The Voice's Emily Ann Roberts highlights how a church community can shape faith and families, with a phenomenal vocal to boot.
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Even before the pandemic, getting the faithful into the pews has been a challenge for local parishes and dioceses around the United States. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation, with recent reports estimating only 24% of Catholics in the nation attend Mass weekly. Perhaps what is needed to counter this downward trend, however, is an anthem for churches; a song to remind the faithful that our own histories are deeply ingrained in each wooden pew.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for such a song, because that’s exactly what singer/songwriter Emily Ann Roberts released in November. Roberts’ song, “The Building,” is a sweet, sentimental track that recalls some of her, and her family’s most definitive moments in church. In just four-and-a-half minutes, Roberts reminds us of all the history, community, and faith development that happens in a Christian church.
Roberts opens the track by recalling how her family’s church was once run by her grandfather, who served as preacher in the mid-20th century, and how the Spirit moved her to learn to sing from the “tattered old red hymn books.” She goes on to contemplate just how many people had walked on the creaky wooden floors or prayed before that very altar.
In subsequent verses, Roberts tells how her church is where her parents met, where she learned how to pray, and where she learned that she is unconditionally loved by Christ. It all builds up to a phenomenal, belting chorus in which she explains that it was in this building that “Jesus changed my life.”
The song is just what we need to remind the faithful of all the ways a church community can mold an individual and family in communion with Jesus, but it would be nothing without Roberts’ impeccable performance. With a beautiful soprano that’s accented by a gentle country twang, it’s easy to hear why Roberts won Runner-up on Season 9 of NBC’s The Voice. Her vocal prowess is especially on display for the last two minutes of the song, showing off an expansive range on the bridge in particular.
In an interview with Taste of Country, Roberts commented on the song:
“The first time I played this song for my family, they were all in tears,” Roberts recalls. “It’s just such a special place for all of us. Our faith in Jesus is the most important thing in our lives and this church has impacted and blessed our lives in a way that’s hard to put into words.”
While Roberts found it hard to find the words in her interview, the lyrics of “The Building” perfectly capture her sentiments. This song stands as a magnificent testament to the importance that a church has to both a family and the individual, and makes a very good argument for all of the good that awaits us, if only we would go to church.