I’ve been composing songs for forty years now. That’s a long time.
In high school, my songs were very functional; I wrote them to meet girls. It wasn’t the most original plan, but it worked. A girl would catch my eye, and rather than introduce myself like a normal person, I’d go home and write her a song. The next day, I’d casually mention that I had written a song just for her. Did she want to hear it? It was pretty effective.
As you might expect, my reasons for writing songs have changed (due in part to the fact that I’ve been married for 31 years to the most amazing girl I’ve ever met). I now devote most of my song-writing efforts to songs for corporate worship.
I love writing songs. My good friend, Jeff Purswell, says I don’t do it enough. He’s right. Especially since I’ve seen God again and again take my feeble efforts and use them to encourage others for his glory. His kindness never ceases to amaze me.
About a year and a half ago I was struggling to write a song for our Valley of Vision CD. The song was called “In the Valley,” and I probably wrote about five or six versions of it.
Today I received an e-mail from a woman whose husband is a PCA chaplain in the Army. She is a fine pianist, and has the opportunity to serve the families of Ft. Bragg, where they’re currently stationed. She wrote:
Through tears I tell you that I have had the honor to play for the memorial services of several soldiers in these past months. And the most requested song for these services is “In the Valley”. I have a dear friend who sings as beautifully as Vikki [Cook] and Shannon [Harris] and is also a PCA chaplain’s wife, and we’ve teamed up on many and various occasions – almost always doing Sovereign Grace songs. And when she sings “Let me find Your grace in the valley, let me find Your life in my death, let me find Your joy in my sorrow” – there is always an outpouring of emotion. Now I know the song was not necessarily meant to be sung at funerals and memorial services, but the song strikes a chord with those who are suffering the deepest anguish they’ve ever known. And more importantly, it points those who are sorrowing to God. The military is a mission field, and these memorial services bring the opportunity to openly present The Gospel to many soldiers, most of whom are not believers. The song tells them that the Lord is “near with every breath in the valley” – a powerful piece of comfort, something the chaplains really expound upon in these services.
I had no idea when I was working on the lyrics to “In the Valley” that one day God would use it to minister to families who had lost their loved ones in a war. But it’s like that with all of God’s gifts. We never know what kind of fruit he’s going to bear through them. We’re just responsible to be faithful to develop and use them. And even that is by his grace.
May you be encouraged by the thought that God may use what you’re faithfully doing in secret today to serve others you may never meet in the future.
When I read this this morning I was so blessed. It was the song “in the valley” that God used to heal me through a very difficult time this past year. He humbled me under His might hand and then proceeded to use this song to heal and restore me. Thank you so much for this song and for being available to the Lord in writing it.We use mostly Sovereign grace songs in our worship services, and the Lord has used them immeasurably to minister to His people. All Praise and Glory are His.
Grace and Peace,
I know this is a little late but I came across this post just this morning.
My Mom was admitted to a nursing home back in September, the day that she was admitted to the facility I received my copy of the Valley of Vision cd. What an amazing blessing! I kept hitting the repeat button on my cd player in the car listening to the first track, My Mom passed away this past October and I have had the Valley of Vision cd in heavy rotation!
I just wanted to pass along a word of encouragement and to say that I absolutely love the Sovereign Grace worship projects and I’m truly blessed by not only the musicianship, (of course I’m partial to the bass players since I am one myself!) but also to the careful attention paid to the lyrical content. It’s great to have these wonderful resources to keep my mind stayed on Jesus!
Love you guys, keep pressing on for the kingdom!
Thanks for your very meaningful and encouraging words.
I’ve recently been in a class that focused on worship and one comment made really came to mind when i was reading this post. It may not make a direct connection at face value, but i’ll do my best to explain the connection I saw. The comment was that the most influential theoligian within churches today is often the worship leader (or the person/team who chooses the song). This is true because the songs sung on sunday morning (or during any corporate worship service) are more memorable than any sermon. Tunes and melodies are simply catchy and can stick better in a persons’ mind. when I study for school, sometimes I’ll make my own songs just to remember lists or concepts. So to make the connection, I would take the comment even further outside of the church and say that for the general christian public of America, songwritters are the most influencial theologians.
This makes me think twice about taking on the task of even writting a song. I will always test my lyrics with the WORD to make sure what I am singing is really Truth, and not misleading, no matter how catchy it is.