Australian songwriter and worship leader Mitch Wong recently dropped “Burial,” the first single from his forthcoming debut album. Written in collaboration with Cody Carnes, the new song explores the biblical nature of death and resurrection. Introducing his project with “Burial” sets the scene for the revelation carried in his song writing: the mystery that unfolds after the burial is that we are made new creations in Christ; the old is gone and behold, the new has come. The theological depth of Mitch Wong’s songs is central in his ministry, and “Burial” expands on the challenging call to discipleship that one must face when following Jesus. In this TCB Exclusive, Wong reflects on his debut single and talks about what to expect from his upcoming LP.
Congratulations on the recent release of the single of your upcoming debut album! Can you share why “Burial” was the first single you wanted to release?
I got this song in a sleepless night last year. I got all these ideas and songs, and I’m excited to share them! For so long I’ve been a song writer and felt sure that is what God was calling me to do. And with these songs, it was God saying that He wanted me to sing these and carry these. I’ve felt that coming, but the timing was really exciting. The reason I chose “Burial” to begin is because the album is going to be the journey from burial to bloom. That is such a biblical concept that I’m obsessed with. Even with sowing and reaping, you can’t have a harvest unless you allow the seeds to be buried. It’s the same with resurrection. There can’t be a resurrection without a grave. And all these things and the journey God takes us through with hardship, suffering, grief, and pain; the fruit is so abundant afterward. So I just want to write a collection of songs that explain that more. So there’s no better place to begin than the first line of the song: “to die is gain.” It is a pretty confronting and heavy line to start a project with, but it truly is the gospel. We have to die to ourselves to become disciples of Jesus, which is the miracle that comes after the burial. When we chose to let go of the old and take on the new, Jesus is the hope of Glory within us.
How are you looking to define success and impact for this single?
I want the impact to be a few things – one of the things I want this project to do is remind people of the Gospel in its fullness. Often we celebrate Jesus rising on Sunday, but forget him on the cross on Friday. It’s important to take the fullness of the Gospel – it costs everything to take up your cross and follow Jesus daily. I think that’s worth reminding believers. If we gained the whole world, but lost our souls, what would that be worth. Even the hard truths that it will take tears and work, but it is worth it in the end. Another thing that I want this project to be is encouragement for everyone who has experienced loss. The song that got this whole project in motion was written for a friend who lost her father in 2020. I woke up in the middle of the night and got this song called “To Be With The Lord.” It was a song that met us in grief. The hope we have in Jesus and eternal life that waits is such a glorious hope that even Jesus wept when Lazarus died. It’s important that we don’t brush aside grief, but allow God to walk us through it and experience more of Him. There’s another song called “Still On The Throne” and that song was written for a friend whose wife had passed away after the birth of their first child. What do you say in something as tragic as that, and we didn’t want it to be a fix-all. But we have to trust that even during that Jesus is still on the throne and is with us even in grief.
What has stood out to you from listener responses so far?
Any messages that I’ve gotten are an encouragement to me. As artists, and Christian artists especially, we feel God to say this. The main thing is I felt I needed to say “yes” to releasing these songs. And whatever success or streams come from it are peripheral to that. As long as you say “yes” to Jesus, even if one person listens to it, it is worth it. I saw this comment that this lady had two stillborn children and the song had been an encouragement to reframe what she had gone through. And I’m still processing that. It is hard for me to believe that we get to be part of encouraging people like that through music and scripture. That’s the powerful thing about the word of God. When put to song, it helps you remember and carry it.
You’ve been in the music industry for awhile, so how was this project different for you? What have you learned about yourself?
I have learned a lot about myself, and it has to do with what I was just saying. It’s worth it to say “yes” to Jesus. He will bless it no matter what. Anything to do with platform I want to be God-ordained. God has so encouraged me through feedback of this. As a 16 year old kid, I started writing songs in my bedroom and for my church. To see those songs minister to people is what made me say I wanted to do this the rest of my life. It’s been cool to learn that the heart of that is the same – I want to use music to encourage people and bring the Glory to God. Another thing I’ve learned is that is hard work! It takes a lot and every time a song comes out, the emotion I feel is relief. I am excited and grateful, but also relived. You have these songs in your heart so long, and finally I don’t have to hold it in anymore and God can do with it what He wants.
What are you most expectant for looking to 2023?
Every year we have things to look forward to. God is so good. We just got our green cards, so for the first time in 3 years me and my wife will be able to go home and see family. I’m so looking forward to that! Releasing the project is obvious, and it’s just a really exciting time for the church. I’m excited to be part of what God is doing on the earth. IT’s been a real sifting time and re-evaluating what is important and what is the Gospel and the non-negotiables. It is always beautiful to see the church reaching communities.