joyful gen hero
The Australian Catholic Youth Festival is excited to announce the official ACYF17 Song: Joyful Generation by Tim Hart.
Check out the full press release here.
Check out and download the track and sheet music below:

An interview with Tim Hart composer of Joyful Generation 

What inspired you to enter the song competition for ACYF17?
The love of songwriting! And a deep call to celebrate our faith through music.

In 2015 I entered the competition for ACYF Adelaide, with an unsuccessful result. I was determined to improve on my previous attempt, only this time around I had a fire blazing within, filled with spirit from WYD 2016 - deeply inspired by Pope Francis who said, ‘that Jesus pushes us to keep our sights high and to dream of great things’. (And deeply inspired by Matt Maher leading a night of worship at Tauron Arena, Krakow). With a belief that I have been called to share the gift of music, to bring joy to the lives of others, I was inspired to make a mark and the song competition was an opportunity to do this.

How did the theme “opening up new horizons for spreading joy" resonate with your creative juices? What was the journey of composing your entry like? Where did you find your inspiration?
When reading through Pope Francis’ Address to WYD pilgrims from which the theme was adapted, it was like a flashback in my mind. Only last year I was there in Poland, in the moment, among 3 million pilgrims. I was blessed to be among a few thousand people in a section close to the main stage. It was sunset when the vigil began. With a radio translation in our headphones, we listened to Pope Francis speak with words that enflamed our hearts with inspiration. These words made us feel like we were deeply loved, calling us forward into life - to offer the best of ourselves and leave our mark on history. By the time the vigil had finished it was now dark. I had to move back to the designated area for my group a few hundred meters away. As I came over the crest of a hill I was awestruck by a sea of light. Three million or so pilgrims each had a candle glowing in the darkness which was a blessed joyful sight to see.

So with the WYD experience fresh in my heart, I began writing - trying to capture the essence of Christian joy, I kept coming back to Pope Francis’ message and pondered various scripture passages about joy. I began writing and in the end, I composed six different songs, each taking a slightly different perspective on joy, including a fun quirky song called ‘Spread Joy like Peanut Butter’. Out of the six, I entered three in the competition - in three different genres of music. The successful song was “Joyful Generation”. With this song, I asked myself, what makes us joyful people? The lyrics explore this idea in connection with the risen Christ who is merciful and whose salvation lifts our spirits and gives us reason to be joyful people. The sea of lights on the horizon image from WYD, still vivid in my mind, found it’s way into the chorus. Like the candlelight at the Easter Vigil Mass, we can spread joy and hope to light up the darkness in our lives especially for those around us.

How does music and faith come together in your life?
From as long as I can remember, music has been an integral part of my life and into adulthood has become a huge part of my spirituality - a connecting point with God. Looking back I feel as though the spirit was at work and still is, constantly leading me into life where music and faith connect.

As a teenager, I was pretty normal. I would listen to music of my generation as well as that of my parents, exploring their record collection - ACDC, Rolling Stones, Beatles, ABBA, John Denver, playing the guitar along to them. I also really enjoyed composing and I wrote songs for various high school events. One day I asked the music minister at Mass if I could join the group and before long the electric guitar had found it's placed in the music ministry. A few more years later I married the music minister’s daughter (my best friend) and became a primary school teacher in a Catholic school. This had a huge impact on the direction of my life where my gift of music truly found expression serving the faith community and the community did so much towards nourishing my faith. This has been a double blessing in my life, to not only do what I love but to see the communities I’ve been part of come alive in Spirit through celebration and song is the reward in itself. Before long, I began writing music for religious education and liturgy and was leading music at Mass regularly, encouraging the students and their families to join in and take part. A song I composed was recorded by a popular Children’s RE Artist. Young pilgrims who went to a Catholic primary school may even know it, it is called, “The Walking Out the Door Song”.

Ever since I have been blessed with the opportunity to enliven school and parish communities through music. It is a glorious moment when you are leading the music ministry, only to quieten the instruments and hear the whole congregation lifting the roof in song.

For me, music is a form of prayer. Often I find myself praying a Lectio Divina, meditating on words from scripture. These words turn into rhythms and rhymes, which turn into melodies and music and then into a song. The words Lectio Divina mean divine reading. For me, it becomes musica divina.

Music and faith is now something I share with my family. My children love to sing and dance and my two eldest daughters have just reached an age where they can now play their instruments at Mass and it brings so much joy and life to the parishioners, uplifting their experience of the liturgy.

When you first heard your entry was chosen what were your initial thoughts?
I was really excited that I had been blessed with the opportunity to proclaim God’s word through the gift of music.

Have you enjoyed the process of developing and recording your song?
To be honest, it hasn't particularly been an easy process of developing and recording the festival theme song. There were fun and enjoyable moments that came with challenges that required patience and persistence.  All up there were about fifteen different versions of the song that went back and forth with lyric and structure variations and different genres of music were tried out too.

It has been awesome working with Simon Hyland who has great musical talent. He has been so encouraging and supportive throughout the process and helped guide the song into the ‘upbeat-can’t-help-but-get-on-your-feet-and-shout-it-out’ vibe. Thank you, Simon.
When we hit the studio, things really lifted. This is where Phil Anquetil (a star in his own right), came on board. Phil has great energy and is a phenomenal producer. A highlight for me was watching him work his magic in the studio - mixing and mastering the sound, almost with the power of his mind, like he was one with the machine! Phil brought great vision to the final sound of the song - helping us to imagine it being played in an epic stadium with 15000 people singing along, rocking out with devout knee slides. Thank you, Phil.

What is your hope for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival and your involvement in it?
My hope for the festival is that 15000 young people are filled with the Spirit and inspired to actively live out their faith, realising that they themselves are the Church in our world and have a great deal to offer. I hope that young people of today leave the festival feeling empowered to bring life, hope and joy to the world as an example of Christ. Pope Francis captures this idea beautifully as he says, “the joy that you have freely received from God, please, freely give away: so many people are waiting for it! So many are waiting for it from you.”

As for my involvement, through the gift of music, I hope to lift hearts and turn minds towards God. My hope is that the festival song unites people together and becomes a moment of encounter, among many others, to reveal that our Catholic faith is joyful and life-giving. And I hope that this opportunity might open more opportunities to continue writing songs that lead people deeper into faith and unite our faith communities throughout Australia and beyond.

Thank you to everyone involved in the journey of creating this song. To my family for putting up with months of listening to demos. Simon & Phil as mentioned above. Anne for your encouragement and support and for being the brave messenger. To Malcolm for being an advocate of new Catholic music. And to all those who have worked behind the scenes. While the process was far from simple, all your efforts have paid off and I can't wait to share this song, on behalf of everyone involved in its creation, with the young Church of Australia - 2, 3, 4!