Zac Hicks – Without Our Aid (cd review)

Zac Hicks – Without Our Aid

When Kevin Twit began engaging his college students at Belmont University in the late 1990’s with the great evangelical hymn texts of Watts, Newton, Cowper, Wesley, etc he never envisioned how this movement would grow…I would bet that he never imagined the day when these fervent texts would win the garb of modern worship!

Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek Pres produce what I call Arena Hymnrock.  I could imagine David Crowder and U2 equally loving this collection of songs and sounds.  It’s creative, uplifting, straight-forward, and rocking!  Zac has crafted this whole record to show us that even through the density of hymn lyrics you can hear a large congregation singing along.

The album not only covers the full breadth of musical styles in modern worship but also leads us through the whole counsel of God in song through the Trinitarian presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  There is a call to worship from the Father, our response of confession, the Word of the Son, the Table of the Son, the ministry and sending of the Spirit, and the call to be salt and light until the Kingdom comes in consummation.

You can find video tutorials, chord charts, lyrics, and lead-sheets HERE.

Here’s a little bit bout Zac that you probably didn’t know…

– Musically astute in both classical and modern worship settings. As at home with the sounds of a 4-rank organ as with the complexities of modern worship technology.  He likes to listen to this on Sunday mornings and this on Sunday evenings.

– Theologically savvy in both his training and weekly pursuits.  Zac deftly balances the roles of assistant pastor as well as worship leader for two different services at Cherry Creek. He spends his days reading things like this and also like this.

– A Network Encourager.  Zac helped to put together this list and has personally reached out to encourage all of these folks!  I met Zac because he found out about this…but I also know that he spends times with guys more likely to be working on this.

You can follow Zac here –>
twitter: @zachicks | Blog: | Facebook  | Church


{Zac has graciously given us one CD to give away. The first person to post and tell me what protestant group Nicholas Von Z helped to found wins!}

SONG LIST: (buy at BandCamp)

1. Sola
words and music by Zac Hicks
note: check out the “sola’s” of the reformation here –

2. All People that on Earth Do Dwell (Psalm 100)
A new tune to this historic hymn text written in the 16th cent by William Kethe.
This is about as ancient/future as you get! Here is a version of the orig Genevan Psalter tune.

3. Angels from the Realms of Glory
Traditional Christmas carol re-tuned by Zac. – words by James Montgomery, 1861
This would be a great song to introduce to a congregation where the music of traditional carols feels stilted compared to the normal musical diet. 

4. Mine Eyes have Seen the Glory
Words by Julia Ward How, 1861.
Zac has given this text a total reworking and rescued it from its old nationalistic connotations.

5. Be All the Glory Thine
words by Joseph Hart, 1762

6. Firm and Unmoved are They (Psalm 125)
lyrics from Isaac Watts, 1912 Psalter
Modern worship and the psalms. a match made in heaven.  

7. Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus
Words by John Bakewell, 1757, alt. Martin Madan, 1760; Augustus Toplady
A traditional Good Friday text for holy week.

8. Jesus, thy Blood and Righteousness
words by Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1739; tr. by John Wesley, 1749.

9. Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Words: 14th century Bohemian Latin Carol; tr. Lyra Davidica, 1708; alt. John Arnold (The Complete Psalmist), 1749.  Another text Zac has re-imagined for us that would be great for special music on Easter.

10. Lord, I Believe (Communion Hymn)
Words: Joseph Hart, ca. 1757-1759
It is difficult to find good communion songs for modern worship. (Justin Taylor link)

11. How Firm a Foundation
Words: John Rippon, 1787; add. lyrics from Psalm 46
Zac rewrote this text in response to a healing in his family.  He deftly weaves a chorus from Psalm 46 into this traditional hymn text.

12. O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright
words: Ambrose of Milan, 4th cent. (with Gloria Patri refrain)
Trinitarian arena rock! And one of the best worship CD closers I have heard.  Amen, Amen, Amen.


10 thoughts on “Zac Hicks – Without Our Aid (cd review)

Add yours

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write a thoughtful, original, and fun review. Thanks for noticing the Trinitarian structure and for the personal juxtapositions/dualisms…I wish I were as cool as you make me sound. It’s all for Christ and His Church.

  2. Great review Bruce! I took you up on your recommendation and bought a copy. I’m so used to more folk-inspired modern hymn arrangments (IG, Red Mountain, etc.), so this album really stands out with a fresh sound.

    I do have reservations on how this “Arena Rock Hymnody” (as you cleverly put it) would play out in most congregations on Sunday morning. Do you think these arrangements call for a volume level and critical mass (i.e. large crowd) that a congregation of under 150 could pull off?


    1. Drew,

      Uninvited, I’ll answer. Bruce may have a different answer. Thanks for the kind words. I DO think there are limitations *in arrangement* of these songs. If you tried to do these songs as they are without volume and critical mass, they would probably not work. Most tracks are layered with at least two electric guitars, heavy drumming, keys, bass, etc. However, in my opinion, most are translatable to other contexts and instrumentations. It just takes a bit of thinking…but I find that most worship leaders are used to adapting. “Angels from the Realms” might be one of the exceptions. I’ve tried myself to jam it into more folk instrumentations and done so unsuccessfully. I hope this helps, but I very much understand the question/concern. The album was written with a very specific target audience…I was attempting to show how hymns might be adapted into the arena worship sector. I know that it has liabilities, and you’ve correctly pointed out one of those. Thanks!


      1. thanks zac. I think the music on your recent CD is a fantastic case study in how the context and use of technology shapes how worship songs function in a particular cong setting (of course all CD’s are really this too!)

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