Story behind the song – Hail the King

by / Saturday, 10 August 2013 / Published in songstory


Bible references: Psalm 34, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 61, Ephesians 1, Revelation 5

Themes: Worship, Messiah/King, justice, nations, declaration

I find myself strangely drawn to movies and documentaries about the end of life as we know it. Is that a bit morbid? I don’t know what it is about the apocalypse. I guess we get pulled into a good story, especially one of salvation in the face of overwhelming destruction. Maybe as well, when we see a picture of the end, it gives perspective to the here and now.

The picture at the end of the Bible’s great story of salvation in Revelation gives a perspective to the here and now that is both sobering and uplifting. Overwhelming destruction, but also incredible salvation from that destruction.

Amazingly, this great story is our story too. Seated around the Lamb on the throne are multitudes. Who will be in that crowd? People from every time and place. Every time a tyrant has usurped the throne. Every place where a leader has trodden down those beneath them, where a despot has stopped at nothing to raise himself up. Finally, a king who is worthy! A king who has a rightful place on the throne, who has lifted up the downtrodden, who has stopped at nothing to redeem those he came to save. Who wouldn’t worship a king like that?

In Psalm 34 (where this song began), David says, “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.” I love the way that he includes the people of God as he worships. Perhaps he could see the picture and hear the song of heaven as he encourages them to “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.”

This song came out of wanting to sing my favourite Christmas carol “Hark the herald” when it wasn’t Christmas. Apparently carols all year round don’t go down well, so I adapted some of Charles Wesley’s words in verse 3 (which he adapted from Malachi’s words in Malachi 4 and applied to Jesus); “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace, Hail the sun of righteousness”.

My favourite moment in recording the EP “Side by Side” was when all the instruments stopped for the last chorus so you can hear the choir singing in full voice “Hail the King of Righteousness, Hail the Prince of Peace”. And one day we will. I’m not sure what number on the heaven playlist this song will be, fortunately there’s plenty of time! I’m hoping we sing a fair bit of Bach and Wesley first, but it will be the best people’s choir ever. And with any luck the Soweto gospel choir will be on songleading that week. For the meantime, enjoy the wonderful choir of 20 of my mates.

© 2013 Liz Gordon

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