By Bobby Smith & Spencer Roth
I love beginnings. Something fresh. Something new. The start of a journey when everything is perfectly packed, unspoiled, and ready for anything. Walt Whitman once said, “Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.” Well, that is how we started songwriting for our church. We had everything before us, with no expectations or imposing deadlines. Something fresh.
Fast forward a few years and the seed that was planted grew into a full ministry with semi-annual songwriting retreats, weekly co-writes, a full-length record, radio play in fifteen different countries, thousands of downloads, and new culture of worship at our church. God gave the growth.
We were happy. Satisfied. God, however, had more in store and we found ourselves caught in a story only He could write. We were offered an opportunity to go to North Africa to put on concerts and share Jesus with thousands upon thousands of students there. It was honestly hard to believe what was being described with such an unreal opportunity in such a hard-to-reach place, but we just said, yes.
So often, God is patient with His people. He calls us, knowing exactly what we need, and waits for obedience. Just a simple yes.
We had never stopped writing music, and we had a stockpile of new songs we wanted to share with the church. We never planned to release something again so soon (less than a year) after our first record. Five songs started to stand out and we got to work recording. This “By Design” EP became a rallying cry for our church as we began singing the songs together in worship and the church came alongside us buying them up to support our trip. It was overwhelming, and wound up making a way for our large team to head there.
We feel that all of the songs off of this EP could be useful depending on your context or the specific need. The three songs that have been most successful for us in our context are Relentless God, Behold, and Mercy.
Relentless God: Relentless God, musically speaking, is a BIG energy song. Heavy electronic synth vibe, but there is tons of room for other instruments to find their place as well. It it’s just an all-out party any time we use this song in worship. In lyrical terms, it is all about our God who chases us down through all of the junk that we can get ourselves into. It’s about his inexhaustible love for his people. I think the music and the lyrics pair well together for a perfect opener for a high energy worship set.
Behold: Behold is another great opener. It’s a fast 6/8 tune, with a nice big full band sound. Musically it’s pretty straight forward and should be easy to fit into any worship context. This song is about the return of our King, Jesus. When we see him, we won’t want to do anything but praise him. I love how triumphant the lyrics to this song are. A lot of songs about seeing Jesus one day are slow ballad-y types and I’m glad this one turned out much more up-tempo and celebratory. This song is another great “one spot” for almost any worship context. Our church loves to sing it!
Mercy: Mercy is a classic “mid-tempo build” song. This song is very dynamic with lots of space for reflection, and spots to speak “into the song”. Most of the time when we use this song in a worship set, we read scripture, or have one of the worship leaders speak some sort of exhortation during an instrumental break. This song is all about our brokenness before a perfect and Holy God and in light of that, how incredible his mercy is. The bridge lyrics are some of my favorite lines we’ve ever written: “Because of what you’ve done, I am a new creation. Because of who you are, I’ll never be the same.” Because of the tempo and the lyrical content, this song works well in a “three spot” right before the sermon, or as a response song.