One of the things that can be enjoyable about songwriting is the flow you can create in your working process when a discarded verse from one song can create a whole other new song. That was the case here: I had a discarded verse from what became ‘Heavenly Father’ (track 4 on the EP), which said:
Now let the one who is thirsty receive
God’s living water that’s flowing so free
Come quench your thirst in the river that springs from his throne
…or something like that. At the time I liked it, but the feedback came in two forms: 1) ‘flowing so free’ is in fact ungrammatical, which on reflection I utterly recognise, and I hope never to commit such sins again! 2) It felt a bit out of place in the song, as if a whole new song could be created around it.
So I set to work.
The Bible is full of invitations. I certainly haven’t alluded to all of them in the song; in fact I was mainly focussed on Revelation 22 as I wrote. Hence for the first verse I was looking mainly at Rev 22:17 – ‘And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.’ This image of the water obviously flows through the chapter in the depiction of the river of life which springs from the throne of God. I thought it would be good too to have a song which says in faith, or in the flow of the moment, ‘God’s living water flows through here“; I think very often we put things off into the future that God says are present realities – we just need to wake up to them! Where we are gathered and welcoming his presence, the Holy Spirit is able to flow!
In seeking to explore this theme I was experimenting with a second verse that tried to look at the healing leaves of the tree of life from Rev 22:2, with lines such as:
Here there is healing, the promise that hopes are fulfilled
In the tree of life
…but that doesn’t quite cut it – it’s a bit wordy and full of ideas, and slightly unclear. (Also I could have helped myself by having less syllables in the third line of each verse!)
In the end, after a lot of scribbling and crafting, I found something that said what I wanted to say (about the invitation to receive healing) without getting overbearing in the number of concepts used etc. The first verse had already established the presence of God’s river, so verse 2 went on to say:
All who are wounded and torn, come kneel
God is your strength and your faithful shield
Lay down your burdens and open your hands to receive
Of his healing life
The chorus centres us on the focus of our worship – ‘Come everyone to the Lamb who died…’ For a little while I was trying to get more Revelation type concepts out, again specifically so that we could rejoice in them as present realities as much as possible, with lines such as ‘Now he’s enthroned in the heart of his bride’ – trying to illustrate that people could draw near in just the place where people were gathered and singing this song because they would be coming into the midst of the bride of Christ to find him right at the heart…but it was all getting a bit complicated! A good line in a worship song doesn’t need to be explained in order to be understood. If you want to explore all that, make it into a whole new song, I say!
Having invited everyone that was thirsty and in need of healing, I thought it appropriate – again looking in general at Revelation 22 – to turn to the nations, especially as they’re mentioned in verse 2 of that chapter. Here I got lucky – the famous, heart-moving statement of the Moravians by which they encouraged one another, that they should go win the lost so ‘that the Lamb might receive the reward of his suffering’, fit nicely into this verse! I claim no credit for it. It’s a beautiful line. I was glad to be able to use it in concluding the verse:
Come every nation and tribe and tongue
You have been purchased with precious blood
Come that the Lamb might receive the abundant reward
Of his suffering