I’ve thought about how to approach writing this song story quite a few times now. The struggle of how to approach this somehow seems like it might feel more noble if it were because I had something complicated I was trying to say very precisely or something uniquely profound that I just didn’t quite know how to communicate.
Now, far be it from me to insinuate that something out of the book of Revelation isn’t uniquely profound, but to be perfectly honest I struggled with this song story mostly because I didn’t really feel like the story of this song had much to say.
We’ll come back to that initial thought here in a bit, but for now let me just say that if you’ve ever heard the song Almighty One and read the book of Revelation then you already have a pretty good idea what this song is all about.
In chapter 4, a chapter titled The Throne of Heaven, John describes four creatures in the throne room of heaven who endlessly declare, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and is, and is to come.” The scene is profound, startling, beautiful and an all-around fear of God kind of moment.
I remember when I first wrote the bridge of this song, it was a little different and a bit wordier back then. The cadence didn’t quite flow off the tongue quite as well as it does now, but the heart of it was the exact same.
I WANTED TO SING THE SONG OF HEAVEN.
I was enthralled by this idea of how the very throne room of heaven was and is worshiping God who appears like jasper and ruby, is encircled by a rainbow that shines like emerald, and is surrounded by flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder. I wanted our church to join in with the same words that are being said to God in the throne room of heaven. I wanted to join in with those same words.
As an artist, an artist who is a Christian and sometimes even a Christian artist, I hold to this belief that the art that I create has no reason to be anything other than excellent. Compromise is a something of a dirty word. If the art I create is inspired by and for the Creator of every last thing that is beautiful then how could I even begin to settle for anything less than impeccable? In a certain way of thinking using words that someone else wrote as the lyrics to a song seems like a bit of a shortcut, which you’d be able to argue toes a line very close to compromise. I didn’t feel that way with this song though.
IF THOSE WORDS WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO BE SUNG IN THE THRONE ROOM, THEN SURELY THEY WERE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME TO SING.
I’m particularly moved by the thought of singing along with heaven, worshiping an immeasurably powerful, unspeakably worthy God who deemed those words acceptable to be sung around his throne. For me it was enough to borrow from John and feel pretty fine about it.
So that’s how the song started, and I’d love to say that a few hours later it was finished. But nothing could be further from the truth. There were many moments during the writing of this song that I thought it wouldn’t actually ever get completed, that it would forever live as this little tune I’d written late one night in my living room. Truthfully, that would have been fine. There are lots of full songs, choruses, bridges, verses, etc. that will only ever live as melodies I sing by myself, alone, forget about and find months later in the voice memos app on my phone.
BUT I BELIEVE GOD HAD A BIGGER PLAN FOR THIS SONG.
Even though it took about a dozen or more writing sessions, four different verses, three different choruses and two versions of the bridge, all in various combinations, the song did eventually get finished.
Over the course of those writing sessions I remember saying over and over again things like, “I feel like this song is all about the bridge, if we can make the bridge work then we’ll have the song.”
I’m so thankful to have written this song with James Mark Gulley and Thomas Wilson, and I’m equally thankful that they share my incessant feelings about compromise. Multiple times throughout the creation of this song I thought we had something that we could put the “finished” stamp on. Then we’d rehearse it or play it in a service and one of them would come back to me and say something like, “I don’t know something just doesn’t feel right. I think we need to rework that.”
This song was a very long process. At one point or another, we each questioned whether or not the song would get finished. But here we are today, the song finally has the “finished” stamp and I am truly proud of the effort that went into it so our church could join in with the song of heaven.
Now we’re back to where we started at the beginning of this post. A few days ago, I believed the story of this song was so simple it didn’t really seem worth telling. I wrote a version of this song at my house about worshiping like heaven. It was just OK. We wrote and wrote and wrote and finally here we are.
I’ve read a decent amount of song stories, particularly song stories for worship songs and sometimes it feels like these things have to self-contain a devotional worthy of your morning quiet time while trying to explain how the song came about. I was daunted by writing this because I didn’t feel like I had that.
Just like Almighty One though, sometimes it takes writing, and writing, and examining, and reworking to really mine out the heart of something.
SOMETIMES YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MINING FOR AND SOMETIMES YOU FIND IT ONCE YOU GET THERE.
Writing songs for the church is an interesting thing. There’s a pressure to be profound, to write songs out of life-changing moments and the truth, at least for me, is simply that sometimes that’s just not the case. The original seed of a song that would eventually become Almighty One was very much a product of the mundane. Sometimes I sit with a guitar and try to put melody and words to the things I feel like the Lord puts on my heart. More than a year later, after much effort, the help of a dedicated community and choosing to believe that this thing the Lord had spoken was actually something valuable, what began as a product of the mundane the Lord turned into something beautiful.
In that way the story of this song comes into focus, and I can’t help but be reminded of Luke 16:10 –
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…
Sometimes when I look back I’m able to see things that happened in my life with fresh perspective. Dots that previously seemed unrelated all of a sudden become connected in a way that declare the faithfulness of God that seems impossible to have missed.
Almighty One is a song we fought for. There were times it seemed like it wouldn’t happen, but we pressed on. Just like He promised, the Lord was faithful in return. Thank You God for a promise of much when we’re faithful in the little. Thank You that You were faithful, You are faithful and You will be faithful.
Listen to Almighty One on AntiochLIVE’s new album, History’s Anthem.
By Brooks Whitehurst – AntiochLIVE