Heather Sorenson was born in Illinois and lived in a number of places throughout her childhood, finally settling in the beautiful city of Dallas, Texas.
While the city may brag about the Ewings, J.R. and Sue Ellen, who are now making a reappearance on the small screen, it can also boast of the talent of a small-statured Norwegian named Heather, who knows personally the touch of God’s hand on her life and shares transparently those experiences through her music.
Heather is unassuming — so much like you and me. She enjoys a great cup of coffee while watching the morning news, she loves reruns of classic television like The Dick Van Dyke Show, and is currently trying to visit Dallas’ Top 100 Restaurants. Heather enjoys all kinds of music, especially jazz; she is an accomplished pianist with numerous published collections and finds herself especially drawn to German-made pianos. For a current list of Heather’s piano arrangements, click here.
When I first heard Raise Your Hands I knew immediately there was something very special about this song. The lyrics seem to come from a place of intimate worship that could only come from a journey filled with both mountain tops and valleys traveled with Jesus Christ. I knew I had to learn more about this composer and find where she was on her journey when God gave her this song. Here is what she said:
“Rather than coming from one single event in my life, Raise Your Hands is pretty much a testimony of my Christian journey. As I travel around the country, I often tell people that there’s a little bit of blood and tears in each line; each phrase represents a very specific moment in my journey. While the title can be interpreted literally, the text goes much deeper than a physical ‘raising’ of the hands; it’s more of a symbolic lifting of our hands and our hearts to God.”
The line at the end of the song, “The hands that have been emptied, God will fill them once again” is the culmination of the grace and promises of God. Do you have a certain process when writing a piece of music?
“Composing and arranging music is like breathing to me; I can do it on command at almost any time (although I write the best in the morning). Writing lyrics is a little bit of a different story though. I put a lot more thought into my texts, and usually spend a couple weeks getting them exactly how I want them. My general rule is to write about my own experiences, and I usually wait for God to give me direction. Usually, He sends both the lyrics and music to the hook simultaneously, and then I develop the song from there.”
Raise Your Hands is such an intimate look at the journey of Christians and certainly of your personal walk with Christ. Was it difficult to show such an honest piece of your heart?
“Yes and no. My greatest desire is for God to use me, and I have seen Him redeem my pain and scars by drawing people to Him through my music. It’s incredibly humbling. I will confess though, that every time a writer submits a manuscript to our publishers, there’s always the fear that it will get turned down, or that the publisher won’t see the same value in the piece. After I had made myself so vulnerable and put so much of my own life into Raise Your Hands, I will admit to a little nail-biting while I was waiting on a response. My editor actually called me back that same day, letting me know that he felt this piece would become a very special piece in Christian music.”
Raise Your Hands is one of those arrangements that cross boundary lines both denominationally and stylistically. Where would you like to see it live in worship settings?
“I think that this piece works great not only as a choral anthem, but as a solo piece, and a congregational worship song. I would like to think that God might use it in all three of those areas.”
Finally, do you have any thoughts for those who may be walking through a valley and need to feel that special touch from God?
“So many are timid and so afraid to just raise their hands and allow their Heavenly Father to bless them. Something that I learned later on in life was how special I was to God as an individual. I knew that “God so loved the world…,” and so He apparently loved me along with all the other 2.3 billion people on the earth. But I didn’t quite grasp that God adored me as an individual. As His special daughter, there is so much healing in that truth. I mattered to God. A verse that I love is Hebrews 4:15; we have a High Priest whose heart is touched and moved by our pain. My personality is the type that would probably tiptoe up to God, politely tap Him on the shoulder when I have a problem, then apologize profusely for interrupting His work in the universe. But God tells us in the very next verse to march into His throne room boldly whenever we need His grace and His help! We’re His sons and daughters, and He has given us that right to ‘interrupt’ whatever is going on; He’s our Father, and our needs are of utmost importance to Him.”
We have seen the transparency of a beautiful heart, the wisdom of a seasoned traveler, the kindness of a neighbor, and the innocence of a child. Thank you for sharing.
To order Raise Your Hands or any of Heather’s other choral works, click here.
To order Mercy Testament, Heather’s Service of Encouragement, click here.
Hi Heather: I am inspired by your talent and musical expertise. It`s so good to hear all of your wonderful modulations. I have bought a copy of SHOUT UNTO GOD for my Acappella group and loved your cantata Sound & Silence. I will be exploring more of your music to find good acappella songs written by you. Every Blessing Barry Goddard (www.acappella.org.au)
Thank you for your comment, Barry. You may also enjoy our more recent Inside Voice interview with Heather: https://blogs.jwpepper.com/index.php/the-inside-voice-heather-sorenson/
Hi Heather, I heard you sing and play recently at Rev. Billy Adams memorial service. I’m his cousin. I knew there was something special about you so have been trying to learn who you are and what you’ve done. I love your sincerity as well as your gifting! I love that you obviously know Jesus and minister to Him and us with your music. God bless you abundantly!!