Last May I had the joy of leading worship in song at the Next conference along with three bands, including Generation Letter. One of the songs we sang, “Only Jesus,” was written by Doug Plank and based on a prayer in The Valley of Vision. I asked Doug what he was thinking when he wrote the song:
I don’t think I’ve ever before (or likely will again) be so inspired by a mere two words in songwriting. While writing a song for the “Valley of Vision” project I stumbled on the poem, “The Life Look.” One particular line struck me: “May my cry be always, Only Jesus! Only Jesus!” Once those two words were located, it really was only a matter of time, chord progressions, and editing to bring the song to fruition.
The theological and deeply emotional meaning to these two words make up the sum of my regenerated existence, with a cry for mercy, grace and protection wrapped inside. The punch of those two words for me was similar to the effect of the refrain from the old spiritual, “Give Me Jesus”: the preciousness of Jesus Christ in comparison to a crumbling world makes for the selling of all that one has to purchase a pearl of great price. “Only Jesus!” naturally made for the starting point and central part of the song.
As for the verses, I wanted to go Trinitarian – and show, somehow, that the Father’s desire and the Spirit’s purpose flow through Jesus. In that sense, Jesus has become for the sinner the touchstone of the Godhead. The Father is glorified as I pour out my heart to the Savior. The Spirit is active as my heart perceives Jesus’ greatness and responds with love and affection.
The tag came last in songwriting, almost an afterthought. As I recorded demos of the song and reviewed the lyrics over and again, I felt that the song needed a simple and devotional confession of the Savior – much as Simon Peter’s confession of Christ in Matthew 16:16 and Mark 8:29. There is nothing sweeter for the Christian than a heartfelt confession of Jesus.
Here are the words:
Father of grace, You’ve sacrificed
Your only Son for us, the crucified Jesus
Enlarge our hearts to love Your Son
O grant to us the grace to walk with Him always
To make Him our great delight
Bringing worship with our lives
Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
Give us Jesus, we cry
Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
The Pearl of greatest price
Spirit of grace, You’ve shed Your light
Upon our darkened eyes, unveiling Jesus Christ
Come change our hearts, conform our ways
To honor Jesus’ Name, His glory our refrain
Let His love compel our own,
As we worship at His throne
Jesus, our great Savior
Lord of heaven, Son of God
© 2005 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP). International administration by Integrity Music.
You can download the guitar chart here, and watch it on Vimeo here.
I love this song!
You guys should also post Zelos singing “Before the Throne” with the chorus of “How He Loves Us”. A well done mash up!
I know you shouldn’t cater to requests but what about in a post on how to do mash ups on a sunday morning?
Juan, thanks! I’m assuming a mash up is when you put two songs together?
Bob – The last line of the chorus equating Jesus as the Pearl of greatest price. I have always interpreted the pearl as being the church and Jesus the merchant. It goes along with the treasure in the field as well. Jesus purchased the whole field (the world) in order to purchase the treasure (the church). Do you interpret this differently?
Thomas, I do interpret the parable differently, in line with Jesus’ words that “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mk. 10:29-30). Jesus tells one parable about a man finding a field with a treasure, but the next parable is about a man selling all he has to buy one pearl (Mt. 13:44-45). Not sure how either of those can be interpreted to mean that we are the treasure Jesus was seeking.
Great song. I really want to thank the SG Music family. We are using a lot more of your music in our church. I also wanted to share a blog post I wrote about SG Music.
Bob, thanks for posting this. Great song for sure.
What a refreshing thought! Only Jesus!
Risen Lamb our great Savior…thanks Bob for your ministry….