Sandra McCracken on Psalms, Songwriting and Discipleship

How worship, and the Psalms play a role in spiritual formation.
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What role should worship and the Psalms play in discipleship? In this episode, singer and songwriter Sandra McCracken explores that question with our host, Oliver Hersey. They talk about her new album Patient Kingdom, slated to release in October, 2020. Her new single “I Will Sing,” is based on Psalm 89 which Sandra wrote with Leslie Jordan, who also co-wrote the song “Steadfast” from God’s Highway.

The Psalms, and God’s steadfastness are resounding themes in Sandra’s creative work, and her walk with God. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri — where her mother Betty McCracken taught her to love scripture, and the Psalms.

Sandra said “I had the great gift of a mother who shared scripture with me when I was a little girl. And she had become a Christian just a few years before I was born, and had started following Jesus. So I remember probably from before I knew music, I knew these words of the Psalms. And she would write them on little index cards. I guess I would say it was already taking shape, and that it was more foundational than even learning the notes of a scale.”

You can also watch this interview on YouTube.


What kind of things, do you consider when you’re thinking about God’s faithfulness in your life, and how do you begin thinking about God’s faithfulness in your journey? [4.13 – 7.11]

How does God’s faithfulness play out in music for you? [7.12 – 9.40]

There is something steadying about that, isn’t there? It’s grounding in a way, just to allow the space (for silence in worship). [9.41 – 12.23]

Why Psalm 89 for this song? [12.24 – 14.18]

Your work has been so extensively rooted in the Psalms. How did it happen for you, that the Psalter became a foundation for your songwriting? [14.19 – 16.27]

You use the word steadfast, and you talk about God’s steadfastness. Steadfastness, and faithfulness are very important topics for you. I’m curious why has this become such a prominent theme for you, in the most recent season of life? [16.28 – 19]

How would you finish this sentence? In the process of discipleship, the Psalms can _________. [19.01 – 21.40]

We’re in an interesting time right now, as a nation and as a globe, and we think about the pandemic that’s happening, and the stress and the sharp divides that have happened around that, as well as the things that our country is facing right now. How might the Psalms give us permission to pray in all of these trying circumstances? [21.41 – 24.15]

I’m thinking about the small group leader who’s listening to this episode, and they may be wondering what does music have to do with my small group? How could worship or music play a role in small group settings? What would it look like to incorporate worship in the gathering? [24.16 – 28.49]

What do you as a musician, and a singer-songwriter and you love Jesus. How do you see your work contributing to the process of making disciples? [28.50 – 31.16]

Check out what was referenced on the podcast:

  • Sandra McCracken’s new single, “I Will Sing (Official Audio) - Sandra McCracken,” from the album Patient Kingdom, premiered on June 19, 2020 by Integrity Music
  • Brother Lawrence’s book “The Practice of the Presence of God.” Whitaker House, 1982
  • Music of Taizé, “I Am Sure I Shall See the Goodness of the Lord” from the album Christe Lux Mundi, released on June 20, 2006 by Ateliers et Presses de Taizé

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Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter

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