1. Come Celebrate
I had wanted to convey the expression of our grateful hearts in response to what God has done for us through Jesus. In 2011, while studying my first year at Bible College, I grabbed the guitar on several occasions at home and around college and chipped away at this song over a few weeks. Later on the bridge was shortened and new lines added in the chorus: “With the saints” to express that togetherness with other Christians in singing these words to God, and “Sing out loud, let joy resound” to further develop that feel of uncontained praise and celebration that we as God’s people share. We all too often get caught up in the world and all the issues we face. Sometimes we need to take a step back and rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Luke 10:20). We lose perspective all too easily, so this song hopefully also serves as reminder that, “We have every reason to celebrate”!
. . . . .
2. Merciful To Me
Mercy. An attribute of God’s character we owe our lives to. The very reason we continue to exist is because of mercy. The reason God allows people across the earth to continue eating and breathing (while still rejecting His Son) is mercy. But by far the most extraordinary demonstration of His mercy is seeking out an undeserving, utterly sinful people for His own possession, rescuing them from the wrath they deserve for their rebellion, by giving His only beloved Son to die for their crimes, and setting them apart to live holy lives for His own glory. Now that is mercy! Reflect in your own life on the mercy and kindness God has shown – and praise Him for it! This song is pretty much the way I originally wrote it on the piano, back a few years. It’s one I’ve kept coming back to and lifting up to God in thankfulness. Mercy, wonderful mercy!
. . . . .
3. Let The Name Of The Lord Be Praised
A few years back, in the little living room (with hideous carpet) of the suburban house I was flatting in with a good mate from church, I sat with the guitar and wrote a song based on the beginning of Psalm 113. I’d recently heard somewhere that this was one of the Psalms likely sung as a hymn by the Jews during the Passover remembrance – and so therefore Jesus may have sung it in the week leading up to His crucifixion (perhaps even on the night of the Last Supper – Mark 14:26). This inspired me to rewrite it to a new tune, two millennia later. The simple line – “Let the name of the Lord be praised. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:2-3 - NIV), captured me, and I wanted to further develop that idea: through our trials, through our joys, while we work and rest, even in our play. I had written the words and sang out the melody before the day was out. The local church I was a member of was soon singing the simple song of praise declaring God’s worthiness to be praised at all times, during all seasons.
. . . . .
4. Be Praised
Originally I had written this piano-based song with a completely different chorus, and the current chorus as the pre-chorus. Tom Mepham helped with some song-surgery, and the result was a stronger, catchier, livelier, more worshipful item. Simple in music, simple in melody. Simple in expressing to the Lord the joy of a people overwhelmed by His tremendous grace and love. Adding some guitars, solid bass, and good drums – helped add to make a full, warm, and joyful feel. When we’re doing whatever else we do throughout the day – God always deserves to be praised!
. . . . .
5. Jesus Is King
I had been reflecting a lot on what it means that Jesus is Lord and King over our lives. Of course there is the future reality Scripture presents of Jesus’ return to this earth and reign over all things, but until then He still reigns in some sense as King of His people. His rule is everlasting – in fact amazingly the Apostle John reveals that Jesus Christ was the holy and glorious enthroned Being the prophet Isaiah saw almost a thousand years before Jesus was born as baby in Bethlehem (John 12:41). He was reigning as eternal Lord and King then, before laying aside His majesty to come on earth for a mission – to save sinners, before being enthroned again at His ascension after His death and resurrection accomplished this salvation. Although this world is still yet to ultimately come under Jesus’ Kingship, which will happen at His coming again – for His people, He is still reigning Lord and King who they live their lives before in worship and joyful submission.
. . . . .
6. On Your Throne
A guitar in hand, I sat outside on a rock with the mountains all around. Looking about and marvelling at the beauty, I reflected on God’s holiness and majesty. I was in awe at how set apart and different God is from all His creation. He doesn’t even compare, He’s that much greater and more glorious and pure. I started singing the first verse of the song, and then the chorus came quite naturally – a declaration of God’s reign and sovereign rule. Even with many nations in turmoil, God still is in ultimate control, not only of the big picture, but of every small detail entwined in history. The Psalmist declares, “Our God is in heavens; he does as that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3 - ESV). That is the truth. And it always will be. What a comfort, what a reassurance. To think that our infinite and endless God always has all things in control. And one day, we’ll see with our own eyes the One we’ve believed in and followed by faith (Revelation 22:3-4). The majesty of our great and mighty Ruler will be fully revealed before our eyes – how awesome will be the sight!
. . . . .
7. Adore Him
In a time of concentrated musical creativity, with songs bursting forth at all hours of the day and night, I came to the point of simply wanting to express my adoration of Christ, and so this song arose. Originally repeating “We adore You” four times in the chorus, I later added “Lord Jesus Christ, be glorified” to replace the second two and bring focus to Who the song is being sung to, and also simplified the bridge. For this project, we’ve tried to create a clappable and upbeat song, especially with drums and piano bringing more life to the original acoustic track. The bridge contains a prayer that I hope becomes your prayer and the reality in your life also – that our God of all grace would receive all our praise, and always be lifted high in all of our lives. What a noble and exciting goal!
. . . . .
8. Great Is Your Name
Another occasion, while playing a simple pattern on the guitar, I began to sing out my heart to the Lord and proclaim how great He is. The words just flowed. And soon, a song was sitting there. I decided to use this song, first because of its simplicity which suited the vision of the project nicely, and also I felt this album needed a gentler track – still worshipful, but a little more reflective in the midst of some stronger ballads. The verses reflect on different aspects of God’s greatness and how that greatness is revealed to the world He’s created.
. . . . .
9. Mighty Father
It had been over a year since I’d written any songs. One day Tom Mepham (who produced this album) said to me something along the lines of “Benji, why don’t you write a song?” With barely any thought or hesitation, I replied to the affirmative, saying “it’s going to be called Mighty Father”! I don’t know where that came from, but it stuck – and I soon set out to write it. In only a few weeks, it was completed from start to finish. I loved the thought of our heavenly Father; the picture of intimacy, deep love, and tender care of His adopted children – and at the same time His might and strength; not forgetting who our Father is. That He is the glorious One, reigning over every nation and every detail in all of history. Mighty Father. And a prayer that He would show His power for all the world to see – working wonders in our time; above all through rescuing eternally lost souls and building His church, for our mighty Father is mighty to redeem! Originally the song had an instrumental, which an earlier recording contained, but for the sake of being a song congregations could take and use more easily, I removed it for this project. But I just couldn’t take out the key change, and so that’s remained.
. . . . .
At the beginning of a new year, songs of praise were bursting forth. While in a church service one morning, I was just overflowing with thankfulness to God for all that He had provided and given – even just the breath I was breathing that morning, and the birds, and the clouds, and the sunshine. And more than anything, I was filled with such gratitude for the eternal life and inheritance beyond comprehension that had been given me, not because of anything deserving in me, but because of the finished work of Christ which I had placed my hope and trust in. I started singing the chorus in my mind during the service – and no I don’t remember the sermon from that day! At home I sat down with the guitar and wrote out the verses. And within a few days of reworking, ‘Gratitude’ had been expressed!
. . . . .
11. He Saves
For around two years, I was involved in outreach in the community my church in Dunedin was based in. With a small team of people, I went door to door asking questions and just having conversation with people of all backgrounds and walks of life, and sharing Christ when opportunities arose. One grey morning nearing Christmas, the rain prevented us from going out. So instead, I sat at the church piano and decided to start writing a Christmas song. While reading the Biblical narrative of the incarnation, I was struck with a verse in Matthew’s gospel where an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him regarding his betrothed Mary, “She will bear a son. And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 - ESV) Read it again. I realised that even though we celebrate Jesus being born as a baby, the very reason that He was born was for a great and wonderful purpose – to save His people from their sins! What a wonderful reality. I realised the message of Christmas actually encompassed His whole life, ministry, and ultimately His death on the cross to bear our sins. He lived to die! That was His whole mission – a rescue. And He humbly submitted to His Father’s will in accomplishing this. So I continued to write verses, about His life, death, resurrection, and future coming. All of this is the message of Christmas. We should rejoice! Because the Messiah came to the world to save.
. . . . .
12. To Him Be The Glory
One morning while sitting in a church service, I was drawn to the Apostle Paul’s benediction in Romans 11:33-36, where having written about God’s salvation, and plan for Israel and the Gentiles, he could go no further without pouring out an expression of praise at God’s mighty wisdom and power. He concludes by saying that His whole plan of redemption is all for His own glory. The idea struck me to take that wonderfully rich Scripture and simply put it to music. Later that day, as I sat in front of the piano up at our family’s stone cottage breathtakingly set up in the mountains, I set to the task, and within a few hours had the main backbone of the song written. Sometimes they just flow out. Apart from a little reworking later on to remove some more complex chord changes, the song has basically remained the same from the day I wrote it. After thinking for a long time about the theme of the album, I decided on ‘To Him Be the Glory’, because it so fittingly conveyed what I wanted the album to do – above all else to bring God glory. I desire to see the songs used to bless and encourage God’s people, but more importantly that God Himself would be highly honoured and revered, and pleased with the offering of praise as His people lift up these songs of worship from their hearts. My prayer and desire is that these songs would centre many people’s focus on God and His character, and His Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ – for His glory. Amen!