Chasing the Spirit
BY HENRY ROWE
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king...” – Psalm 45
Most of us, at sometime in our lives, have encountered God through music. Whether it’s a great hymn, praise song or symphony, there comes that moment when time seems to stand still and we glimpse heaven in all its glory. Such is the power of song.
Being a musician, my life has always been filled with music. My earliest memories are of singing in church, and to this day, great hymns still stir me in a way nothing else can.
Of course, I also encounter God through music every Sunday morning as I lead the Praise and Worship Team at Chevy Chase UMC, where I serve as the contemporary worship leader.
But I also encounter God through music in the most unexpected ways – like at 3 a.m. when I wake up singing an old hymn that I haven’t thought of in 20 years, which might be just perfect (if tweaked slightly) for Sunday morning worship.
Experience tells me the Holy Spirit keeps its own schedule, which doesn’t necessarily match mine. Many weeks, when I just can’t seem to find the right song for an anthem and time is short, the Spirit lays the spark of an idea on my plate – nagging at the corners of my mind until I stop and pay attention. Many songs I’ve written for Sunday morning are still getting their finishing touches on Saturday night.
When writing music, I’m often inspired by God’s work and blessings in my life and by how Jesus has changed my heart.
For example, before I became a Christian, I used to have nightmares that would frighten me and my wife. One morning after Christ had begun His “good work in me,” my wife told me that I had been singing in my sleep. Well, I just had to write the song “Singing in my Sleep,” the chorus of which goes like this:
Lately I’ve be singing in my sleep
But I’m never really quite sure what I say
I’ll bet it’s something about grace
Something ‘bout seeing His face
Something about how it feels to be free
Jesus Christ He gave his life for me
And so I praise Him singing in my sleep.
Listen to the song | Read the lyric sheet
As a songwriter, my antenna is always up for great ideas. I once heard a minister on TV say, “We’ve got to live our lives like Jesus, walking slowly through the crowd.” The minute I heard that line, I knew it was a song I had to write. Here’s the first verse of “Walkin’ Slowly Through a Crowd”:
We serve a risen Savior who taught us how to live
But He was always on the lookout for whoever needed him
Go ask Zacchaeus and he’ll tell you, I was sittin’ way up in a tree
I was high above the crowd, quiet as a mouse, but still He noticed me
You’ve really got to slow down, take the time to find out
Walkin’ like Jesus, slowly through the crowd.
Sometimes a book I’m reading will inspire me. When I read the book “Let Us Be Bread,” I wrote the song, “Bread for the World,” which opens with these lines:
Gathered on Sunday, scattered on Monday
Bread for the world, bread for the world
Worship all week, never just one day
If you want to be bread for the world.
Music is an expression of my own faith journey – a way of giving voice to my growing relationship with God and the gratitude I feel for the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.
Hopefully, my music helps to inspire the faith journey of others along the way. Of course, the most perfect song we can offer is the song of our lives given in love and service as a response to God’s great love for us.
Henry Rowe serves as contemporary worship leader at Chevy Chase UMC. CDs of his original music are available by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org.