1An Interview with Bethel Music’s Paul and Hannah McClure
Bethel Music artists Paul and Hannah McClure have been writing music together since they were 16 years old. They are known for their songs “Jesus We Love You,” “Faithful To The End,” and “How Great A King,” featured on previous Bethel Music live worship albums. Joyful and vibrant, their new album The Way Home relays the story of how the McClures found their way home when the roadmap failed. In the following interview, Paul and Hannah share all that they learned along the journey.
How did you both meet and start leading worship together?
Hannah and I met when she was 16 and I was 17 years old—back when Hannah had pink hair and skater jeans. We met in our youth group in North Carolina where I played drums and she played bass guitar for our worship team.
We were best buds for about a year and then started dating. Paul was really shy and quiet back then. He wore khaki pants and his whole family had matching Old Navy American flag t-shirts. We became the worship leaders at our church when my sister and brother and law took over as pastors. We dated for 5 years and then got married in 2008.
When did you start writing music?
We wrote emo music together for fun when we first met. When I was 18, I had a moment when I realized that songwriting was something I should take seriously. I wrote a song called “Stretch Me” and my dad made me perform it for a fundraiser our family had. I went to sing the song and this man grabbed the mic and said, “Paul, you didn’t write this song, God gave you this song.” I later found out that man was Ken Helser, Jonathan David Helser’s dad who is an amazing songwriter, artist, and minister. That was such a marking experience for me. I realized at that moment that songwriting is actually beyond me—God put something on my life.
That was such a marking experience for me. I realized in that moment that songwriting is actually beyond me—God put something on my life.
What did you have to overcome during this 3-year songwriting process?
My identity and our confidence as songwriters was really challenged. Writing for this album took longer than we expected, so we wondered if we were even good at this. It also affected the way we relate to each other. If the enemy can attack your confidence and your identity, you will lose sight of your calling and what you’re supposed to do. That’s when the Lord said to me, “Don’t look to the right or the left. Don’t look at what anyone else is doing.” It forced us to know what our worth is outside of what people say about our songs. I had to dig deep, get with the Lord and ask, “Who do you say that I am?”
I had to dig deep, get with the Lord and ask, “Who do you say I am?”
I remember thinking, “Are we good enough songwriters and worship leaders? Do we have what it takes?” Every time we went back to God and asked, “If we don’t write good songs are we still good enough?” The answer is yes. Along the journey, you can miss what God is doing if you just have your eyes on the destination. You have to realize that God wastes nothing and He’s going to use every part of this process to teach you things. We had to overcome some discouragement and it taught us how to work hard. No matter what we know we were called to this.
Why is your album titled The Way Home?
“The Way Home” is our title track for the album, and we originally wrote it with Josh Baldwin for his album. He played it a lot, and every time he played it, he said to us, “It feels like your song.” It was a last-minute addition and we didn’t even think of it being the title track until we were in Nashville. It’s the theme of our season because we are returning home and remembering who we are and these songs are a reflection of that. We recorded that song first and it set the direction for the rest of the songs.
The song starts with, “When my road map fails,” describing the process of us trying to play catch up and stay present. I thought the road was going to be straight but it’s been going around in circles. We learned to let go of the end result and value the journey and the people we met along the way. For us, home is not an address or place; it’s found inside—it’s an intimate place with God and an opportunity to grow in relationship with family. Our journey to identity and our songwriting process has been centered on the relationships that built us and encouraged us to move forward and grow.
For us, home is not an address or place; it’s found inside—it’s an intimate place with God and an opportunity to grow in relationship with family.
What is it like being known as worship leaders and writing this album?
It was a difficult process landing where we did with this album because we’ll always be worship leaders, so we wanted everything to be corporate and doable for our local church. But Joel Taylor, CEO of Bethel Music and Brian Johnson encouraged us and said, “I don’t think that’s for you, we want to pull out who you really are in these songs.”
It was a little scary at first because we’ve been worship leaders for so long, we didn’t know what our sound was and who are we as artists. It felt a little daunting, but in the end, this album actually captured who we really are. The beautiful thing about songwriting is that just because it’s not something we can sing for a corporate church setting doesn’t mean it’s not worship. That’s how we want to live our lives. We’re not divided into different categories, we want everything we do to be worship.
We’re both pastor’s kids and we grew up in the church, so we always wrote music that was for the Lord. We wanted to write a live worship album, but instead, The Way Home was an invitation to fully be ourselves.
The Way Home was an invitation to fully be ourselves.
When you’re pastor’s kids and constantly serving a ministry, it can be easy to lose yourself. We were getting on that track of, “Let’s just put our heads down and serve.” But in this season the Lord is inviting us to the way home. We’re growing and stepping forward but we’re remembering who we are and where we came from. We’re going back to our roots and treasuring who we really are in the Lord.
What do you want people to experience when they listen to your album?
We want these to be songs that people can see themselves in and say, “Oh that speaks to me, that’s just like my story.” For us, we have staple albums that we always go back and listen to as a lifeline when we need uplifting and encouragement. I want this album to be something of a lifeline for people that speaks to the faithfulness, hope, and joy in everyday life. That’s us anyway, we’re just normal everyday life kind of people.
That’s us anyway, we’re just normal everyday life kind of people.
Even the way our songs are produced by David Leanord is so fun. He’s brought so much encouragement to us as songwriters, reminding us that these songs are ours and they’re meaningful. We want this album to bring lightness and fun, and we want people to know that they don’t have to take life so seriously.
Watch Paul and Hannah share about their new album The Way Home