SONG #1: “THERE IS A RIVER”

Today marks the beginning of my journey toward writing, demoing, and releasing fifty songs in one year. I figure I’m already one-fiftieth of the way there. It’s pretty much downhill from here, right?

Here’s the first one, called “There Is a River” and based off Psalm 46.

Lyrics:

Come and remember the works of the Lord / Stand in His presence, speechless and poor / Be still and know that He is God / Be still and know He is our shelter and our guard 

There is a river filled with joy / In the city of our Lord / It can’t be shaken or destroyed / And He will reign forevermore

Even if mountains crumbled to dust / Even if oceans swallowed the earth / Be still and know that He is God / Be still and know He is our shelter and our guard

There’s no other hiding place / No other King to end all wars / There’s no shelter like our God / The nations tremble at His voice

Why I wrote it:

There’s a strange tension in Psalm 46 between beautiful imagery (rivers of joy, mountains falling into the sea, and all that), a deep fear of God as cosmic ruler, and the confidence that God will one day make all things right. I hoped to capture some of that without interfering with too much of the evocative imagery. I liked the idea of people being able to sing this psalm as straight as possible, so most of the lyrics are verbatim from one translation or another.

Musical influences:

The Beatles (always), Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, maybe Rivers & Robot’s “White As Snow” which has been a repeat a lot for me recently.

Further reading:

Psalm 46.

Interesting fact:

I wrote the song on a banjo, and translated it to guitar later. Which goes to show that sometimes picking up a new instrument can enhance the creative experience. But because I didn’t have a banjo lying around when I demo’d it, I used a baritone ukulele tuned like a banjo instead.

This was also one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written. I usually work for weeks (or months…or years) on songs. This one came out in one 90-minute sitting.

Here’s to forty-nine more!

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Comments (6)
  1. Carrie Joslin January 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I love that you’re doing this, Nick! And I love this song. This morning I was thinking about Romans 15:13: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Throughout this day, as problems come and circumstances loom larger than my strength, I am confident that I will hear the Holy Spirit singing to me, “There is a river filled with joy….” Thank you!

    • nickmorrowmusic January 7, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Thanks Carrie! Wow…the Romans passage is strikingly similar, isn’t it?!? Thanks for sharing. PS – “As circumstances loom larger than my strength…” sounds like a song lyric :)

  2. Greg Watts January 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Beautiful! Just a thought…after first chorus… add a full band with a slightly faster tempo? End the song with exactly your acoustic at original tempo. Really enjoyed this! Just thinking dynamics:)!

  3. Sidd Thomas January 7, 2016 at 1:53 am

    I love this song! I can’t wait to get the rest of your songs!!! Keep it up Nick. I’m praying for the HS to work in and through your gifts and talents!!!!

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