The roots of the ANB stretch back over a decade. I began working on the full-time staff at Monadnock Bible Conference, a small Christian camp in southern NH, in the year 2000. While it was never what the camp primarily paid me to do, I loved leading worship and so when we had youth programs I would serve as the worship leader.
With this opportunity I began to invite other young people with developing gifts as musicians to join me. To say it was unpolished is generous, but in the midst of our learning a sincere and beautiful culture of worship was deepened at the camp. In these years two regular members of the rotation of volunteer musicians were Jonathan Mason and Joel Rousseau. It is an honor to still serve with these men today.
As each season of the camp calendar turned I would try to write a handful of songs to give our community a unique expression. Many of the songs never lasted beyond one camp week. For some, that may have been too long. If you search the Internet long and hard enough you might be able to score an “Arise: Volume 1 CD” with the classic “Soak Up the Sonshine.” I once saw one on E-bay for $1.50 (plus S&H).
One song from this chapter of our lives that resonated far beyond the walls of the camp chapel is “Lifted High.” Even to this day one of the most meaningful lyrics God has ever inspired through our pen is “may the matchless Name of Jesus be the anthem of our lives.” For a generation of students who we served and helped view worship as more than just singing, this was their mission statement.
We never had a distribution strategy. We had a rough recording of a room full of beginner musicians accompanied by students singing their hearts out. The song instead traveled in the guitar cases of college students. It traveled out of a monthly worship night we hosted that gathered local churches.
We received an email from France telling about how the song was being sung at a school. A large Catholic youth gathering in Missouri used “Lifted High” as a theme song. And as the band changed and grew slowly over time into what we now call the ANB, this song has helped remind us of our uncompromising vision to serve the church through writing rich songs of worship.
When we started planning to record our first full length “Nashville” album in 2011 with producer Mitch Dane, we agreed that this should be the first song we record. “Lifted High” was the perfect title for that project as a way to tie the past to the present and continue the work God has called us to do.