We got the chance to sit down with Geron Davis and Tyler Brinson, the co-creators of the brand new release, Splendor of Heaven featuring the choir of First Baptist Cleveland. Geron and Tyler share about the process of putting this compelling collection together, the heart behind the songs, and how this project speaks to the glory of Christ’s eternal promise for all believers.
Where did the idea for this project start?
Geron Davis: I worked with Tyler’s dad about 25 ago years ago, so I’ve known Tyler since he was a kid. He came up through Voices [of Lee] and was on staff at Prestonwood in Dallas…He came to back to be Worship Pastor at First Baptist Cleveland, and he called me and said, “I want to do a project.” We went to sing at First Baptist and their choir and music program was just kicking. So he said, “I want to do a project, and I want to do it with you,” and I said I’d love to.
We started the whole process, and we took probably a year and a half at least picking songs. I’ve been a minister in music, and I’ve done a lot of projects with Brentwood Benson. I was a worship pastor and Tyler is a worship pastor, and the bottom line behind this project was we wanted to do a project that could really touch the hearts of people at a wide variety of places and demographics.
Tyler Brinson: It’s been such a blessing to serve at First Baptist Cleveland for about four and a half years now. The Lord is just moving in a mighty way at our church. The choir has tripled since the four and a half years that I’ve been there, so it’s amazing to see what God has been doing. We have about 160 plus voices now. I’ve grown up listening to Geron’s music and have always been inspired by him and his leadership in worship.
This past January, the choir at First Baptist Cleveland hosted an incredible night of worship with the songs of Splendor of Heaven. How did the church respond to the songs and message of this night?
TB: We had a packed house both nights for our premiere, and it was just incredible to see the response of the congregants that came and all of the people that came from near and wide from Cleveland and outside of Cleveland as well. I had several people tell me different songs on the project was their favorite song. That’s pretty neat because usually on an album you’ll get one or two songs as the most that people say, ‘This is my favorite song.” I probably had about 7 or 8 of the 10 songs that were people’s favorite on the project.
It’s been an overwhelming response from people. We’ve been singing [the songs] now, teaching them to our congregation at First Baptist Church each Sunday morning since the premiere in January. They’re just loving it, and it’s blessing people. It’s amazing to see what God is doing just at First Baptist right now through this project, so we’re excited to see this grow and expand God’s kingdom.
GD: The cool thing is from a variety standpoint, we’ve got big ballads, full orchestra, gospel, black gospel…and then we have a song that a friend of mine and I wrote in the style of Mumford and Sons. At the premiere, we had everything from B-3 jamming with horns to this Mumford song we had a banjo, a fiddle, a mandolin and an upright bass come out and play with us on stage. I’ve never seen anybody do that with a choir.
The title of this project evokes a strong imagery of the beauty of God and the eternal promise for believers. How does the title of this work tie into the overall message of these songs?
GD: I wrote the title song, “Splendor of Heaven” about a year ago, and we started singing it at different places and the response, whether it was a contemporary or traditional church, was always overwhelming. When we started planning songs, I played this for Tyler, and we played it at First Baptist. Tyler’s actually the one that said he wanted to title the project Splendor of Heaven.
Heaven is something that we think of typically as a place you have to die to get to. I do believe that there is a place that we go when we leave this life that will be all we’ve hoped for and dreamed of, but that’s not the only way that God intended his people to experience heaven. He said he would allow us to sit in heavenly places.
In the life of believers, I think they need to understand that when Jesus said it is finished on the cross, a few miles away in a temple, there was a loud tearing sound and a veil that had separated ordinary people form the presence of God and the Holy of Holies was ripped from the top to the bottom and thrown wide open. He said whosoever will, let him come. Not a select group, not just a designated few. That’s the message of the whole project.
TB: So many of our songs on the project speak to the splendor of heaven and the joy that is experienced in heaven, not only in heaven, but here on earth. Because of what God and Christ have done for us, we can experience that same joy and that same splendor of heaven here on earth.
What is the main message that you want people to walk away with after hearing these songs?
TB: This project not only speaks to the teenagers but it speaks to the 94-year-olds as well. It has a broad range of impact. Just like the song [Geron] mentioned that he arranged in the Mumford and Sons vibe, the baby boomer generation thinks, “Hey, this is my song. This came out in my day.” People in my generation think, “This is cool. This is on the current radio right now.” It speaks to everybody.
Then, we also wanted to focus on the lyrics. They represent our basic faith in Christ our Lord and describe what that is. We live in a world right now where truth is fleeting here and there, and it’s so subjective, but the truth of God is objective. Our project speaks directly to that and says who is He, what He is, and to Whom we worship and that is Jesus Christ alone.
GD: At the end every work of music he did, Bach wrote Soli Deo Gloria [to the glory of God alone]. Regardless of whatever he did, that was his passion and purpose. That’s really what we wanted this project to be. I wanted it to be lighter fluid for everybody’s fire. Whoever listens to it, I want it to be lighter fluid on their fire to keep going, hang in there, and to find ways to use their lives to be living testimonies and bring glory and honor to Jesus.