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Matt Dean: Metanoia, Mercy and Surrender

Author: Andy Drozdziak, CCR Web Editor

Picture: Matt Dean

Matt Dean: Metanoia, Mercy and Surrender

Singer-songwriter Matt Dean asks if we are awake to God 's gift of new life in Christ on his excellent, innovative new album, Metanoia. Andy Drozdziak caught up with Matt in a Zoom conversation to discuss his latest work.

“Adoration and worship-those are the gifts of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, where we have times of worship and we have times where we are literally worshipping God, for God’s sake. It is Spirit-led-that is the beauty of Charismatic Renewal and charismatic worship.”-Matt Dean

Matt Dean is sharing his thoughts on new album Metanoia and enthusing how the Holy Spirit is working through Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Matt is a father of four, based in Kent and works as a technical operator for the BBC. He is on a mission to wake the Church up to the astonishing power and effect of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Matt also believes the gifts of worship and adoration found in Charismatic Renewal are key in helping people navigate the storms and suffering of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Christ died, so we could be lifted up and be called children of God. Christ lives in us. It’s a decision-either we’re growing more and more into Christ or we’re not,” he says.  

Some of the songs on his new album speak of an urgency to live out our baptismal call to be in union with Christ and to share His light and hope. Take, for example, his cover of the Godfrey Birtill song For In Christ, containing the words “It’s scandalous-God raised us up with Jesus” and referencing St Paul’s understanding of hope and faith in Jesus from Philippians 2 and Colossians 2. 

It's a wonderful declaration of finding freedom and life in the love of Christ, and enabling this to spill out to bless others: "Continue all your life to live deep rooted and built up, overflowing/Alive Alive Alive Alive with Christ!"

Creative Influences

Matt’s many and varied creative influences are evident throughout the album. The lovely synth-dominated opener Love No Torrents Drown has echoes of producer Brian Eno (James, U2), whilst the loud, crashing guitars, present in For In Christ and The Joy Song, call to mind Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins.

“I really like the idea that you can have loud music, and really belt it out, but you are offering a bit of hope. It was nice to explore that part of my musical heritage, and represent it in a positive way," he says.

“What was great about this album was I wasn’t trying to sing communal music for a congregational setting. I’ve always been inspired by Kevin Prosch, the music of the heart-always looking to new ways of expressing things musically and  finding new ways to express something holy."

Transformation is a key theme on the album, as shown in the words metanoia, kyrie, surrender and change in his songs. Song of Surrender II repeats the line “when I surrender to Jesus, we become one,” taken from the popular Miracle Hour booklets. Matt believes that faith is not about being perfect, but surrendering to the God who loves us.

“Christ died, so he can come into us,” he says.

“Christianity isn’t a gold standard to work towards; it’s about surrender and letting Christ in, believing in the consequences of Christ’s death and resurrection and what that actually means for us-how we can be transformed into children of God and transformed into Christ.” 

Community And Collaboration In Christ

The importance of community and collaboration is evident throughout Metanoia, with several musicians playing a variety of instruments, including a duduk, synths and organ. There are also some covers on the album. Matt relishes the idea of working alongside different musicians-especially those he knows well.

“I love collaborating with people and bringing each other’s ideas to birth. Some of these collaborations are longer term, such as Katherine Lee, Brother John Bosco, and Joseph Meigh,” he explains. “I will just throw things in front of them and they will do something. Rónán Johnston played on his own song Let’s not go back to Egypt.  It’s wonderful when you know people well-there is a freedom and their playing ability is incredible.”

A good example of this collaboration is found in the aforementioned Song of Surrender -II. “That's not really my song," Matt says. "Ray Travasso, a friend, played all the piano parts-he kept playing-and Ilia Mazya played the duduk part. That was really collaborative.”

Katherine Lee's Take Your Place is a real highlight, showcasing Matt’s gift for heartfelt worship and leading worshippers before the throne of God, whilst declaring the truths of the faith. Katherine’s music and worship will be known to many who have attended the Northern Catholic Conference in Liverpool and the New Dawn Conference in Walsingham.

“Katherine Lee is one of the greatest writers of communal hymns and she has a gorgeous voice,” Matt says. "Take your place-what a song.  I was determined to get that song out there because I think it’s so beautiful. I am a big supporter of Katherine. Her songwriting is amazing.”

Take Your Place is a marvellous closing track, leaving the listener with a desire to surrender to Jesus, and lay all our lives before Him as Lord: “Take Your Place, Take Your Place, Take Your Place, upon Your throne.”

A Cry For The Lord's Mercy

Another honest, raw and powerful reflective song is Kyrie, a cry for the Lord’s mercy and grace in difficulty and containing this moving lyric: “When you hurt the ones you love, you become a stranger to yourself, Kyrie Eleison.” These sentiments will surely resonate with many people who are dealing with brokenness and pain. Matt explains how the song came about.

“It was a real catharsis for me and a graced moment from God," he says.

“I went through a phase of being really angry and difficult to live with. I had become very detached, very broken.  My son held a mirror up to me and he held me to account. I was broken, totally broken. I quickly penned the words and the music came slowly. Songwriting is difficult because I’m so busy-very rarely will I sit and pen a song all at once. I recorded a couple of memos on my phone and added a chorus. The song made me cry. When I first wrote it, I couldn’t get through it without crying -it’s food for me.”

Listen here to Kyrie:

It's an album which is packed with references to quotes from the saints. Take for example, Song of Surrender-I, which contains excerpts from St. Ignatius’ prayer of self-giving : "Take Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, My understanding, my entire will, All that I am, and all that I have.” The vast majority of the song Metanoia, meanwhile, comes from the writings of St. Augustine and the Psalms.

“The Christian music world doesn’t hear enough of the great saints, the giants of faith, the doctors of the church,” he says.

Releasing An Album In The Midst Of A Pandemic

The album, Metanoia, is released at a significant moment-in the midst of a pandemic and in the midst of Lent. A sense of reflection and a call to be free from fear is certainly present. One of the songs, in fact, is entitled Do Not Be Afraid.

Matt is encouraged by worship leader Tim Hughes, who recently quoted a radio interview during the Second World War when William Temple, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “This world can be saved from political chaos and collapse by one thing, and that is the worship of Jesus Christ.” In these similarly uncertain times, the importance of worship cannot be overstated.

“I remember Tim Hughes once saying that what we sing is very important-people will not remember the sermon, but they’ll remember the song. In worship, you’re almost preaching, so lyrics are very important,” he says.

He cites one of his new songs as a way of going deeper in worship with God.

"Song of Surrender II  is all about worship and going into God, because we have to surrender. In these chaotic, uncertain times, we don’t have the things we usually have-we don’t have the community or the congregation. We can offer a different type of worship, focusing on Jesus in the Spirit.”

Matt ends by calling the Church to reflect on how to improve our worship and how we welcome-to be a welcoming, worshipping people of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“As a Church, we have to readdress how we are reaching out to people, to the community and how we are worshipping. I hope we don’t just go back to how it was before. I hope we can find a new way of worshipping and a new way of being.”

A wonderful way of dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic, and of going deeper in Lent,  is to get hold of a copy of Metanoia. Listening to it will boost your faith and help you encounter God in new ways, through quiet worship and energetic praise.

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