What does an encounter with the Glory of God SOUND like?
Throughout scripture, there are stories of God-encounters that paint a vivid and powerful picture, causing our imagination to ‘light up’. Consider Moses— atop a mountain, hidden in the cleft of a rock—as God’s goodness passed before Him (Exodus 33 & 34). Imagine how Isaiah felt as He stood awestruck, witnessing angelic beings crying “Holy, holy, holy” as the foundations of the place shook and the room was filled with smoke (Isaiah 6). What must it have been like to experience first-hand a cloud of God’s Glory filling the temple that was so intense that the priests could no longer stand to minister? (2 Chronicles7). Each of these stories fills us with wonder and intrigue as to what each experience may have LOOKED like. But what did they SOUND like? This was the question we asked ourselves as we sat in a studio piecing this song together.
Obviously God doesn’t need us to make Him sound good. He doesn’t need the sensationalism of an incredible soundtrack. His Glory is glorious enough. But of course there is always a desire in us to try to express the emotion that we feel in response to what we witness and experience during our encounters with God and to share that with others who are seeking their own encounter. We believe God loves to partner with that intention.
For me, it all started while I was drumming at one of our Leaders Discipleship Meetings at Planetshakers Church. We knew that our conference was just around the corner and that God had given Pastor Russell the prophetic name, GLORY, as its focus and theme. As we always do, our songwriters had been asking God for an expression of that statement that might represent what He wanted to do throughout the event and it didn’t take long for Him to respond. While I was drumming, a phrase from Isaiah 6 just kept going around in my head:
I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
That was all I had. After the worship time finished, Noah and I met as we stood behind the door at the back of the stage. I shared what I had and he also shared what had been getting his attention as well. We started with the account in Isaiah 6 and then moved to 2 Chronicles 5:14. By the end of the night we were able to form a couple of lines with some missing words but we both felt there was something supernatural on it and that we needed to pursue it. This would be a song that would prepare God’s people for an encounter with His Glory before leading them right into the throne room for the reality of that experience.
A couple of days later I was going for a prayer walk down the road near our church offices. I was still thinking about the potential of the song and what we might want to express. That’s when the phrasing and themes of the verses started to take shape in my mind. I can actually remember the exact place where I was standing beside the road when I ‘received’ the words of the second verse: “Flashes of light, a voice like thunder roaring.” There was something about that phrase that just hit me and brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the magnitude of what we were trying to depict. This has since become one of my favourite moments in the song.
By this stage, BJ, Josh Ham, Noah and I had all been talking about it and knew that we all had different pieces to this puzzle, so we organised to meet in the studio the following morning to take a look. We sat down and tried to make sense of what we had so far with BJ on keys and Noah singing. A few tweaks were made to the timing and melody of the raw voice memos, but from that point we all just stepped into an anointed flow together that was honestly, pretty special. We looked up the scriptural accounts of God-encounters that I mentioned previously, imagining what a musical score behind them might sound like and the heart-cry that came with them. Each of us were almost shouting over each other, each contributing in a way that felt something like 4 rivers of inspiration combining together to form a strong current. The words, the melody and the progression quickly locked in and it was time for the production. Josh Ham would take the bulk of it, but we all agreed that we didn’t want to skimp on any of the creative process.
Sometimes less is more but on this occasion it felt like we could never have enough layers to capture the awe of an encounter with God. Even if we needed to pull things out later, we wanted to just keep searching for all the sounds that painted the right picture. That part was so much fun! BJ added some things from his studio at home and I came in at different times and added little ideas. Ham kept doing what Ham does, making it epic. If this song were an image, it would not be a clean, life-like portrait. It would be one of those where an artist has fun literally throwing layer upon layer of paint on the canvas until it all comes together to form an image. There is an expression in every layer from the recording of a prayer meeting underneath the whole song, to the sounds of thunder and falsetto ad-libs and whispers. My favourite example of this is the instrumental section in the middle of the song. After crying out, “Show me Your glory,” there needed to be some space to let the song breathe and allow God’s Glory to be displayed and experienced. To me, this was the opportunity to try and express what we imagined to be the sounds of Exodus 34, as God’s goodness and glory passed over Moses and His Name was declared.
In the end, this beautiful mess of paint did need some cleaning up to make sense of the image- enter the master, Joth Hunt. We all came back into the studio with him one night before the conference and he removed some layers, changed some ‘colours’ and adjusted the bridge until every part sat where it needed to be. Only one thing was missing: the sound of the whole congregation declaring it together!
Finally, Planetshakers Conference arrived and we had the opportunity to sing this anthem together as a family of Believers. The result was pretty beautiful. The cry, “Show me your glory,” rang out and our glorious God responded, pouring out His Presence and beauty on all who were there. As we played, it actually felt like the song had become the background soundtrack to people’s personal encounters with the Glory of God.
That is our prayer for you today! We pray that you too will encounter His Glory and then reflect it to your world. May this song stir your heart with the same cry, “Show me your glory!” And may the glorious One be revealed!
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