Samantha Lee, 19, shares her experience at the recent one-night only worship event in Singapore with CityAlight, the music ministry of St. Paul’s Castle Hill, Sydney.
I was introduced to CityAlight when my church sang Yet Not I but through Christ in Me and it quickly became one of my favourites. From then on, they became a worship band that I would frequently listen to especially whenever any new songs were released.
One day, instead of listening to them through Spotify, my sister told my family that we could spend one night of worship with the band in Singapore on 30 September. The event was co-organised by Adam Road Presbyterian Church, Redemption Hill Church and the Trinity Annual Conference of The Methodist Church in Singapore.
Up till the night itself, I didn’t know what to expect but now I can say that it truly was an experience to remember.
Birthed from a desire to equip churches with songs containing simple melodies but biblically rich lyrics, CityAlight is the humble, fully volunteer-run music ministry of St. Paul’s Castle Hill in Sydney, Australia.
One in Christ marked their first-ever concert in Singapore, where the emphasis of the night was on two of their songs: a newly recorded version of Jesus Strong and Kind and their debut, Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me.
During the event at The Star Theatre, Richard Thompson, co-founder, and songwriter of CityAlight, shared with the audience the story of his journey to the Philippines with the International Justice Mission (IJM).
He was there to produce a true-crime podcast series called “Finding Ruby,” which sheds light on the stories of young girls who unwittingly fell victim to online sexual exploitation of children (OSCE), one of the fastest-growing crimes globally. It was eye-opening to learn about these crimes happening and it warmed my heart to see God’s Word ministered to them that night.
After seeing a clip of children in a local Filipino church singing “Jesus Strong and Kind,” he realised how the words initially penned for his own daughters could impact such a small village in the Philippines. A small group from the band then recorded a new version of the song with a choir made up of members from the Philippine Survivor Network (PSN).
Furthermore, the band had forged connections with local churches in Singapore through collaborative projects with IJM. This ultimately led to the arrival of CityAlight in Singapore tonight, hosted by these local churches. The band prayed that the testimony of their duet will minister to the audience and the local community. I was amazed at how everything fell into place, showing that God is always at work.
A special moment of the night was when the band told the crowd that they were going to do a live recording of their debut song “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me” in Mandarin. The lead singer of the band kept repeating this phrase, “The sound of CityAlight is the sound of the church,” and although everyone came from different churches, we are one universal church in Christ. The band made the effort to learn the lyrics in Mandarin and collaborated with a worship leader from a local church to make the theme of the night – One in Christ – come true.
This opened my eyes to how humble this small and simple band was and yet could make such an impact in churches all over the globe. They shared how they were sceptical when they heard an entire theatre had been booked, believing that only a few hundred people would turn up. That night, 5,500 of us showed up to worship with them.
They asked the audience to sing their hearts out when they hit record. There was no fancy equipment, backdrop, or retakes like other music videos on YouTube, just pure worship in that moment. After the recording, the band requested the song to be sung again, this time with no electrics and no drums, just the acoustics and the sound of thousands of voices glorifying God.
As the night drew to a close, band members shared that they were amazed at how the love of God could bring together individual nations, different churches and diverse languages to sing together as one voice, giving all glory to Him.
Nothing could’ve prepared me for that night too, as I thought it would just be a Christian concert. But everything, from the testimonies to experiences, were so unique that all I could think about was how amazing the ways of God are.
All photos by Samantha Lee.
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