O God, arise to do your will
Put all your foes to shame
Raise up Your servant-warriors
The Gospel to proclaim
Establish all the holy ones
By Jesus, clothed in white
Delivered from the dark domain (Colossians 1:13)
Now heirs and saints in light (Colossians 1:12)
As stars by Your decree burn bright
And summer flow’rs you dress
May we, Your church, in darkness shine
Adorned with righteousness
Bring peace within our borders, Lord (Psalm 147:14)
The wicked, cast them low (Psalm 147:6)
Tread down the serpent where our feet (Romans 16:20)
In mission boldly go
Oppose the rulers of this world (Ephesians 6:12)
Their power overwhelm
Call forth those in Your covenant
To plunder Satan’s realm
Upheld by Your almighty hand
Your saving grace to tell
With You we shall do valiantly
Your people shall prevail
Sent out as lambs amidst the wolves (Luke 10:3)
Yet, in Your hand we trust
That all rebellious hearts shall know
In all things, You are just
Though adversaries rise, Your Kingdom
They may never shake
For God the Son has won a Bride
His love shall not forsake
Though nations rage, with confidence
We make this bold address:
“O God, arise to do Your will
And reign in righteousness!”
Between the wrath of God and me
Once stood His Son, my shield
He, in my stead on Calvary
Bore ev'ry blow my sin would yield
Such sacrifice: a crimson flood
For hopeless sinners spilled
By this dear fount, His precious blood
The work is done, the law fulfilled
But for His love and might to save
Lost, I would perish in the strife
My sin had plunged me to the grave
In Christ I'm raised from death to life
As barren bones in desserts dry
I'd naught but death within
Yet life's own Maker, born to die
Exchanged His righteousness for sin
Because the great, immortal King
In mortals' place was slain
This song of hope, I now may sing:
"To live is Christ; to die is gain!"
V1 Are you not good? Do I not have your favor? Is all my hope in vain that I have such a Savior: A Lord who’s near, near to the brokenhearted Who hears the righteous cry and saves the crushed in Spirit? When all other ground gives way Still my breaking voice will say
C I will rest on who You are For who You are is sure Eternal and Unchanging One Your promises endure When all I have is this On who You are, God, I will rest
V2 Should I have doubt? My faith is greatly shaken My feet can scarcely stand on Christ, the sure foundation In my own strength, I’d fall in but a moment So hold fast to me now for, Jesus, I am broken When all other ground gives way Though this weary heart you slay
V3 Are you not love? Do you not have compassion Are you not moved that I, your child, feel so abandoned? I know you hear; I am not lost in silence In my heart hides your Word, a well of deep assurance When all other ground gives way You remain my hope and stay
V1 Lord above all mere existence Condescended King who crossed That impassable sin-distance To restore what man had lost Christ departed Heaven’s glory When my heart would ever roam To fulfill redemption’s story And to bring this wand’rer home
C The Lamb and Lion of the tribe of Judah Went to the cross and won the victory I cannot keep from singing, “Hallelujah!” His sacrifice and triumph set me free So, I will heed His call: “Follow me”
V2 My companion on this journey To the Sovereign’s holy throne: My High Priest, has gone before me Not a step I walk alone When the passage leads through valleys In this dark and weary land This His promise: never shall these Separate me from His hand
V3 All the days of my sojourning He shall lead me t’ward the goal Through my wavering and turning For His praise, preserves my soul Until death, that final portal I traverse the trail He blazed What assurance mine! Though mortal Unto life I shall be raised
B From the grave to glory From the tomb to triumph From the darkness to the dawn I’ll follow Christ who bids me come
My Help and my Hope: high above, ever near
Unto Your servant incline now Your ear
Though fleeting this breath You have given to me
Poured out like water, a drop in the sea
Yes brief are my days, but Yours without end
Still my voice You hear; to my cry You attend
What wonderful joy! What marvelous peace!
Your aid shall not fail me, Your grace never cease
O, be my salvation, my ark on the wave
When storms of sin would sink me to the grave
For darkness appears and the clouds hasten night
Fix my eyes firmly on Your dawning light
If not for the Lamb, torn that I be whole
The thorn of the curse would lie cut through my soul
What favor abounds! What riches untold!
Yourself, my possession; Your Word mine to hold
What debt must be settled? What more could You give?
Love’s work is finished; by death now I live
So plant me to grow and then prune me to bear
In Christ abiding, upheld by Your care
To stranger and kin will I testify–
Till all breath is spent and to my gain I die–
That You hear and have regarded my plea
My Help and my Hope You forever shall be
I used to come up with a catchy melody and one good line, sit down for 20 minutes, write down the first rhymes that came to me, and call a song finished. Those songs have since disappeared.
These days, writing a song takes months or years. Much of that time is spent with the song put away, focused on other things. This time away from a song allows me to be more objective when I need to be critical of it and make revisions. Sure, it’s possible to write a great song in a matter of minutes–but that is simply not the norm. Time is an ingredient songwriters mustn’t neglect.
It’s so encouraging to read successful songwriters tell of struggling with a song for months and years. Sure, it’s great to know they’re human like me, but the greatest encouragement comes from knowing I’m on the right track and haven’t been wasting my time. I’m on the older side of 40 years of age now. I don’t have nearly the time I had when I started writing songs as a young lad–time as in both availability AND longevity. As a husband, dad, assistant pastor, and instructor it’s hard to carve out time to focus on writing; as a 40+ man, I have to make the time if I’m ever going to get it done.
I want to leave behind songs that bless the church long after I’m gone. In order for my writing to be timeless, I have to give it time. You too, young songwriter, should learn to give songs time–a lot of time. Those professional songwriters I mentioned earlier who say it takes months and months to write? Unfortunately, I didn’t learn it from them; I figured it out for myself through trial and error. I wish I HAD read them years ago because there’s so much I had to figure out on my own, learning and maturing over years …. Don’t reinvent the wheel: learn from me and my mistakes.
Save time now that you can give to your songs later.
There are melodies, verses, choruses, bridges, and lyrics on which I’ve been ruminating for years. Finding their fit has proven difficult, even intimidating, and possibly impossible! But I’ll keep at it and won’t let myself settle. I’ll only present to the church songs I think are worthy of her precious time.
What a peace, thy life surrendered Won for sinners such as me And thy resurrection rendered Death a sting-less enemy
I’ve no fear of all tomorrows Thou dost ever hold me fast Soon shall end all earthly sorrows When I see thy face at last
I was listening to the Kings Kaleidoscope version of “Come Thou Fount” a few weeks ago, and had recently read Psalm 136 as part of my evening Bible reading. Verse 23 jumped out at me:
It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
” … remembered us in our low estate” is particularly poetic, and the wording seemed like it would be a great fit in the “Come Thou Fount” melody. Since I like to write new verses for old hymns, I got to work.
The line straight from Psalm 136:23 eventually morphed into something else, so I plan to use it in the future. But it did inspire a stanza with which I’m very pleased.
I can’t recall as much of what I read as I used to, and I don’t have the time to study and build up knowledge as I would like. So, I read Scripture for songwriting, sermons, and personal study; and read books and articles by those with far greater knowledge and education than I, and I wind up thinking, “Why am I even trying to contribute? I know so little!”
Thankfully, I know as long as I preach and sing according to God’s Word, even if it is on the simple side, God uses it. God uses me. ME! as a means for his glory.