Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the story of 'To Unity'

in honor of the birth of Laura Kate and Andrew's son, here's the story behind the song i wrote for their wedding!

i had the privilege of playing with a great group of musicians while in college and grad school.  Casting Shadows was a band that formed from an opportunity i had to record some songs i'd written; when offered the chance to go to the studio, i decided that i needed the help of the worship band i was blessed to lead with, and we ended up writing songs together as Casting Shadows after that session.  my friend David Phillippi played bass for CS and laid down a track for WeddingSongs - 'Awake.'  Jon Pritchett played electric guitars, and now he is a Doctor (while still shredding guitar with Visio Dei church in Raleigh). Matt Epler played drums, and still plays with me at LiFT and when i get random opportunities to lead worship out and about. Laura Kate Harvey Lupton played keys and sang lead/harmony vocals, and i'm glad that she and her husband are back in the Cary area for a short time before they head to Colombia on mission.  Maybe we'll write another few songs together before too long!  Part of the Lupton family's call to Colombia is equipping the local church to write and sing songs for worship.

LK gave me the opportunity to write a song for her wedding while i was still pretty new to this wedding-songwriting thing, and i was very grateful to craft something for a close friend.

with LK and Andrew's song, i really began to finalize the types of questions that i ask a couple for whom i'm writing.  i like to know how they describe each other - what phrases and key words that come to mind when they think of their future spouse.  i also ask how they first met, and if there is a moment they can recall when they first decided that they loved the other... those are often potent memories!

Andrew is a theologian, and they are both very Jesus-centered people (as all Christians are called to be - these two live it out well!).  What started to come across to me, particularly from Andrew, was the weight of the gospel that he felt in this process of getting married, and the joy he took in knowing that he was picturing the gospel, and manifesting the image of God by pursuing marriage.  This started to sound like very trinitarian language to me, and that got a few thoughts rolling around in my head...

turns out that LK loves the mountains of East Tennessee, and Andrew is a mountain boy, and he actually proposed on a mountainside.  I'm pretty sure that's an obvious set up for a song, so i took a cue from this scene and included it in the chorus of the song.  The chorus and verses continue on in a fashion that i hope was meaningful to Laura Kate, who was a music major at CU and has music in her soul - the movement of melody, harmony, and unity in music seemed to me to be another picture of the Trinity.

and, LK being a songwriter, i asked her what she had written for/about Andrew and she was gracious enough to lend me the bridge of this song (the last part here), from a poem she had written.

here's the lyrics!

You opened your mouth, and sang of home
I was already singing the same tones
My voice caught in my throat as you showed how you love me
My ears ringing with the melody underneath

The music of these mountains 
Is sweeping me away 
From melody, to harmony, to unity 


So I’ve opened my mouth to sing with you
This harmony draws out a melody more true
I’m surprised by how uniquely I hear both parts
But I feel the deeper resolution in my heart

Together now we sing of this mystery
A symbol of the trinity, unity in our diversity
I in you, and you in me
One voice, one life to glorify one King

The music of these mountains 
Is sweeping me away 
From melody, to harmony, to unity 

I love you not like lighted candles melting at their leisure
But like the fire that heats the stars
which know not quench or darkness
I love you, not by right of merit, deed or birth
I love you by the lavish grace of Him who loved us first

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