Bratton puts a lot of faith in his songwriting
Last of a series featuring the 10 student artists who wrote the songs for Canyon Worship 2021, scheduled to be released in September. Today: Austin Bratton.
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The music is about much more than the music for Austin Bratton.
His “By Grace Through Faith,” last of the 10 songs on Canyon Worship 2021, reflects the fact that he changed his major from Worship Arts to Christian Studies with an Emphasis in Philosophy.
He still loves to write worship music. But he loves to study the Gospel just as much.
“The Gospel is crucial and central to everything,” he said. “I used to think it could be over-emphasized – ‘OK, let’s chill out a little bit.’ But, really, everything hinges on the Gospel.”
The song is based on Ephesians 2:8-9:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
“That’s beautiful,” Bratton said. “It’s short, compact and not too long.”
His goal was simple, too.
“How can I preach the Gospel in a song, just straight up?”
It’s yet another example of a key element of the Worship Arts program: It is about more than the music. It’s about the theology, too. Bratton has noticed it in many of the songs on this year’s album: “A huge focusing on the truth of Scripture. This is what Scripture says, and this is how we feel about it.”
And he certainly is eager to share how he feels about it.
“I’ve fallen in love with explaining God’s Word,” he said. “Ever since I’ve gotten into the new major, I’ve been able to write better. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, this is what I’m feeling.’ It’s like, ‘No, I have confidence this is who the Lord is and this is His attitude toward me and this is who I am.’ I’m being directed by His Word now as opposed to my feelings.”
That’s why he changed his major after his freshman year, when he asked himself, “Am I really doing this for the Lord, or is it also for myself? Is it just for the Lord, or am I diluting that?”
The Kingsburg, California, native has loved music ever since his father introduced him to Creed and Nickelback when he was a small child. Then a new youth pastor came to Bratton’s church, and his example inspired Bratton to make worship music.
“He played guitar like an angel,” Bratton said. “He was the most vivid embodiment of who Christ was, in my heart, the way he lived his life. His virtue was just amazing.”
How amazing? When Bratton asked him to teach him the guitar, he said he would – at no charge.
“He didn’t just teach me how to play guitar; he taught me what a true relationship with the Lord actually looks like,” Bratton said. “That’s a big reason why I still do music, to remember him and remember where I came from.”
It’s working. Eric Johnson, Manager of the GCU Recording Studio, found himself humming the melodies of Bratton’s songs during album production.
“His songwriting is thoughtful and catchy,” he said. “He has a talent for writing hooks into his songs that are very easy to remember.
“Austin has been a worship leader for several years and is passionate about bringing people into the throne room of God through leading from the stage. It is easy to see how Austin will continue to grow into a dynamic worship leader and prepare the way for people to meet God through worship.”
Bratton is not like many of the other student artists on Canyon Worship. He credits the semiannual Songwriters Showcase for forcing him to stay in the songwriting habit – he certainly doesn’t write songs regularly. “I know freaks like that,” he said. “I’m not one of them.”
But his ability to translate the Bible to song certainly is freaky good. He credits that to the way his College of Theology professors share how they live their lives and show how to interpret Scripture.
“Everything hinges on what Christ did for us on the cross,” Bratton said. “Because without that, we don’t have reconciliation with God. In fact, we’re all enemies of God before Christ actually does that. Without Christ, we’re just naturally rebellious against God.
“Fortunately, with what He did, we can come and do stuff like this. We can come and write music to the God of all creation, things seen and unseen.”
And when a student artist is on point, it’s easy to see. It happened 10 times on Canyon Worship 2021.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
Related content from Canyon Worship 2021:
GCU Today: The music of Canyon Worship is all grown up
Related content from previous Canyon Worship albums:
GCU Today: ‘Amazing’ Canyon Worship album released