Marcell Silva Steuernagel Releases Congregational Worship Album

The project was produced in part with assistance from a Scholarly Outreach Award from Perkins School of Theology.

DALLAS (SMU) – Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Assistant Professor of Church Music at Perkins, has been composing music for congregational worship since the mid-1990s. His compositions have been featured at regional and national gatherings, recorded by worship bands, and made their way into hymnals. After almost three decades, Steuernagel is releasing a full-length album that gathers the “cream of the crop” of his production.

“For many years, people have asked me for recordings of these songs, and I had to point them to a hymnal or to another group’s recording,

” he said. “I finally acknowledged that I needed to produce my own versions of this repertoire and make it available for worship leaders, congregations, and all those interested in my work.”

Produced under the auspices of a Scholarly Outreach Award from Perkins School of Theology, the project began right as the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down early in 2020.

“In that sense, the project started with a major logistical challenge,” he remembers.

Steuernagel invested in arrangement and pre-production that year, and was finally able to begin in-person recording sessions in 2021 and 2022. In the studio, he worked with long-time collaborator Tiago Brandão at Vox Dei Studios in Curitiba, South Brazil. Brandão engineered the recording sessions and plays drums on almost all tracks.

“Tiago and I have known each other for more than twenty years,” Steuernagel said. “One of the reasons I like working with him is that he reads my mind. In terms of sound, of what I want, it’s really a good collaboration.”

Brandão quickly understood the vision, heard the demos and recorded all his drum tracks in one day: “Marcell brought arranged scores and notes to the studio, and those helped: It helped me a lot to play and produce the songs because I knew what was expected but also because I could read.”

In addition, Brandão brought his own grooves and vibes to the project: “I like to be economic with my drum playing

. I know that Marcell likes to assign parts of the groove to other instruments, so I tried to keep the drum parts tight.”

From Steuernagel’s perspective, Brandão did an amazing job: “his playing is not over-the


-top. He has excellent musical taste and a wealth of ideas, so I trusted him and gave him free reign to incorporate his voice into the arrangements.” They both agree it worked out. “I wanted to appreciate and get the most out of Tiago’s experience. The drums, the arrangements, the harmonies … they all have Tiago’s fingerprint, says Marcell. “I think it was fun for both of us. I think process matters. Opening spaces for others’ creativity and making music with friends makes a difference. The process is not the same, and the result is a higher-quality product.”

Steuernagel said he trusts Brandão on the faders as much as he does on the drums. “He’s an excellent audio engineer, bringing together the technical and artistic dimensions of that role,” according to the composer.

“Working with Tiago is working with flow, it’s organic. This team tag was a highlight of this process. When a collaboration isn’t smooth, that impacts the results,” Steuernagel said. Much of that flow is possible due to Brandão's extensive experience as engineer and studio wizard. He has recorded bands in many different styles and is able to adapt his musical ear to whatever aesthetic is required for a given project. In this case, he remembers, “every song had to be produced toward the voice, because we were thinking of congregational singing. The voice has to be the protagonist. So in this record, we added multiple vocal layers.”

The end result is a unique blend of pop-rock aesthetics, references to Brazilian musical expressions, a good dose of groove, and insightful lyrics coupled with melodies that are catchy without being repetitive. According to Brandão, “Marcell’s music is not ‘normal’ church music. I think the most unique thing in his music is the message, which is beautiful. His music brings something very different to the table than what we have in mainstream industry—it has a powerful message.”

For this album, Steuernagel wanted to put together a great selection of congregational songs for worship; he also wanted to gather the personalities and musical contributions of many who shared the stories that led to the composition of these pieces. The list of contributors, which can be found in the album release materials, attest to his collaborative spirit, pastoral listenership, and acknowledgment that Christian worship is a collective, communal affair. Participants include members from Golgotha, a band Steuernagel shared with close friends for 20 years; family and friends, musicians from Comunidade do Redentor in Curitiba, where he served before coming to Perkins; and others, such as bassist Nelson Rios and bassist/guitarist Mateus Brandão.

“Most, if not all, of these songs were written for specific situations in the life of the church and arose from my own ministry both locally or during my extensive travels throughout the country, leading worship seminars and helping congregations develop their own ministries,” he said.

The album’s most recent composition, “Lâmpada,” was the only song Marcell wrote in the United States. But the song was written for a Brazilian national youth gathering in 2018 and has been well-received. The album version features a duet with fellow composer Marcos Almeida.

Other songs on the album represent snapshots of Steuernagel’s years of ministry in Brazil: Psalm texts, songs for confession, and other key liturgical themes are represented. In fact, the complete record is planned as a liturgy from gathering song to final benediction. While these songs have already found a place in the repertoire of Christian congregations in Brazil, Marcell hopes that they will find new listeners and provide music for congregations in search of music that engages the ear, the mind, and the body in worship.



Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.