I Trust My Soul to You

Update 10/2/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

This is #6 of The Seven Last Words, in which Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) In the drama of the crucifixion, these words meant, “I’m ready to die.” But there is another layer of meaning, for Jesus and for us: Jesus committed himself–trusted his whole being–to God’s care. That should be our posture, too, both in our living and our dying.

To you, O Lord, I trust my soul.
I trust my soul to you.

My Refuge, with my last breath
I will call to you.
My Savior with my last breath
I will worship you.

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May We Thirst in You

Update 10/2/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

“I thirst” is the 5th word from the cross and the 5th song in my series of songs on The Seven Last Words. As I contemplated this short sentence, I was struck by a few things. First, Jesus–though God–still felt all the physical needs of being human, in this case, thirst. But that thirst points out a deeper spiritual question: How can the One who described himself as “Living Water” be thirsty?

I was always taught that having a relationship with Jesus would fill the “God-shaped vacuum” in my soul–my journey would be over and all the longings of my heart would be filled. I’m not so sure about that anymore. In fact, it feels like faith is simply the beginning of a journey on which there will be both thirsting and quenching.

The fact that Jesus felt his thirst in the midst of salvation’s work leads me to believe that it’s okay for me to continue to feel restless even as I have peace; unsatisfied, yet fulfilled.

1. Lord, you are the only well
From which living water flows;
But you were thirsty, too.
You were thirsty, too.

O Jesus when we thirst,
May we thirst in you.

2. We drink and the living streams
Well up within our souls,
Yet we are thirsty, too.
We are thirsty, too.

O Jesus when we thirst,
May we thirst in you.

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Set Us Free

Update 10/2/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

This fourth song of the “Seven Last Words” project has Jesus speaking some of the most desolate words of the Bible: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34) So why is my musical setting so upbeat? (“Irresistibly catchy” is what my son called it–and I think he meant it in a good way.)

The words Jesus uttered from the cross are actually a direct quote from Psalm 22. Back in Jesus’ time, they didn’t have Psalm numbers, so they just used the first phrase as a title. So Jesus was giving us a clue–“look in Psalm 22.” There we find the Psalmist surrounded by enemies but ultimately saved from the grasp of death.

If Jesus could trust God even on the cross, certainly we can cry out for deliverance even in the middle of pain, doubt, and despair.

We have suffered, but have not been forsaken;
brought low, but not left alone.
We’re surrounded by darkness, despair of the night,
but not without promise of dawn.

We will trust in the Lord.
God will set us free.
For the death that surrounds us is rising to life.
You will set us free.
You will set us free.

Stay with us in our darkest night
Stay, Lord, stay. Lord, please stay by our side.

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Love One Another

Update 10/6/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

#3 in the “Seven Last Words of Christ” series. The Gospel of John tells the story this way: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

It is touching that Jesus was taking care of his mother even while he was dying, but it is not surprising; John’s Gospel is all about love, from the famous “for God so loved the world” to the new commandment of the last supper, “love one another.” So a song about these last words of Christ should make us consider who our family is and how we can love them best.

Here is your son.
Here is your mother.
Here is your sister, father, and brother.
Hear Christ’s command:
love one another.
Love one another.

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By Your Side

Update 10/6/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

“By Your Side” is song #2 in my Seven Last Words of Christ series. This one is based on Luke 23:43 “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” We understand what these words mean when Jesus speaks them to a criminal dying next to him on a cross, but what do they mean for us today? In this song, we respond to Christ’s words with dedication: Yes, Lord, we want to be with you in life and death, in paradise or cross.

May we remain with you,
Lord, when the day is o’er.
For we desire nothing more
than to be by your side,
than to be by your side,
O Lord.


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Psalm 118: The Lord’s Become Our Salvation

My friend Wendell Kimbrough and I co-wrote a song for the Calvin Worship Symposium. Go to 40:03 in this video to hear it.

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Forgive Us

Update 10/6/20: Sheet music for this song can be downloaded here.

This Lent, Pastor Nate is preaching a series on the seven last words of Christ. I’ve committed to writing a short song to follow each of the seven sermons. The first is Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” With each of these songs, my goal is not to restate the words of Jesus, but to let people reflect on them. For this passage, I thought that a simple response of confession would be most appropriate.

1. Forgive us. Forgive us
for the sins that we have done
and the ones whom we have harmed.
Oh, forgive us. Forgive us.

2. Forgive us. Forgive us
for the ways we’ve caused you pain
again and again.
Oh, forgive us. Forgive us.

3. Forgive us. Forgive us
for the sins we won’t forgive
and the sins we won’t forget.
Oh, forgive us. Forgive us.

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One. Long. Year. #2 Never Perfect

Just in time for your Valentine’s Day celebrations, here’s the latest installment of The St. Sinner Orchestra’s “One. Long. Year.” serial album.

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Come Home

I’m reading the excellent Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine, and as I contemplated the parable of the prodigal son I tried to imagine what kind of song might be an appropriate response to the story. Here’s what I came up with:

The Father always calls to his beloved
and welcomes the wanderer home.
Leave this land of broken dreams;
Leave your hunger, shame, and remorse.
Come home,
come home,
come home,
come home.

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All Who Have Ears

There is a recurring refrain in the book of Revelation: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” As Fuller Avenue Church worked through the letters to the churches of Revelation this fall I kept thinking that someone should write a song based on that passage. It’s the perfect prayer of illumination.

Three months, two false starts, and one new computer later, I decided that I should be the person to write that song!

As you can hear from the above demo, the song can be sung simply–a cappella or with guitar or piano accompaniment. But it can also be sung in canon, with as many as five voices singing simultaneously. (A singable chorus in five-part canon that doesn’t sound stodgy is no small feat. I hope you appreciate what I’ve done for you!)

If you can’t believe your ears, I invite you to look at the PDF.

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