The Three Songs That Define My Life

The Three Songs That Define My Life

Holy Ground image

My mom swears that I was born a musician. When I was just a toddler, she says she found me outside on a Sunday afternoon, scooting around the yard on my little riding toy and singing the Sunday Morning solo she and my dad had performed that morning word for word, by memory, and at the top of my lungs. At seven years old she put me into piano lessons, which eventually earned me a college scholarship and led to my gaining my music teaching certificate and landing into my current role as worship leader.

Needless to say, music has always played a powerful role in my life. It was often a song that carried me through a difficult time, or gave me a way to express my irrepressible joy during the great times…

And now I have to pick just three?

As I glance over my shoulder at the life I’ve lived, I’d have to say that the following three songs have meant the absolute most to me. So here is my life, in three musical snapshots:

You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)

You’re my Prince of Peace,

And I will live my life for You!

The first time I heard this song I was in Shanghai, China, spending six weeks teaching English to 2nd graders. My friends and I were Christians, but were housed in a complex with armed Communist guards and had to be utterly careful to not endanger local believers by making a huge show of our faith.

One evening, however, a group of college aged students gathered in one apartment for a Bible study. Everyone’s hearts were so filled with excitement about God’s Word and love for Jesus that everyone sang this chorus as loud as they could, despite the fact that the guard downstairs was carrying a rifle and gatherings of this sort were not allowed. The Lord watched over us that night, and we didn’t run into any trouble. But I never have been able to get this song out of my head the way we sung it that night. In that moment, Christ was truly all that mattered, and I learned what worship is really about.

Here’s a video of Michael W. Smith performing this song live:

Holy Ground

Let us praise Jesus now,

We are standing in His presence, on holy ground…

Of course, the sweetest day of my life was my wedding day. After months of anticipation, I stood breathless as my soul-mate walked down the aisle, ready to join her life with mine. She chose to walk the aisle barefoot in recognition of the fact that we were standing in the very presence of God and that this was a holy moment. And as she walked, one of my good friends from college played Holy Ground on the trumpet in an absolutely gorgeous arrangement.

This song will always remind me of the beautiful faith of the woman I married, and the great privilege we now have of serving a Holy God together.

We Shall Behold Him

The sky shall unfold, preparing His entrance,

The stars shall applaud Him with thunders of praise,

The sweet light in His eyes shall enhance those awaiting,

And we shall behold Him, then face to face.

While this wasn’t the first piano solo I ever performed in church, it was the first one I ever performed with confidence. I used to get so nervous playing for an audience that my leg would tremble violently against the pedals, causing the entire piano to shake! But this piano solo, arranged by Mark Hayes, always had a soothing effect on my spirit. It reminded me that one day I’ll look into the loving eyes of Jesus, as all of Creation sings of His majesty, and I’ll add my voice to that chorus. Just thinking about the wonder and beauty of that momentabsolutely eclipses any fear or anxiety I might be experiencing in the present.

No matter what He asks or where He leads, it will all be worth it in that one defining moment… when we see Jesus.

Here’s a video of a piano student playing the very same arrangement of this piece that I’ve performed since high school:

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Writing 101 Day 3 Challenge: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

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8 thoughts on “The Three Songs That Define My Life

  1. All of these are great songs! And two of them in particular have been special to me as well. By the way, I’m a couple of days behind you. I didn’t realize you were doing the Writing 101 Challenge as well. It’s been a rather interesting few days at my house. You’d think with all the rain I’d find extra time for writing, but that hasn’t been the case. I started just to pick up with today’s challenge, but then … well, I decided I really needed to do all of the exercises. I’ll catch up eventually! 🙂 Great post, as usual!

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    1. I’m glad to know you’re doing the Writing 101 challenge, too! They really are fun exercises, and the feedback from other writers is invaluable – it’s hard to believe they offer this for free!

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  2. I don’t know how many times I sang You are Holy as Youth Director and singer for our youth Praise Band. I couldn’t sing but music was part of what kept the band coming because of their age, so I did it anyway. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin is one of my favorites as well. Nice choices. I Surrender All is also a favorite. Maybe I need to rewrite my article.

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  3. What a wonderful post. I am starting a few days late (as you noticed by visiting my blog) and thought about catching up in one day. After reading a few posts from people about their three songs however, I think I will wait and think on it for a little longer. Your songs are all so beautiful and powerful. I especially loved the part you shared about your bride walking barefoot. How Beautiful (which is one of my favorite songs, but perhaps not in my top three!)

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  4. Eek, narrowing it down to three choices… that’s hard! Even the best songs start to feel “old” after being put on repeat for too long. I like how you tie them to experiences, those altars on the banks of the Jordan, or the pitons hammered into the mountainside, so that when everything falls apart, there’s something secure to look back at and say, “At that time, I know God was there, and I knew where I stood.” Keeping those memories alive might be the key to preventing a song feeling overdone. What do you think?

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    1. I agree! Some songs get stale, as you’ve said, but if they’re connected to strong memories you tend to not notice. Like Christmas music, for example… some people cringe at those old carols, but I love them anyway! The same things happens with church music, which is why I think some generations LOVE certain songs while others just don’t get it…it”s about the spiritual experiences attached to the music, and not necessarily the music itself.

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