Song Story: Alleluia

Psalm 24:7Psalm 97:1

I was the Worship Pastor at a mid-sized church in Birmingham, Alabama back in 2005 when this song was written. I had been going through some dark stuff in my personal life and was just starting to see the light at the end of a long, painful tunnel. It was like I could breathe again. And with each new breath, a reason to sing. I’d kinda gotten numb for a while there because of the hurt. So it was nice to start to feel again. And it was nice that what I was feeling didn’t hurt. The songs I listened to were now more hope-filled than the sad songs of loss and depression and hopelessness. During this season I was also writing some songs. Some to help me cope and some to share. I was meeting with a vocal coach at the time and I remember something that he and my songwriting mentor both said to me on separate occasions. “Vowels sing. Consonants don’t.” 

As I was coming out of the darkness and numbness I wanted to sing and I wanted others to sing with me. I had a chorus and a melody I’d been humming for awhile but decided to try and complete the song. Originally, this song was called “Hallelujah.” But I wanted it to “sing” so I dropped the leading consonant and went with a word churches have been singing for centuries. 

Alleluia. 

It means the same but it is, of course, much more singable. I wrote the lyrics out, kept it pretty simple and shared it with my songwriting mentor. 

I loved it. It rocked. 

She hated it. 

She thought it was too repetitive and didn’t really go anywhere. So, I put it back in my notebook and pulled it out every now and then to see if I could tweak it to make it any better. Five years went by in our history – this song and me – before it ever got used for anything.

So, when we were trying out songs for the EP I played everything else for the team but hesitated to share this one. We really wanted to have four songs on this release. And when I noticed we only had three that were ready to go I reluctantly took a stab at selling this song to a new audience. 

Funny thing is, they liked it. 

I had some renewed confidence in the song and for whatever reason, was able to approach it differently. The bridge of the song got a fresh treatment; a slight re-write of the lyric and a bit more energy. So we went with it. Maybe it would be an okay song. If nothing else, it would be what we call a "filler" song – a song that's not terrible but it doesn't really ignite much either.

I don’t know if my mentor would approve of the song today... but maybe. I could see what she meant at first-listen of the song, fresh from the pen. But listening to it now, I can’t help but want to join in on the chorus, dancing and singing every time I hear it. From the opening line: “Open up the doors/ Let the King of Glory come in” to the celebration of the chorus and the admonition of the bridge, this song has become a favorite from the EP. 

If you spend any time reading the Psalms you get a sense of the ups and downs of a real human who wants nothing more than to be connected with his Creator and know that his God was connected to him. To know that his humanness wasn’t overlooked. That his pain didn’t go unnoticed. 

As you read the scriptures listed at the top of this post, what things come to mind for you? Does Psalm 24 incite anything in your soul? What are the gates in your soul? When’s the last time you swung them open for the King of Glory to come in? What are the old doors that you’ve left closed for so long? What areas need to see the light of day? Could you stand to let your soul breathe again? Have you gotten numb from the cold of darkness? Is there any reason to be glad?

I encourage you to read these scripture passages this week. Ask yourself some of the questions above. And feel free to leave comments and continue the discussion throughout the weeks.

Download "Alleluia"

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