On August 31, Christian supergroup Casting Crowns releases its latest offering: Until the Whole World Hears… Live. The CD/DVD combo package showcases the most recent tour of the band which made an unprecedented entrance into the Christian music market six years ago.
With 4.5 million album sales, a Grammy Award, an American Music Award, and nearly two dozen Gospel Music Association Dove Awards to its credit, Casting Crowns, led by frontman and youth pastor Mark Hall, refused to sit on its laurels and produced an inspiring collection of songs that is once again designed to refresh and rejuvenate the church crowd. In this set, the audio disc features eight of the original 12 offerings performed live.
The DVD trails the band on tour to promote the original CD release and was filmed at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina, and the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
While the concert is fun to watch and Hall relates some great stories from stage, the real treats are hidden in the special features.
An inside look at the madness and mayhem that go on when you take a couple dozen people on the road (including a passel of children) is afforded in the clips “Laser Tag” and “Cornhole.” “Our New Drummer” provides an introduction to the band’s newest member, Brian Scoggin. There’s a segment devoted to the folks who pull off the production of a Crowns’ experience, aptly titled “The Crew.”
A poignant piece chronicles Mark and Melanie Hall’s family through a 3 1/2 year journey to adopt their fourth child, Meeka Hope. It runs neck-and-neck as my favorite special feature with the music video for “Until the Whole World Hears.”
Band footage was filmed atop a 20-story building in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s powerful and poignant – especially as throngs of people are seemingly attracted to the call to “sing until the whole world hears.” The ending of the song, originally recorded in Hall’s home church of Eagles Landing First Baptist in McDonough, Georgia, during a regular Sunday morning service, gets special treatment in the video.
The band solicited churches and youth groups to send in videos of people singing the song’s concluding lines, which consist simply of ‘whoa-whoa, we’ll sing until the whole world hears,” repeated. The response was overwhelming, and a varied selection made it into the final cut. While there are several American participants, groups from Kenya, Singapore, Guatemala, and Brazil are included as well.
“Check out the group from Israel,” lead singer Mark Hall told his students on a recent Wednesday night when he uncharacteristically previewed the new video. “Look behind them. You can see the Dome of the Rock in the distance. Way cool.”
Yes, Hall really does talk like that, with expressions common to high school hallways. Maybe that’s because, when he’s off the road, he continues to be an on-site youth pastor pouring into the teenagers at his home church.
He typically does not sing Crowns music at the church, however. This is not where he performs, but this is most definitely where his songs are birthed.
“We’re really still a youth praise band,” Hall says. “All our songs come from this place. They are a reflection of what we see going on here in the church.”
In the case of “Until the Whole World Hears,” Hall’s stimulus came from his mentor Roger Glidewell, the executive director of The Institute for Global Youth Studies in north Georgia. For years, in his letters and emails, Glidewell always closed with that instructional phrase and the citation for Matthew 24:14. With a long-held heart for sharing the gospel, Hall penned the chart-climbing song and turned a simple line into an anthem currently being sung, literally, around the world.
The life lessons and experiences Hall has walked through with his students not only influence his songs, but his sermons. A true “bonus” feature of the DVD is a special five-part teaching series where Hall delves into the scriptures that support his life views. He speaks with a deep seated wisdom that reflects a man on his own personal journey with God.
It’s a transparency shared by his bandmates, all youth workers as well, and their love for God ignites the emotional performances of this live set.
If you like to listen to Casting Crowns on the radio, you’ll love Until the Whole World Hears….Live.