Thursday, 1 October 2009

Behind The Song: Great High Priest

Image:Judith Burrows

Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Heb.7:26-27)

The first worship song I ever wrote was based on Hebrews 7:26. Ten years later reading the same passage in my quiet time I began to sing the Bible verse again. Where my first attempt had been a straight memory verse wedded to an odd little tune, this was more of a development . I was struck by the idea, in the following verse, that Jesus meets our need.

What need?

Surely our greatest need is to be reconciled to God who is rightly angry at our sin, belittled by our desiring trinkets above him. The concept of the wrath of God is under attack today but I don't think God's love makes any sense without it. God saves us from himself and for himself.

Jesus you’re my great high priest
The only one who meets my need,
My need to be forgiven & set free.
The anger of a Holy God
Defamed by all the wrong I’ve done
You took upon yourself so willingly
When you sacrificed your sinless life for me.

In the bridge I wanted to capture something of the contrasts in who Christ is, the things which Jonathan Edwards called "An admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies".

Great High Priest & Perfect Lamb.
Almighty God & Suffering Man.

The song came quite quickly for me (months instead of years!) & only changed in one small but significant way. A more compact version of the bridge was originally part of the chorus (coming just before the last line). My friend Steve Burns, a member of Grace Church Nottingham suggested making it into a bridge. It was a great idea and the song became the first one written for Grace Church Nottingham.

Musically, the only unusual thing is the Gmaj7/B chord (low to high: X20032) that occurs on "hoLY one", "blameLESS one" and after "forgiven and set free".

Download the free mp3, chord sheet & lyrics here.

Related Posts: More Than I Could Say
The Weight Of Glory

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