MountainElaine Fung, Eli Ordonez, KC Gan
20As He Is, So Are WeJen Tan, Karen Lim, KC Gan
21SupplyJoseph Yong, Karen Lim
22Your Lavish LoveKaren Lim
23YHVHElaine Fung, Evangeline Ang, KC Gan, Silas Hwang
24Trust In the LordElaine Fung, Evangeline Ang, KC Gan, Silas Hwang
25For My GoodJosiah Lim, Karen Lim, Sean Goh

Appendix B

Table A2. Hillsong Church Corpus.
Table A2. Hillsong Church Corpus.
NumberNo Other Name Album (2014)Composers
1This I BelieveMatthew Crocker, Ben Fielding
2Broken VesselsJoel Houston, Jonas Myrin
3No Other NameJoel Houston, Jonas Myrin
4This Is LivingJoel Davies, Aodhan King
5CalvaryReuben Morgan
NumberOpen Heaven/River Wild Album (2015) Composers
6O Praise The Name (Anastasis)Ben Hasting, Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson
7In God We Trust Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan, Eric Liljero
NumberLet There Be Light Album (2016) Composers
8What A Beautiful Name Ben Fielding, Brooke Ligertwood
9I Will Boast In Christ Scott Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan
10Love So Great Reuben Morgan, Jamie Snell, Joshua Grimmett
11Look To The Son Matthew Crocker, Joel Houston, Scott Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan, Marty Sampson
12CrownsScott Groom, Ben Hastings, Michael Fatkin
13Behold Joel Houston
NumberThere Is More Album (2017) Composers
14Who You Say I AmJoel Houston
15New WineBrooke Ligertwood
16God So LovedMatt Crocker, Marty Sampson
17So Will IJoel Houston, Ben Hastings, Michael Fatkin
18You Are My LifeMichael Guy Chislett, Scott Ligertwood, Aodhan King, Ben Tan
19Good Grace Joel Houston
20The PassionScott Ligertwood, Brooke Ligertwood, Chris Davenport
21Touch Of HeavenAodan King, Michael Fatkin, Hannah Hobbs
NumberPeople Album 2018 Composers
22Another In The FireChrist Devonport, Joel Houston
NumberAwake Album 2019 Composers
23King Of Kings Jason Ingram, Brooke Ligertwood, Scott Ligertwood
24Awake My Soul Brooke Ligertwood
25See The Light Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan


1 (accessed on 6 May 2024).


  1. Chew, Phyllis Ghim-Lian. 2017. Remaking Singapore: Language, Culture, and Identity in a Globalized World. In Language Policy, Culture, and Identity in Asian Contexts. Edited by Amy B. M. Tsui and James W. Tollefson. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
  2. Chong, Terence. 2015. Megachurches in Singapore: The Faith of an Emergent Middle Class. Pacific Affairs 88: 215–35. Available online: (accessed on 30 January 2024). [CrossRef]
  3. Chong, Terence, and Yew-Foong Hui. 2013. Different Under God: A Survey of Church-Going Protestants in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. [Google Scholar]
  4. Cowan, Nelson. 2017. ‘Heaven and Earth Collide’: Hillsong Music’s Evolving Theological Emphases. Pneuma 39: 78–104. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Evans, Mark. 2015. Hillsong Abroad: Tracing the Songlines of Contemporary Pentecostal Music. In The Spirit of Praise: Music and Worship in Global Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. Edited by Monique Ingalls and Amos Yong. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, pp. 179–96. [Google Scholar]
  6. Goh, Daniel P. S. 2018. Grace, Megachurches, and the Christian Prince in Singapore. In Pentecostal Megachurches in Southeast Asia: Negotiating Class, Consumption and the Nation. Edited by Terence Chong. Singapore: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, pp. 181–206. [Google Scholar]
  7. Myrick, Nathan. 2021. Music for Others: Care, Justice, and Relational Ethics in Christian Music. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  8. Riches, Tanya. 2010. The Evolving Theological Emphasis of Hillsong Worship (1996–2007). Australasian Pentecostal Studies 13: 87–133. Available online: (accessed on 30 January 2024).
  9. Ruth, Lester. 2015. How ‘Pop’ Are the New Worship Songs? Investigating the Levels of Popular Cultural Influence on Contemporary Worship Music. Global Forum on Arts and Christian Faith 3. Available online: (accessed on 30 January 2024).
  10. Ruth, Lester. 2021. In Case You Don’t Have a Case: Reflections on Methods for Studying Congregation Song in Liturgical History. In Studying Congregational Music: Key Issues, Methods, and Theoretical Perspectives. Edited by Monique Ingalls, Andrew Mall and Jeffers Engelhardt. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 11–24. [Google Scholar]
  11. Thornton, Daniel. 2021. Meaning-Making in the Contemporary Congregational Song Genre, 1st ed. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Table 1. New Creation Church’s Expressions of Love.
Table 1. New Creation Church’s Expressions of Love.
NCC Song TitlesLocationLove ExpressionInstances
1. Grace RevolutionVerse 1Love unstoppable1
ChorusHearts arise to the name of love4
ChorusYour love is a grace revolution4
2. Hearts On FireChorusYour love’s changing my heart4
3. Anthem Of GraceVerse 1In Your love there is no fear1
4. Sweeter Than Wine Verse 1By Your unending love 1
ChorusYour love is better than life4
ChorusYour love is all I need 4
5. Refuge Verse 1In the presence of Your love 1
Verse 2For Your faithful love endures 1
6. Forgiven Much ChorusBy Your unending love 5
ChorusFor Your love will never fail5
Verse 3Dearly loved1
7. Restore Verse 1Your love has won my salvation1
Verse 2Embraced in love by the Father 1
8. FinishedVerse 1Your love for me will never fade1
Verse 1Relentless love pursued my soul1
9. I SurrenderVerse 1You love me as I am1
ChorusTo a love so strong2
ChorusTo the greatness of Your love2
10. I Will Follow After YouVerse 2I will love You all my life2
Verse 4And I will love You1
Verse 4For You love me all my life1
11. Sons & DaughtersVerse 2Your weight of love2
ChorusStand in the light of Your love3
12. Love Burns BrightChorusLove burns bright18
Verse 1Your love the only light3
13. Wonderful (Grace Made Real)Verse 1Whisper love that words can’t fathom1
ChorusO how wonderful Your love for me5
14. Shadow Of GraceVerse 1Eyes brimmed with love1
15. All Of YouVerse 1Stand upon Your love unshakeable3
16. For You So Loved MeVerse 1For You so loved me/For You so loved2
Verse 2For You so loved me/For You so loved2
Chorus How Your love has seized my heart6
Chorus Oh, Your love will not depart6
Verse 3For You so loved me/For You so loved2
BridgeTrusting in Your love2
Verse 4For You so loved me/For You so loved2
17 Letting GoVerse 1Perfect love has won my heart1
Verse 2Resting in Your love2
18. Give Me This MountainVerse 1Your love is calling me onwards1
19. As He Is, So Are WeVerse 1His love has rescued me1
20. SupplyVerse 2I will drink of Your love1
21. Your Lavish LoveChorus 1I am caught in Your lavish love3
Chorus 2I’m immersed in torrential love2
BridgeLove died for me4
Total 122
Table 2. Hillsong Church’s Expressions of Love.
Table 2. Hillsong Church’s Expressions of Love.
Hillsong Song TitlesLocationLove ExpressionInstances
1. Broken VesselsChorusOh I can see the love in Your eyes5
2. No Other NameVerse 2As boundless as His love 1
3. This Is LivingVerse 2Forever young in Your love 1
Verse 3In Your love I’m complete 1
ChorusIt’s Your perfect love that sees me soar2
4. In God We TrustBridgeForever strong in Your love 2
5. What A Beautiful Name Verse 2My sin was great Your love was greater 1
6. I Will Boast In ChristVerse 1Love will never lose its power 1
7. Love So GreatVerse 1Your love so great1
ChorusYour love is like the wildest ocean 7
8. Look To The SonChorusSee the image of love4
Pre-ChorusLove reaching out for us4
Verse 2There’s no fear in love1
9. CrownsChorusThan just to know His love 4
10. BeholdVerse 1What compares to His great love 1
Verse 2The righteous died for love1
ChorusHow great Your love is10
11. Who You Say I AmVerse 1Oh His love for me 2
12. God So LovedChorusFor God so loved the world4
Verse 1For His love has salvaged me1
Verse 1For His love has set me free1
13. So Will IChorusDesigned in a work of art called love1
ChorusIf You gave Your life to love them 1
14. You Are My LifePre-ChorusIn Your love You are life2
Post-Chorus‘Cause Your love is all I want now2
BridgeFor all the world to find Your love1
15. Good GraceChorusGod is madly in love with you2
16. The PassionVerse 1Of the measure of His love1
BridgeTo honour this love 3
17. Touch Of HeavenChorusAll I want is to live within Your love 4
Verse 2In Your love and affection 1
18. King Of KingsVerse 4For the love of Jesus Christ 1
19. Awake My SoulVerse 1There is a sound I love to hear 2
Total 76
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Toh, H.L.; Thornton, D. Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore. Religions 2024, 15, 603.

AMA Style

Toh HL, Thornton D. Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore. Religions. 2024; 15(5):603.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Toh, H. Leng, and Daniel Thornton. 2024. "Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore" Religions 15, no. 5: 603.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop