Friday, June 22, 2012

Song Story: 'Holy Lord'

Probably the most straight-forward corporate worship song on the EP, 'Holy Lord' was honestly inspired by the massive feedback I received about the song 'You Are' on my first record.  Songs flooded with scripture references that teach biblical truths as we worship and are primarily about God, not us, seem to be in short supply according to many.  With that in mind, the lyric of 'Holy Lord' began re-forming.

I say re-forming because this is one of those songs that I actually wrote over several years... and one of the only songs I can think of that was completely written, evaluated, dismantled, tossed and re-written with exception of the chorus only.  I actually played the first version of this one in a worship set in our church... once. The feedback I got was quite simply "I liked the chorus a lot." I think I knew in my heart it wasn't as strong as it could be, but playing it in a worship set really solidified that thought. So... the verses, pre-choruses and bridge--melody, chords and lyrics alike--were tossed. That's when I shifted my focus on the lyric toward the trinity.  Holiness... divinity... they're kinda crazy concepts in a lot of ways, you know? I often talk just before leading this song about words in our language being limiting. We say we love God, but also that we love coffee, or Butterfinger Blizzards. We so often sing of our Amazing God but use the same word to describe our favorite sit-com or a football game. As I sat back and thought about the word 'holy' I wanted to elaborate on that which makes God so much bigger and more (insert any superlative adjective--or string of them for that matter) than the things of this world.

So, I decided to really hone in on the trinity--a concept that is arguably underemphasized in the modern worship genre as a whole--and truly one of the remarkable traits of God that we scarcely even understand. So I scoured scripture for thoughts on the three entities of the Godhead and wrote them into the verses. Verse one is about the Father, verse two is about Jesus, and verse three is about the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, when we worship in spirit and TRUTH, I believe its important to have a knowledge of the distinct roles of the trinity and the fullness of the God we are worshiping. I hope this song finds a home in churches across the nation and world, and that it helps worshipers become truly awestruck at the vast, incomprehensible nature of God.

On the theory-geek side of things, this one is pretty simple. I'd have to say that my favorite part of this one as a songwriter is probably the short pre-chorus, which kind of becomes a 2nd bridge later in the song. As with the song 'Here With You,' the piano is primarily just two notes in the right hand over moving bass notes in the verses and pre-chorus. This creates really open voicings, but often times very rich tensions in the chords. The one and five in the right hand create a seven and eleven, respectively, as the pre-chorus is introduced with a two in the bass. The two-note melody line repeats itself as the bass climbs up and has a nice resolution on the four, I think. This was one of those little fragments of a song that fell out of me, as if it was given to me rather than thought of by me.  I tend to like those little moments more than the stuff I labor over.  Other than that, the other noticeably odd thing here is in the start of the chorus. The one chord moves to a four but with the bass maintaining the one. I don't know, it has kind of a lofty feel in the midst of a pop song, which probably inspired the word 'holy' in the first place.

I'm two thirds done with these... excited to talk about 'Transformed' and then 'Beautiful Truth' here in the coming weeks.  Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to grab your copy of the EP if you haven't already and ten or twenty more for all the other people you know in the world who have never heard of me. :)  Until next time...


Jennifer said...

I love hearing the full effort that goes into writing a song. It's good to know that the words you choose are first and foremost accurate and poetic and lyrical second. You did both so well on this one! It's my favorite (I say that about all of them).

Mark Roach said...

Thanks, Jennifer! Oh! and I totally forgot to link peeps to the blog you wrote referencing this tune!

You may need to relink to the new version, though, eh? :-)