The uncertainties of the past year have forced most of the world to slow down and refocus on what’s important, and that shift ultimately inspired the title of award-winning Christian band MercyMe’s newest album, “inhale (exhale),” set for release April 30.
“One reason we’re calling the album ‘inhale (exhale)’ is we all just want to sit back for a second and take a deep breath and be like, ‘Okay this is what matters. This is what matters,’” said Bart Millard, lead vocalist for MercyMe.
The new album was a long time in coming together, Millard said.
“It was two years and one month to the day that we started writing for this new record until we finally finished,” Millard said. “We would have had it done a year or so ago, but when the pandemic hit, it slowed everything down. We practically rewrote the album two or three different times.”
‘A rallying cry’
The first single off the new album, “Almost Home,” has been out since October 2019. Millard describes the song as “kind of a rallying cry to just remind us to keep running the race … to keep going. Heaven is just around the bend. We’re almost home and now is not the time to give up or tap out.”
The album also features “Hurry Up And Wait,” a song released last May. Millard said the song “reminds us that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”
Other tracks include the buoyant “A Little Love” featuring Gary LeVox, lead vocalist for award-winning country super group Rascal Flatts. Disco legend Gloria Gaynor, who won a Grammy in 2020 for Best Roots Gospel Album for “Testimony,” lends her signature vocals to “Brand New.”
The album also features “Say I Won’t,” a powerful song inspired by the story of Gary Miracle, who worked with the band for many years on the road. Miracle contracted an infection and lost both arms and legs in January 2020 after falling into septic shock.
The song’s lyrics share Miracle’s profound faith in the face of tragedy: “I’m gonna run/ No, I’m gonna fly/ I’m gonna know what it means to live/ And not just be alive. … I can do all things/ Through Christ who gives me strength/ So keep on saying I won’t/ And I’ll keep proving you wrong.”
The music video for “Say I Won’t” debuted in December and has more than 2 million views on YouTube so far.
The video begins with Miracle introducing himself and continues with powerful images and videos that trace his long journey through hospitalization and intense rehab to resume life with his family.
The video captures vulnerable and victorious moments, including watching Miracle put on his prosthetic arms for the first time, relearning to write and declaring that he will walk again.
The lyrics and images capture the depths of Miracle’s suffering while shining light on God’s ability to turn any tragedy into a stunning victory through perseverance, Millard said.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming to see Gary’s situation,” Millard told Fox News in an interview the day the video debuted on the network. “But to watch his wife and kids … what they’re going through and standing by and supporting him is mind-blowing — it feels like it’s a whole other level of love.”
MercyMe released a lyric video March 26 for another song on the album, “On Our Way,” which features Millard’s son Sam Wesley.
Like other songs on the album, the lyrics to “On Our Way” point to Jesus and the security and hope found in Him: “There’s no fear that can bind you/ There’s nowhere hope won’t find you/ As long as we have hope/ We have everything we need/ We’re on our way.”
“I’m grateful that messages like that seem to resonate with people on a consistent basis because there is hope in that, and if they can still get fired up about what’s to come then not all is lost,” Millard said.
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