SONG #9 OF 50: “YOU’VE NEVER LET ME DOWN” – A WORSHIP SONG FOR CHILDREN YOUNG AND OLD
If you would have told me ten years ago that I was going to be a worship pastor I wouldn’t have believed you. If you told me that I would actually write worship songs, I might have laughed. But if you told me I’d end up writing a kid’s worship song…I probably would have smacked you.
The idea came mostly from necessity. At our church the children worship with the adults for twenty minutes or so before being released to their respective classrooms. Families seem to enjoy worshipping together for those few minutes, but we’ve noticed that sometimes the children don’t participate in the singing when the songs are tricky or unfamiliar. So what if just wrote our own? we thought.
It turns out that kids are pretty good at creativity. So one Sunday I had the opportunity to sit in with our fourth and fifth graders. We talked about what “worship” is and how music can be worship and why we sing a lot in church. Then we read several Scriptures that encourage us to “sing a new song to the Lord” and talked about why we sing new songs a lot. Eventually I asked them if they’d like to help me write a “new song to the Lord”? They were psyched.
So with a whiteboard, a dozen or so kids, a guitar and a Bible, we wrote this song together. We read Psalm 36 over and over as a sort of meditation, and started brainstorming phrases that could be lyrics. In the end, we had a full whiteboard and more lyrics than could fit into a song.
A few months later after I finished the tune, the kids helped teach the song to our congregation. Jesus says that in order to enter into His Kingdom we have to “become like children.” So we asked for some of their help in the process.
No matter where I go, Your love is with me / I climbed the highest height and You were there / Why should I be afraid if You are with me? / I faced the darkest night and you weren’t scared
Wherever I go, Your love surround me there / Wherever I go, Your love surrounds
Your love, oh Lord / Is wider than the mountains / Deeper than the oceans / Higher than the clouds / Your love, oh Lord / Is full of perfect justice / With mercy and forgiveness / You’ve never let me down
No matter where I go, Your love is with me / I swam the deepest depths and You were there / Why should I be ashamed if You are for me? / Within my worst mistakes You still cared
Co-written with the fourth and fifth graders of Common Ground Christian Church (West): Isaiah Alexander, Ella Sherck, Sarah Hanscom, Seth Keller, Carter McClure, Luke Smith, Ava Blanchard, Paige Burkett.
How we wrote it.
I brought a melody and Psalm 36 to the kids – that’s all we started with. I hummed the melody, and suggested we start brainstorming lyrics that would fit into the blanks, Mad Libs style. Within ten minutes the kids had come up with at least a dozen great lines. We could barely write them down fast enough. I took pictures of our whiteboard and began trying to cobble the lyrics together in a coherent way. Almost all the lyrics in the chorus were written by the kids.
Finding a verse and pre-chorus to match was the trickiest part. Thankfully, I had this little ditty left over from another song, although it had completely different lyrics. I tried writing the simplest lines about God’s ever-present love for the verses, lyrics that felt appropriate and relevant for kids to sing.
The lyric about the “highest height” was from a journal from about ten years ago. I lived in England for a brief time in my college years, and it was the first time I’d been away from friends, family, and the familiarities of American living. It was the time in life when I began to realize that God’s presence transcends space and time. The Spirit of God is everywhere, His love isn’t bound to places or people.
The family I stayed with lived at the top of the hill, a small mountain really. It was a short five minute walk to the top, where I once experienced God’s presence in the early morning in a profound way. So, while the lyric functions as a generality for most people singing it, “I climbed the highest height and You were there” is very literal and sentimental for me.
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