Father Isaiah of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal touched hearts all over the world with his musical talents and passion for worshipping the Lord.
He is well-known online as “Brother Isaiah” for his singing voice and 2018 album “Poco a Poco” which generated more than 10 million downloads. Since then, Father Isaiah was ordained a priest in 2022 and is releasing his latest 10-song music project entitled, “Mysteries and Medicines.”
Father Isaiah said he hopes his album will “awaken in the heart a new wonder for the beauty and sweetness of repentance, a desire to take that journey of ‘recovery’ (with some ‘how to’s’ along the way), and an awareness that God’s medicines are ultimately born to us in the mysteries of our lives.”
J.J. Wright, Director of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir, spoke with ChurchPOP about his friendship with Father Isaiah and this new album he helped produce.
J.J. Wright and Father Isaiah / Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Wright discussed Brother Isaiah’s recent album, which features an outlook on the highs and lows of discernment.
The album took about three years to produce.
Wright said that along with producing it, he played keyboards and contributed with vocals when needed.
Though it’s been 5 years since the last album “Poco a Poco,” the inspiration for this album, “Mysteries & Medicines” is very different.
“Father Isaiah wanted to showcase this balance of the mystery that exists in suffering and hardship and even disappointment, alongside the mystery of all that we as humans cannot understand. But by exploring the mystery, it can become this source of medicine for our lives, kind of the overall journey Brother Isaiah’s songs take us through,” Wright said.
“We lean into the things we don’t know about God, and in that trust, it provides a remedy for our souls.”
The first single, “Blindman” was released on Jan. 19, 2024, and its musical style is vastly different from previous songs. Wright said that Brother Isaiah’s usual style is acoustic–sometimes reggae and folk type.
This time, he wanted to expand his style with drum, bass beats, and electric sounds. He also used a more modern sound you hear on the radio.
Wright referred to these lyrics from “Blindman”:
“I am a man still struggling toward the Promised Land, in your mercy, you’ll lead me while I struggle to follow…But you’re my Good Shepherd…so take me by the hand and lead me on.”
“It starts with this hard-hitting bass drum. The verses are about this experience of how we see ourselves as not enough in God’s eyes, recognizing that without God, we are not enough–but using that as the motivation to call on God to lead us where we could go,” Wright explained.
Wright adds that Blindman is promoted as “a prayer and invitation to continue on the journey when the road is shrouded in mystery and your poverty weighs heavy. He takes us by the hand and leads us home. It’s a pilgrimage from mystery to full sight.”
Father Isaiah, J.J. Wright, and friends. / Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Wright explained that each song is written elaborately and purposefully, with the creative process still being a lot of fun.
“I’m a layperson with a family of four kids. We are very deep into our family life. The kind of life the Friars live is they have their family in their brotherhood, but they also have a special singularity, as well as having this profession to God in themselves. They spend so much time praying Liturgy of the Hours in really concrete and direct service to the poor. It’s a privilege being surrounded by them.”
He later emphasized how this collaboration combined two vocations, and in the process, created something bigger than themselves.
“I couldn’t make this album on my own and he couldn’t either. This album became possible because Father is a religious and I’m a layperson. We pick up where our own vocations stop. There is a dynamic feeling to it.”
Wright mentioned that most people don’t understand the impact of streaming this music, which supports the Franciscans’ work.
“Most people just stream it, but listening to the song and sharing it with people is what directly supports the friars in their work. You’re supporting the order by listening to the songs and sharing them.”
Wright expressed that he and Father Isaiah hope people will experience a great takeaway from this album.
“We hope people will encounter the mysteries that are present in our lives, suffering or graces, and in that encounter, see how God is offering something greater than we could’ve imagined.”
His next song in the album is entitled “Exodus” and will be released on Feb. 16, 2024!
Listen to “Blindman” below: