Composer Michael W. Smith says this world needs more stillness and rest. It’s this reality that inspired his latest project – an album featuring five movements of ambient, soothing music paired with dramatic Scripture readings.
Titled “STILL Vol. 1” this is a project Smith says he’s wanted to do for a long time. Drawn to improvisational piano, Smith explained some of the most spiritually intimate and comforting times have been when he simply plays music and mediates on passages from the Bible.
“There’s so much noise and demands on my life, so I find comfort in sitting down and playing these melodies and improvising. Over the years I’ve thought it would be really cool to quote the [Bible] through a Psalms project and just quote Scripture over these improvised piano pieces that I’ve written,” Smith explained.
Smith noted this is only the beginning of these types of projects, as he hopes to do multiple more volumes because the response to this first release has been tremendously encouraging.
The atmospheric nature of the music brings a calmness, Smith emphasized, and is geared toward individuals and time alone, practicing rest and peace.
“We move so fast. We all battle the demands on our life and on our time and our family. So I just think ‘man, have we gotten this thing wrong?’ We’re not ever really gonna get it right until we are still,” Smith said. “I’ve watched people run themselves into the ground trying to keep the ball rolling and the machine rolling, and I don’t want to be that person.”
“I’m guilty of it, and I think we all are on some level, so I just think that being still and waiting on God and just turning the phone off, brings emotional healing on many levels that we can’t even dream about,” Smith continued. “It brings health to us on a lot of levels and that’s why I think it’s needed.”
With each movement on the record Smith released an instrumental version and a visual component. The videos feature both versions with different landscapes including forests, mountains, coastal views, sunsets and more. Smith noted the moments where he’s also felt a unique stillness have been when surrounded by nature, by the calming aura of towering trees, or the smooth sound of waves crashing against worn-down rocky shores.
The hope, Smith explained, is that listeners would utilize these videos as another opportunity to center themselves, meditate on God, and find their grounding in that peace. He said he envisioned the videos playing on the TV in the background at home, used as a settling presence in otherwise busy moments.
Smith also said he hopes to eventually do a children’s version, specifically created to provide a way for children to hear and learn Scripture.
“I just hope it brings healing to millions of lives. That’s my hope for volume 2 and volume 3,” Smith said. “There’s something about the word being spoken over you, especially the way it is [in this project], that’s a powerful prayer.”