A new voice has emerged in the Catholic music scene with the June 12 release of Awake My Soul, a compilation album produced by Damascus Worship, a Catholic music collective in the same vein as their Protestant counterparts Hillsong Worship and Bethel Worship. Seph Schlueter, just 20 years old, penned four of the album’s 10 songs — including the title track, which National Catholic Register reports has already drawn in over 100,000 listens on Spotify.
In an interview with Judy Roberts, of NCR, Schlueter explained that Damascus Worship, which is a product of the Damascus Catholic Mission Campus, is an attempt to engage a Catholic audience in the same way their Christian contemporaries do, with large, faith driven performances perfectly suited to arena concerts, but catering to a Catholic audience. He told Roberts:
“… All these incredible collectives that are writing songs and releasing inspiring worship reaching millions and millions of people. But there has been no similar collective of Catholic worship artists doing the same. That is, until now.”
On the album, Schlueter impressed us with a voice that sounded seasoned beyond his years.the multi-instrumentalist can be seen playing both guitar and piano for his tracks, as well as recording his vocals. With a natural musical talent, a voice perfectly suited to folk-rock, and the looks of a young Matthew McConaughey, Seph is the real deal with the potential to lead the next generation of Catholic music.
Our favorite of his songs was “We Draw Near,” a tune with a lively rhythm and catchy hook. We especially liked how they used a crowd of voices singing and clapping to give the studio recording a live feel. The music is reminiscent of the popular Mumford and Son folkish style, but with devout Catholic lyrics:
Gathered as one, we are ready for YouCome as You want, You will have our worshipAll that we are is laid here at Your feetWe draw near to the throne roomSinging, Holy is the Lamb of GodAll the saints and angels joiningBe enthroned, oh King of all
Seph explained in the NCR interview that while he had been playing music for much of his life, he only began to compose in earnest after attending the Damascus Catholic Mission summer camp. He said of his songwriting:
“Being a missionary opened me up to God’s heart for his children and just capturing God’s heart: What is God’s heart and how can I sing it into the world? The more I discovered God’s heart as a missionary, the more I started to write from that place. Then the ‘more’ became writing worship music.”
In the end, he added, “It all comes down to revival. It’s not about a name or a brand or a group. It’s about wanting to wake up Christians to live the life that God has called us to, a life of worship and intimacy and mission. That’s what it’s all about.”