When I (Adam Bannister) first moved to Latin America in the spring of 2021, I knew enough Spanish to survive, but not enough to converse, let alone sing. I attended my local church there, and I often would ask my friend to look up the song for me so I could read the lyrics and try to sing along.
As someone who really loves to sing, especially during worship, I was struggling to engage because I did not know the language. While I am sure the Lord looked down and smiled upon my melodic mutters, I was super frustrated. I knew it would take time to learn the language to the point where I wouldn't have to always translate in my head. However, like most things in my life, I wanted the struggle to end and jump to the part where I can do it effortlessly.
At the end of August of 2021, I moved to Guatemala. I lived there for a year, and half of my time was spent serving as a worship leader. Our team was uniquely diverse, and I served with teammates from Zimbabwe, Switzerland, The United States, and Guatemala. I loved entering into times of worship with my brothers and sisters from all around the world.
As I learned more of the Guatemalan culture and the culture of my teammates, I was challenged in my North American mindset. I conversed with the Lord and wondered, "How can I help people engage in worship when my style is so different from theirs? I like to sing and play songs a certain way during worship, but it doesn’t mean that it must be done this way. How can we all enter in?"
It was during these conversations where the idea for the song “Hallelujah Amen” began. Though I could not engage all aspects of everyone’s cultural style of worship, the one aspect I could include was their language. I was reminded of my own struggle to engage in worship when it wasn't in English, so I wanted to have one song during times of worship that gave everyone the opportunity to sing in their Native tongue.
With the help of my teammates, I was able to translate the words, “God You are good, Hallelujah Amen” into the five languages represented on our team: English, Spanish, French, Shona, and K’iche’.
From the day it was written, we sang the song “Hallelujah Amen” as a benediction at the end of our times of worship. Hearing everyone sing out, “God You are good, Hallelujah Amen” in their native language often brought tears to my eyes. How incredible…to get a glimpse of heaven…where every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship together forever. As we sang, I would often dwell on these thoughts. I would also often teach the song to short-term teams who cam so that we could all sing it together.
During one particular team's visit, I was asked if the song “Hallelujah Amen” could be recorded so that people could stream it and listen to it anywhere. I only wanted to record it if I could get one teammate from each culture to sing on the recording in their Native language. Everyone agreed... with a little bit of begging, and we decided to make a recording of the song!
Like most projects of Songs for Revival, we recorded in our "studio", which was literally a closet with blankets on the doors to sound proof it. When you are living rurally and in missions but still love to create music, you learn to improvise. We also did our best to avoid noisy dirt bikes and the choirs of street dogs that passed us by outside. If you listen closely, you will hear birds singing melodically in the background.
We got everyone recorded on the song, but Sara and I were planning our wedding at the same time so I was not able to finish the editing until the fall when the two of us returned to Guatemala married. Looking back, I am so thankful that the project was delayed! (I say that now, but normally I want every project done yesterday! Hah!) After Sara and I were married, we had some time in the States to share with our friends and family what we were doing in Guatemala.
When I showed people photos of where we lived, I would find myself marveling at the beauty of Guatemala, and this is when I decided that I wanted to record a music video for “Hallelujah Amen”.
For three months, I took video clips of Guatemala on my phone. I wanted to capture a variety of all the incredible sights that God created in this amazing country. Most of the videos were taken in Canillá, the town where we lived.
As you can imagine, it is not easy to coordinate a large group of people to show up to the same place on time (especially in a Latin American culture). However, by the grace of God, I was able to get everyone together to record the music video on Saturday, December 3rd, 2022… and then the rain began.
As I woke up on December 3rd, 2023, I stretched and yawned and listened to the relaxing and soothing sound of a thunder storm…Wait a thunder storm!!! I started to panic. No no no no… Lord… You know we are recording today… it hasn’t rained all week…why is it raining right now? Please let it stop, please let it stop, please let it stop. I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t sure If we should reschedule, or if we should record anyway. I was disappointed because when it rained, the clouds lingered all day and blocked the sunset. I went back and forth, tried to see if people could reschedule, and after much deliberating, we prayed, "Lord, you knew we planned to record on this day. You knew that we wanted a spectacular sunset, and a beautiful day. We know you have heard us, and we will trust You. Whatever display of Your creation You give us today, we will be grateful and know that it is what You would like to show through this project!"
After we prayed, around 4 p.m., we decided to record despite the weather, and the rain continued to pour. We planned to record at 5 p.m as this would give us an hour and fifteen minutes until the sunset. And then something miraculous happened…at 4:30 p.m. the rain stopped!
We all rushed to the top of the hill to prepare to record, and as we sang out, “God You are good, Hallelujah Amen”, the Lord amazed us all. What we thought would be a grey and dreary sunset, turned into a colorful explosion of yellow and orange. The coverage of the clouds gave us perfect lighting to be able to record the video, and the colors of the sunset echoed the beauty of the Lord all around us. I was in awe as we worshipped together in the midst of His creation.
Though we wish you could have all been there to sing with us, we want to invite you to join us in singing for eternity. Ask Jesus, the creator of all. Ask Jesus, the one who drew the beautiful sunset. Ask Jesus, who made each of us who sang the song. Ask Jesus, the one who loves you more than anyone else, to save you, and join us from now until eternity as we sing out in all that we do,
“God You are good, Hallelujah Amen.”