First of all, straight off the bat, and right up front … sorry for not updating this site more often. Whilst it still serves its primary purpose as a repository for all of my songs, the fact that most of them are first introduced in full by theREIGN these days has served to muddy the waters here, in terms of launching them on the site with freebie downloads, audio files and all that stuff. It is a weird balancing act between getting the songs out there, as I am called to do and giving theREIGN the opportunity to use the songs and gain some benefit from recording them.
If I record a demo and put it out on TFKM for everyone to download, there is limited scope for the band to really make a song their own as a recording, and it does make it more difficult for us to cover the costs of recording if I make it possible for everyone to get a version of the song for nothing well in advance of that happening. I don’t think I have quite got the balance right yet.
All of which is not to make excuses for letting the site stagnate a little bit (although the Calendar is always up to date), I just want to try and give my actual excuses to some better context.
The combination of family, worship leading, theREIGN, work and university have made it very difficult to keep on top of everything internet so, as I said at the top … sorry. I can’t promise that everything will be slicker and more up to date from here on, but I will try.
The major thing for me over the last few months has been a surprising and inspiring clarity of purpose for my songwriting in particular, and my general ministry in broader terms.
Over the last couple of years I have become “concerned” (not really the right word but the closest I can get) that I am constantly fighting against my songs all being about the same things, as if I have nothing else to say. If you have been paying attention to my writing, and heard some of my recent songs: Every Sound I Make, Never Failing Love, One Eternal Flame, We Are Yours being the most striking (but not only) examples, there are two themes that run unquestionably through them.
First, the marriage of the eternal and the personal, starting off the song with a vision of God as a mighty creator, Lord of the whole universe, etc. and then moving onto a vision of God as one who loves us as individuals and sent his own Son to die for each one of us because he loved us. Those two things might be at the heart of the Christian message, but as a songwriter, do I really want to spend all my time singing about generalities like that? I though not … more on that in a moment.
Secondly, starting with Where Jesus Touches the Earth, a lot of my writing is a plea for God’s people to rise up and be salt and light in the world. Again, a fundamental spiritual message but one that is inherently broad and general in nature.
In the case of each of these songs, with the possible exception of Never Failing Love I tried to move them in different directions, but in the end had to concede defeat (something you tend to have to do when you try to second guess what God is wanting from you).
And then, just prior to Christmas, as I was struggling with the same issues with the then half finished We Are Yours, God suddenly made his purpose clear to me. I am paraphrasing massively here, but he basically told me that these songs were needed. That is a big thing to hear, let me tell you. In the same way as he inspired me several years ago to tend my songwriting towards songs written from the collective, focussing on the body of the church (i.e. from “we” and “us”) rather than focussing on the individual (“me” and “I”) this was simply the next step he wanted me to take … not just singing songs which bind us together in worship, but singing songs that bind us together in a commitment not just to worship for worship’s sake, but to worship as preparation for ministry and action in our families and in our communities. And in the wider world.
In light of that revelation suddenly all of those songs make sense, and I can see a distinct pattern running through them moving from one to another. That doesn’t come from my addled little brain that is for certain. I take significant solace in the fact that I am not in ultimate control of my writing … that, even when I don’t feel like I am hearing directly the word of God for my songwriting, it is clearly getting through to me and I am able to respond (with or without the bar fight that goes with it).
I will be looking to get all of my songs up here (there are half a dozen or so that aren’t on the site at all at the moment) in some form or another over the next few months. Certainly once we hit the university summer vacation in 6 weeks time, I should have more space to get some files and recordings put together.
I hope you like them, and feel able to give them a whirl in your churches.