Worship Music and the “Hard Call”: Q&A with Eric Marshall of Young Oceans

On Saturday, September 30, Young Oceans, a worship band from Brooklyn, New York, played at Regent University’s Night of Worship event on their very first tour.

Eric Marshall, the group’s lead singer and songwriter, took a few minutes to talk with Laura Thomas, the event coordinator for Regent’s Office of Advancement.

Laura: Why is it important to bring worship to a university?

Eric: There’s no shortage of media and music and art out there in the world, and there’s no shortage of tours. I would humbly submit that this music we’re making is odd. It’s odd that it’s trying to capture true prayer and true longings of our hearts, and for me, as a follower of Christ, the conversation of what it means to wrestle through that and to try to be a faithful follower.

That’s what these songs are about, and that’s what our worshiping and prayer life is about. These are kind of crazy songs that put it all on the line … We’ve been so honored already at the response. People have been encouraging us to keep going.

Laura: What advice would you give to college students who are engaging in worship on their campuses and in their communities?

Eric: Keep pressing in. I’m envious of the youthfulness of college students. I wish I had that energy. I think if I look back to the days when I was in school, we were so crazy for a cause. The world is set on fire by college-age students … Most spiritual movements begin on campuses. Never doubt what a hungry heart can bring forth.

Laura: What is your favorite thing about leading worship?

Eric: Rehearsing with my bands because we don’t have to do it [worship] for anyone. We just get to enjoy the experience ourselves, and sometimes during rehearsal, I find that things happen in our spirits that maybe don’t happen later in the church service. That’s kind of a special thing for bands to experience.

Leading worship for me is a hard call. It’s something that I know I’m called to do, and the thing that I’m most honored by when I do it is hearing from people that [say] something tore open in their heart — maybe right at the moment where I was … sort of laying it on the line and allowing myself to just be completely open in [the] song.

That’s when things can happen and that’s a really hard dance because you cannot force those moments, ever.