The Porter’s Gate’s latest album is a far cry from the bouncy Christmas tunes like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” that flood the radio waves this time of year. Drawing heavily on Biblical Scriptures and written with the worship of the congregation in mind, âAdvent Songsâ is a hopeful response to the dire realities of 2021.
âWe lost Advent,â Porter’s Gate founder Isaac Wardell told RNS. âIt’s not just the most wonderful time of year, it’s the time of year when Christians historically self-examine and think about what it means that Jesus is coming, and that Jesus will return. It produces a really different set of songs and prayers that we need to hear at this point in history. “
The Porter’s Gate is a self-proclaimed “cult project” founded in 2017 by Wardell, a longtime cult leader, and his wife Megan. Designed with the goal of making worship spaces more universally hospitable, The Porter’s Gate begins most of the album-writing processes with various gatherings of songwriters, pastors, and theologians discussing a theme that they consider absent from church music, such as vocation, lament and justice. These conversations then inspire the songs written for each album.
The ever-evolving project has produced five albums or EPs and has had around 300 contributors over the past four years, including Audrey Assad, Liz Vice, David Gungor and Urban Doxology. Today, Wardell continues to lead the project from Belgium, where he graduated from the Catholic University of Louvain. RNS spoke to Wardell about The Porter’s Gate’s unconventional approach to songwriting and their latest album. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.