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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Chris Tomlin: How His Songs Came to Be

Christomlin2 I mentioned in a previous post that Chris Tomlin is one of my favorite worship artists right now.  No sooner did I mention this that I received an interesting piece in the WorshipTogether.com email newsletter.  They talked with Chris about the stories behind some of his more popular songs:

Holy is the Lord
This song was inspired by the picture of worship around the throne of God in Isaiah 6.  The heavenly creatures sounding this anthem back and forth to one another.

                          Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
                          The whole earth is full of his glory

Louie Giglio helped complete the thought with another picture from Nehemiah, where the people joined in a mass assemblyA great example of corporate worship.  The Bible says they raised their hands to God at the hearing of his Word, they bowed with their faces to the ground and together made this statement,  "the joy of the Lord is our strength."

This is one of those last minute songs that doesn't happen that often.  The song was written by Laura Story.    Just before we were making the final revisions on the record, my producer showed me this song he had demoed with Laura.  I instantly fell in love with it because of the grandness and otherness it paints of God.  Yet at the same time, this all-powerful God knows the depths of our hearts.  Amazing God!

Unfailing Love
This song was co-written with my friend Cary Pierce.  In 03, God divinely crossed our paths together.  One night, after realizing I had lost the keys to my car, (which I often do) I stayed at his home and we were up all night playing and singing.  This was our first attempt at writing together.  Yes, God can use even our forgetfulness for His glory.

Your Grace is Enough
The band and I were leading at a Youth Specialties convention.  We were asked to back up a guy named Matt Maher for one of the sessions.  Matt handed us the chord charts and, with less than 5 minutes of practice, we were playing it live.  I fell in love with this song immediately.  You cant hear the message of Gods sufficient grace too many times.  Matt is a great lead worshiper and is a part of Life Teen, a growing worship movement in the Catholic Church. 

How Great is Our God
Another simple song that started from the thought of God's greatness and presence.  I love how Psalm 104 writes that "he wraps himself in light".  My hope is that it is simple enough to sing, yet profound enough to cause the heart and soul to stand in wonder.    I've already been overwhelmed from the response I've seen from this song.

On Our Side
I was talking to Ed Cash, our producer, about wanting a song that just brings joy in the room.  The next day he showed me this idea he had for a gospel-type song.  I instantly loved it.  I've never recorded a song like this before, but it was a blast.    Just hearing all the different singers light up the whole project for me. 

King of Glory
Inspired straight from Psalm 24.  I've always loved the picture of the people camped on the city walls shouting back and forth to one another  "Who is this King of glory,"  "The Lord, strong and mighty".

You Do All Things Well
Like most of my songs, this one was like making a quilt.  I had the chorus for some time, but not real happy with the verses that surrounded it.  Then, while reading a passage from Eugene Petersons interpretation of the Bible, The Message, the right verses came along.  I felt this was a perfect ending for this project.  I don't know a better way to say it then, "God, you do all things well!"  Be encouraged, God doesn't make mistakes. 

The Way I was Made
It was the first day I met Ed Cash, the man who would produce 'Arriving.'  I was playing him different songs and ideas for the record.  We were discussing which ones might 'make the cut' for this particular project.  I think I had played about 17 or 18 songs when he finally grabbed the guitar and showed me a little idea he had as well.  He played me the chorus and I was blown away.  He asked if I might like to give it a go, and, with the help of Jesse, we finished it.  The song is really the life ambition for all of us.  To shake loose of all the lesser things that hold us down and live this life to the fullest.

Mighty is the Power of the Cross
God has the right timing for all things.  This song has missed the final cut on several albums now.  But deep inside, Ive always known it was a song for the church and a song that I would record.  It was just never right with previous attempts.  I had co-written this one several years ago with a great lyricist, Shawn Craig.  I love the bareness of it.  It's the moment on the record for meall about the cross.

All Bow Down
The song that actually carries the title of the record.

    "You're arriving with the sound of thunder and rain"
    "You're arriving in the calm of the wind and the waves"
    "You're arriving in the glow of a burning flame"

It's a song about anticipation for God to come near to us.  And when he comes, he comes in many different ways.  But the great truth is that he does 'arrive' in our lives.  This holy, set apart, totally other God draws close to us.  I think of all of us like individual landing stripspreparing the way for his coming.

Thanks, Chris, for all the great songs!

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June 26, 2005 in Worship | Permalink

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