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New Song Of The Week: Fade With Our Voices

August 11, 2009

My internet has been down today, so I didn’t get to upload this earlier, but here’s the new song of the day! Fade With Our Voices.

This song was my attempt to write a corporate worship feeling kind of song about… well, worship.  Or rather about how my understanding of worship has changed over time, and how our understanding of worship as the body of Christ could change the world.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re releasing a special edition of the new CD that comes with 9 extra songs as well as a 32 page booklet with stories behind the song.  The piece I wrote for this song was the hardest because there was so much I wanted to say about it!  As it is, it is the longest piece I wrote for the booklet, and still there’s so much more that could be said… but I thought I’d share a glimpse of the special edition booklet material with you here, including the “behind the curtain” section that we included for each song to bring you not only inside the meaning of the song, but also inside the process of writing and recording:

(the special and deluxe editions are available for pre-order at

Fade With Our Voices
“If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who makes them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.”
– Proverbs 14:31

“The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved– they are Jesus in disguise.”  – Mother Teresa

“When Hine the sculptor looked at the statue of Venus and tears streamed down his face, a friend asked ‘don’t you like this statue?’
He answered ‘yes, I do.  But what is the point of all that beauty when it is marred by such impotence?  She has no hands.’” – Ravi Zacharias

“Any head analysis of what Jesus expects of those who choose to follow him must be accompanied by the heart, and the hands and feet as well” – Rich Stearns

C.S. Lewis once described the music in church as “fifth rate poetry set to sixth rate music,” and while I’ve often shared his disappointment with the church’s love affair with worship music that is often full of clichés and thoughtless praise phrases, I’ve come to the conclusion that music – no matter how beautiful – may be part of the problem. Though singing songs is a part of it, words and melodies will always likely fail us as conveyors of worship because they are too easy, require too little of us, and therefore they are containers too small to hold something as large as our worship.

On the other hand, a life well lived may come closer to having depth and breadth enough to hold our affection for God. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that more than any song, the way I live my life is better suited for bringing worship to God: the kind of husband, father, friend I am and how I serve the least of these is what will bring God pleasure and the glory and honor that we so often sing about.

I’ve told the story about how we were working at a camp when my son Gus – then a four year old whose reputation for being rough and tumble (to put it politely) preceded him – was playing with Josie – the five year old daughter of the camp director – on the lakefront where the staff was having a meeting.  We kept a close eye on Gus, ready to intervene if he decided to try a Jedi-wrestling-kung-fu move on delicate little Josie.

The wind was chilly blowing in off the lake, and Josie complained of being cold. Imagine our great delight when we, who were braced for the worst, watched as Gus – without being prompted – removed his little jacket and put it on Josie.  I can’t tell you the pleasure it brought us to see him behave so honorably.  It also had the added benefit of bringing us honor as his parents since the whole staff watched it all play out.

As the church it’s the world that is watching us, of course, and if we hope to make disciples of all nations we could do worse than giving our worship hands and feet that reveal the heart of God. The form that our worship takes will make the God that we worship believable and beautiful.

But even more compelling than an evangelical agenda is the realization that if what Jesus says is true – that he is with the poor, his heart breaks over their suffering, and that he is concerned about injustice – then we have the opportunity and great privilege of ministering to Christ who says that it’s he himself that receives the comfort we give, the cup of cold water we share in his name. And so it seems that in serving the poor we come as close as we’ll ever get to giving Christ anything in return for all he’s done for us. If worship is about bringing pleasure to God, then caring for the poor and the marginalized may be our profoundest worship.

(Read Isaiah 58 for an amazing passage about the kind of worship that pleases God.)

Behind the curtain…
One of the hardest things for a guy like me to do is write corporate worship music.  The very nature of a corporate worship song (at least in our day) requires the simplest of language and images.  For writers whose discipline is a constant reaching for unique and even startling images, the language of corporate worship is challenging.  The gifting that is an asset to a singer/songwriter can be a liability when writing contemporary worship songs. If you employ language that feels too colorful, the song will be dismissed as not suitable for a corporate worship service.

So the challenge with “Fade With Our Voices” was to write the song in such a way that felt very familiar, like the kind of song you might hear on a Sunday morning in any given church in North America, but that – hopefully, upon further reflection – might broaden the worshipper’s ideas of what worship could be.  It’s kind of like trying to slip something under the fence and is maybe a little subversive (and even presumptuous), but I think our hearts were in the right place.

I’ve tried to write this kind of song for years – “You Are Mercy” from my last record was one such attempt – but it wasn’t until Jason Ingram took up the challenge with me that I feel like it finally took the shape it needed to in order to potentially move from being a song of personal expression to the kind of song that I’d hope might find a home in worship services.

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