Abigail York, a college student pursuing a music career, didn't think she had anything to give the thirsty. But after a few months in Houston as part of a year-long mission program, she found a way to use her voice—and the talents of her housemates/band mates—to give clean water. Inspired by Advent Conspiracy at Ecclesia, the eight friends recorded Abigail's "Sweet River, Flow" and began collecting online tips at Noisetrade—tips they're turning into donations for Living Water. Their sacrifice is sweet music to our ears! Find out from Abigail, below, how it all began.
What brought you to Houston?
I'm in Houston as part of Mission Year, a year-long program that allows young people to live in the city and learn to love God and their neighbors more wholeheartedly. We focus on living simply, pursuing justice, and loving God and people in every way possible.
How did Living Water and Advent Conspiracy inspire this song?
During Advent at Ecclesia we learned a lot about Living Water. But at Mission Year, each of us has to raise our own support, so the idea of donating to other causes isn't a high priority. I had written the lyrics to "Sweet River" in my journal in September before I had any idea Ecclesia would support Living Water, and then tucked them away for three months. But when I rediscovered the song in December, it was kind of hard to miss the connection between the lyrics and what Advent Conspiracy was doing. It didn't take long to realize God was giving us a way to give what we didn't think we had.
Have you ever written another song for a cause? If so, how does the writing process differ for songs of that nature?
I've never intentionally written a song for a cause, mostly because I'm afraid I'll write something emotionally manipulative or something that doesn't actually come from my heart. If I had written a song with Living Water in mind, I probably would have tried to write about something I don't understand—not having access to clean water. Instead, God gave me a song about needing His spiritual refreshment, which my heart understands well. Then He gave me the chance to use the song for a cause!
What inspires you artistically and toward social justice?
Ecclesia has a constant flow of musical artists coming through. I was especially inspired when Sandra McCracken led worship during Advent. She has such an ability to write songs that touch your heart. "Justice Will Roll Down" is a favorite in our house. I think she showed me how catchy and attractive music can talk about social issues. You don't have to choose between a good sound and good subject matter!
What do you hope your songs will accomplish as you continue to develop your recording career?
My favorite thing about writing songs is how your music can become part of a stranger's life. Once a stranger asked for a personalized video of my song "1951" as an anniversary gift to his wife because she loves the song. It blew me away to think about my song being part of that couple's love story. Since realizing that my music can be significant in someone else's life, I've tried to work on writing songs that speak truth and challenge people to think about the world with more love and compassion.