You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.
Psalm 30:11-12 (The Voice)
To be completely honest, I don't usually like songs like "Ever Be," by Bethel Music. Repetitive choruses are kind of controversial in modern worship music - detractors have lots of catchy and insulting names for songs that repeat themselves like this one does - so I normally try to avoid them on Sunday mornings. The first time I heard it, the chorus caught my ear, and I found myself humming/singing it for the next week! However, one catchy chorus does not a good worship song make. But after a few listens, I found myself drawn in by the second verse:
You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
You're making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name
If that verse or my reaction to it sounds familiar to you, you probably read my last blog entry about "Jesus We Love You." (Read it here) These two songs are back to back on a phenomenal album by Bethel Music called "We Will Not Be Shaken." (Buy it here, it's worth every penny) It's a complete coincidence that we introduced these back to back - I keep a running list of about 50-75 songs that we could introduce at any time, and I've never introduced two songs from the same band back to back before; much less these really popped out at me for the season that our congregation is in. Despite that coincidence, I don't think that their placement on the album or in our worship services is a coincidence at all. In the midst of so much turmoil in the world, it's easy to find ourselves feeling distant to God, or even ambivalent about God's love. But these two songs serve as a testimony of the faithfulness of God despite the storm. That's the kind of thing that we're absolutely desperate for a reminder of.
Kalley Heiligenthal wrote the chorus to "Ever Be" during a moment of spontaneous worship at an evening service, and found herself trying to make it into a complete song for nearly the entire next year. Talking about the process, she said,
"The Lord spoke to me and said 'I gave you that chorus and bridge as a freebie, so together we could mine out why My praise will ever be on your lips.' And that started a really long process - about a year - of writing draft after draft after draft about why His praise will ever be on my lips. I have a notebook that I affectionately refer to as my "Ever Be Notebook" - I filled every page...I knew in my heart who He was, but I didn't have the words that I wanted to articulate His faithfulness, His Love toward me, His commitment."
Those verses are the result of an entire year of prayer, scripture reading, discernment, and exploration of the nature of God. And maybe that's why this song resonates with me so much: It doesn't just throw out a line like "your praise will ever be on my lips," it backs it up. God has done so much in our lives that we physically can't help but praise.
For example: The first time we sang this song on a Sunday morning (about three weeks ago), I wasn't leading from the piano. I had given the reigns to my associate, Daniel, and was playing the service from the drum set. We kind of have a "procedure" for introducing new worship music. Every time we do a new song, we play it during our reflection time during the first week while the congregation is seated and focusing on their response to God. As we built the song there was a palpable tension in the room, and I couldn't quite figure out why. It soon became obvious:
You will be praised! You will be praised!
With angels and saints, we sing worthy are You Lord!
We began to sing those words, and within a few seconds I had the most amazing view: the entire congregation was on their feet worshiping God. That's not the work of a musical crescendo or a catchy melody or even good lyrics; that's the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we recognize the unshakeable goodness of God.
I strongly encourage you to take a listen to Kalley's testimony about this song - I've attached it below along with an in-depth song story interview and the live music video. May God's praise ever be on your lips.
Read more about the story behind the song at New Release Today.
Matt Dailey serves as Worship Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2013. When he's not leading worship and designing graphics, he enjoys baseball, comic books and team trivia (his team is nationally ranked. #micdrop). Read more about Matt here.