TRAVIS RYAN – You Hold It All
By Lindsay Williams
God provides exactly what we need long before we even realize we need it. As a worship leader, Integrity Music recording artist Travis Ryan generally writes songs with the local church in mind. Yet, on occasion, God gives lyricists words to hide in their own hearts, knowing they’re the ones who most need to hear them. For Travis, God gave him one seemingly insignificant line buried in the first verse of the title track of his EP, You Hold It All (Integrity Music). Little did he know that months later, he and his wife would be clinging to that one line for dear life.
Still, Travis forfeits ownership of his music, insisting he’s only the steward of his songs—most of which he writes directly for his congregation at LifePoint Church, near Nashville, Tenn., where he serves as Worship Pastor. “I don’t consider any song I write my song,” he contends. “When you write a song, I believe that the Lord is already the One who’s singing it. It says in Zephaniah 3:17 He’s the one who’s singing over us. I believe that we’ve got to listen really closely, and then we pen His song.”
Perhaps this philosophy is most evident in the story of “We Believe,” which Travis wrote for his church. The track was recorded by Newsboys and went on to become a No. 1 smash hit at Christian radio, winning a KLOVE Fan Award and earning Travis two Dove Award nominations in the categories “Song of the Year” and “Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year.”
No stranger to Christian music, Travis has opened for everyone from MercyMe, Steven Curtis Chapman and Jeremy Camp to Delirious and Paul Baloche. In addition, as an in-demand songwriter, he’s co-written with some of Christian music’s finest, including Matt Redman, All Sons & Daughters, Phil Wickham and Tim Timmons, among others.
You Hold It All, produced by fellow Integrity writer Michael Farren and arranger Brandon Michael Collins, was recorded live at LifePoint and is a follow-up to Travis’ 2012 debut, Fearless. “The songs really take you on a journey,” he explains. “It’s a set list we’ve done at LifePoint, not once but numerous times. These songs have really become the lifeblood that flows through the veins of our congregation.”
Incidentally, the five-song set also became a source of strength recently for Travis and his wife, Hayley. As he started writing the soaring title track with his brother, Brandon, and fellow writer Jordan Merritt, Travis began to seek out the words for the verses that surround the simple chorus of “You hold it all.” Hayley suggested incorporating a line for friends who were struggling with infertility. “From the womb of the barren…You hold it all” was seamlessly woven into the first verse.
“Months go by, and we’re singing this song, and it’s just radically doing these incredible things in the life of our church,” Travis remembers. “The song started creeping into every person’s circumstance.”
During this time, Hayley discovered that she was expecting their third child. As parents of two boys—Hudson (6) and Jude (4)—they were ecstatic. However, Hayley miscarried. “The first thing I thought was, ‘OK, do I believe that God holds it all?’” Travis confesses. “My wife and I looked at each other and we knew that God gave us that line because He knows the future. He gave us that anchor—a cornerstone—just to walk through that difficult time. God wrote that on our hearts before we even knew we were going to be walking through this season.”
Holding fast to the words they were singing, it wasn’t long before redemption entered their story. “God, in His great goodness and mercy, gave us a ‘rainbow child’,” Travis says, describing a baby who’s born immediately following a miscarriage. Today, the couple and their sons can’t imagine life without baby Scarlett, who just turned one. “Our daughter is a massive part of the whole story of this album,” Travis adds.
This past January, the worship leader once again found himself leaning on his own lyrics when his mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. “These songs were finding us in such deep valleys,” he recalls. After having one-sixth of her brain removed, his mother endured days of follow up treatments and lost 50 percent of her peripheral eyesight. Still, Travis says she’s simply grateful to be alive. “She is praising the Lord more than she has ever praised the Lord; and the testimony of that has been amazing.”
He notes that we all have circumstances in our lives that leave life-changing wounds. “You will get scars. You may limp for the rest of your life like Jacob did,” he offers, “but you will be a testimony to the world around you that God is great; He is mighty, and He is strong. He’s sovereign over everything.”
Poignant ballad “You Are Able,” though originally written nearly four years ago, was another cut that sustained Travis and his family through grief and anxiousness. “This song has been very powerful in the midst of trial,” he shares, adding that our worship should not be determined by the twists and turns of life. “My worship and my praise will not be circumstantial,” he maintains.
Other tracks on You Hold It All reaffirm this belief. “We Believe” sets the tenants of the Church to music. “It’s the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed—it’s just foundationally what we believe as a church,” explains Travis.
“I’m not entitled to any song I write,” he continues. “God doesn’t need me or anyone… But the good news is He wants to use us, and He does… God took that song on a journey, and He has used Newsboys to carry that song around the world.”
On “Forever Holy” Travis takes cues from Revelation and brings a little piece of heaven to earth with reverent overtones and a piano-laced chorus. “It’s this picture of how we are never going to stop singing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty’… The bridge of the song really exposes His holiness, His otherness, His separateness,” he says, then asserts, “As worship leaders, we need to push our people to see the holiness of God.”
The anthemic “Until My Voice Is Gone” was conceived when Travis began reading articles about people across America not engaging in church worship. He began comparing fans’ reactions to seeing their favorite sports teams out on the field to the worship experiences he leads weekly. “When it comes to Sunday morning, we are singing to the greatest Creator, God, who has made the heavens and thought of the earth and breathed it into existence. Why is it that our worship is actually more similar to a funeral than it is to a soccer game?” he observes. “When you see the King of Kings for who He is, you see the worship of heaven happening. Our worship should look the same… I believe the Church isn’t singing because they don’t see Jesus for who He truly is.”
Through the beautiful and tragic circumstances of his own life and the journey God has providentially led him on, Travis knows his God to be steadfast. He only hopes the cuts on You Hold It All stand as a shining testament to His faithfulness. “There’s so much redemption that is yet to be heard through some of these songs,” he predicts, having seen God already use them tremendously in his own life. “At the end of the day, God’s not going to say, ‘Congratulations, Travis, you’ve recorded five albums. Welcome to heaven’,” he concludes. “I hope He says, ‘You were faithful with what I gave you.’ And I believe that He’s given me these songs.”
Story Source: Hoganson Media
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