Story Behind “The Father’s Love” from Sons & Daughters

m4270-00-21_l1This past Sunday at my home church, we taught one of the songs from Sons & DaughtersThe Father’s Love. It’s an uptempo song that elaborates on the theme of 1 John 3:1: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

It was written by Joel Sczebel, who’s dad, Pat, has been writing songs for Sovereign Grace for years. Pat has done a brilliant job passing on his love for the Savior, the church, and music to his kids. I asked Joel about how this song came together and here’s what he wrote:

“The song was essentially born out of a quiet time where I was meditating on the doctrine of adoption. A question seemed to keep coming up and that was ‘how can this be?’. How have rebels come to be children of God? The answer was always ‘through the Father’s love for us’, and at that point I realized that that was probably a song waiting to be written so I pulled out a guitar and started to jam away at it.

The first draft of the song was relatively easy to write because the structure of ideas and much of the wording was already fairly set in my mind. I knew that I wanted to start with a series of questions about how sinners have come to be children of God, let the chorus provide the answer and a response, and then let the second verse describe our present reality, living in the goodness of His grace. After about 30-45 minutes I had a first verse, the chorus (which would undergo considerable changes later on), a second verse (which would be completely rewritten), and the melody which remained throughout all the other changes. I sent the song to Bob Kauflin to see if he thought it had any potential and whether he had any thoughts on how it could be better.

When Bob first responded to the song he didn’t seem too convinced that it would work and sent me a different melody that he thought was more celebratory. But I didn’t really like it so I decided to write a new melody and send it to him. After that he listened to the first version again and decided the original melody was better and it was just the words that needed some work. The chorus was changed to be more responsive and less repetitive, I fully rewrote the second verse and wrote probably 5 versions of a bridge with different melodies and lyrics. It took around a month of emailing ideas and changes back and forth before the song was in it’s final state.”

To give you an idea of the changes Joel made, here’s the original second verse:

Oh you have showered us with kindness
A mighty ocean, measureless
Much more than our praises can express
You freely give your Spirit to us
Helping us lean on His sweet grace
Helping us long to see His face

Here’s the final version of verse 2:

Your mercy floods our lives with kindness
Your grace has colored all we see
And You have promised not to leave
You freely give Your Spirit to us
So we can be sure we’re sons of God
And rest in the hope of what’s to come

The process Joel went through isn’t unusual for our songwriters and teaches some valuable lessons.

  • Worship songs are often the result of seeking to apply Scripture to our own lives.
  • They take hard work, even after you feel like you’ve already been inspired.
  • And great songs are often the product of humility. Joel sought not only my thoughts, but his dad’s.

You can listen to a sample and download the guitar chart and lead sheet at the Sovereign Grace webstore.

8 Responses to Story Behind “The Father’s Love” from Sons & Daughters

  1. Kyle September 30, 2009 at 11:33 AM #

    I love the example of humility we have in this collaborative songwriting effort. It’s so common for those of us who write songs to be defensive and selfish when it comes to our lyrics and melodies, but no one is really served by my stubborn refusal to accept others’ perspectives and ideas. Thanks for sharing this, and thanks to Joel for the humility, wisdom, and skill to write such a great song! (We’ve been singing it in our church for about a month now.) And thanks to God for such great love!

  2. Mike Ruel September 30, 2009 at 1:17 PM #

    Thanks for the post. It’s great to hear the background on this song.

    We have added this to our song list at church and it is blessing our body!

  3. Peter Gagnon September 30, 2009 at 7:19 PM #

    Excellent! Thanks guys!

  4. Mark Nichols October 3, 2009 at 11:46 PM #

    Thanks for sharing the process that accompanies the inspiration. As someone who has found writing songs difficult, it encourages me to keep plugging away, especially seeing how it doesn’t just “happen” for experienced writers either. I heard similar stories from Keith Getty at the Worship conference this summer. According to Keith, they spend 12-15 months on each song and “In Christ Alone” began as 30+ verses that they edited down to 4.

  5. Cortney Matz October 6, 2009 at 10:03 AM #

    Wow. This is soooo so so encouraging. Bob, I need to read your blog more often.

  6. Tom Holloway October 12, 2009 at 1:38 PM #

    Do you have chord charts that I can download anywhere? I love this song, and have just gotten turned on to it from a college student in my church. I’m the worship pastor, and couldn’t find anything on ccli


  7. emily October 23, 2009 at 3:09 PM #

    that second verse brings tears to my eyes nearly every time i sing it.

    mercy, kindness, grace, promised not to leave, freely, we can be sure, rest in hope. what great amazing promises!!!

    i love this song. i’m grateful for the work that you all put into it. it is such a great reminder of who God is. thank you!


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    […] Click here to continue reading about this great song about the gracious doctrine of adoption. […]

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