The City Harmonic is not your average worship band. For one, the four members based in Hamilton, Ontario, attend different churches. This is why their commitment to expressing unity and bridging gaps is so prominent on their new album, WE ARE.
“We’ve always felt like we’re a little bit different than the typical model of a worship band, and have always sensed that our roots in a cross-denominational movement of church unity has shaped us in very profound ways,” shares bass player Eric Fusilier.
As the churches in their hometown came together, they witnessed the birth of TrueCity, a movement uniting Christians in the region as they met, prayed and helped nonprofits in their blue-collar town. Through this experience, the band formed in 2009.
Having received numerous Canada Covenant Awards, a Juno Award, and a nomination for a Dove Award with previous releases, WE ARE came together with a renewed sense of passion for the band. Penned in group meetings and over Skype, they compared ideas and voted on their favorite pieces before the eventual recording took place in their hometown of Hamilton.
“What you hear on this album, from the choirs and strings to the hand claps and foot stomps, are our friends and family, and people who have been a part of this TrueCity movement across our hometown,” says Fusilier. “Making this record has been a ton of fun and, for us, really feels like the closest we’ve gotten to capturing a sense of who we are as The City Harmonic and who we are called to be as the Church.”
Lead vocalist Elias Dummer says this is their goal with the release: “Ultimately, our prayer is that people and churches would begin to recognize that our insistence on dividing those who call Jesus ‘Lord’ is a tragedy, and that we would do much better to work together and spend our collective body on the world, much like Jesus did, for the love and sake of the world.”
In a collection of tracks that rely heavily on the influence of Scripture and personal experience, the band straddles the sounds of older hymns and guitar-driven worship tracks.
“If we’re going to recognize that we belong to a Body that has stretched across time and space in Jesus, we have to then also recognize that we stand on the shoulders of giants and are tasked with speaking and translating the expressions of our brothers and sisters in the language of the day.”
Finding common ground with each other, the finished product is a sound that encompasses the styles and worship of varying churches.
“We’ve together sought a sense of ‘common tradition’ and have had to look at what we do together as a way of bridging Christian expressions of worship throughout the ages in an indigenous way,” explains Dummer. “If we’re going to recognize that we belong to a body that has stretched across time and space in Jesus, we have to then also recognize that we stand on the shoulders of giants and are tasked with speaking and translating the expressions of our brothers and sisters in the language of the day.”
Cultivating this mission and message of unity privately is also a continual process for the foursome.
“Being in a band is like being in any other relationship. It has all kinds of ups and downs. It’s amazing to be on the road, touring with your friends and making music together, but it’s also difficult to be living with three other guys who are all very different,” says Fusilier. “It’s always been incredibly important to deal with conflict well and to come out the other side with healthy relationships intact. The truth is, every time we fight or disagree, it doesn’t necessarily go so well. But we are all committed to making it right.
“At the end of that day, for us, this whole unity thing hinges on two things: letting our pride go and finding our foundation on Christ,” he continues. “Thankfully, we are rooted in communities back home that really embody those notions, and as we work to remain rooted back home, it helps us to remain in unity.”
Ultimately, it is their foundation of faith and hometown commitment to embodying the Kingdom of God that drives The City Harmonic to become what they sing.
The Church in Hamilton has decided that it is about the Kingdom of God first and not about growing individual churches only,” explains Fusilier. “That attitude has shaped the four of us in ways deeper than we probably even know. Recognizing that what we do as a band is just another avenue of ministry of the body of Christ (both in Hamilton and around the world), means that while we’re gone on the road, we’re living missionally, and when we’re home, we’re living missionally…By the grace of God, we’re still all in this together.”
WE ARE by The City Harmonic will release on Sept. 4 through Integrity Music.