Higher Than I #7: How Majestic

Higher Than I

How Majestic is the sixth track of the Clayton Church worship album, Higher Than I, which was officially launched on Sunday 1 May.

Album Tracks/Index

  1. Praise to the Lord Almighty
  2. Higher Than I
  3. Blessed Assurance
  4. Great is Your Love
  5. You Are 
  6. How Majestic (this article)
  7. I Desire
  8. Breathe on Me
  9. What A Friend We Have In Jesus
  10. Wonderful Cross
  11. Summary / One Month Review

Official Links

Song Background

How Majestic is an interesting original song written by the Clayton Church worship team. As a team we wanted to get together and write songs together. Our worship director just had Psalm 8 on his mind which speaks of the Lord being majestic over the earth. He was trying to make something out of it when one of the keyboardists rocked up to the session and shared the exact same thought and Psalm – both are thus credited as the songwriters to this ballad. As our worship director read more of the Psalm, he developed a mental picture of all the angels and all the people – everyone just rejoicing. This was the origins of the bridge – shout all you heavenly hosts, join with one voice to sing. Those words spoken and sung exemplifies the heart of the worship team in desiring all of earth rejoicing to and before our God, acknowledging His Lordship over all.

Psalm 8 is a beautiful poem covering just 9 verses:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Lyric Analysis

The first verse refers to both creation and Genesis and in this way, is appropriately framed in starting first and foremost with God, our maker and Heavenly father. After all, Genesis 1:1 states “In the beginning, God made the heavens and earth”. The biblical truths that permeate the whole album are boldly proclaimed throughout this song. Much of the first chapter of Genesis, in particular verse 16 plus Genesis 2:7 is the reference behind the second line of verse 1.

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. Genesis 1:16

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

A number of verses throughout the bible combine to form the theology behind the simple lyrics “Your glory reflects beauty unseen”:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

The final lyrics of the verse acknowledge the unknowable, indescribable nature of God’s love. As 1 Corinthians 2:9 states, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what Godhas prepared for those who love him.” This verse reinforces the words from Isaiah 40:28: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

One of the interesting features is the nature of the rhyming scheme – a weak rhyming pattern between the second and fourth lines is possibly perceivable but at face value, none of the four lines rhyme. The beauty of How Majestic is nonetheless present because when reciting these lines, a natural rhyme and syncopation emerges. The natural pause that occurs mid-way in the second line creates a cycle of triplets: 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

Maker of heaven and earth
You light up the stars, made man from dust
Your glory reflects beauty unseen
No one can fathom the depth of your love

The second verse repeats the syncopation with a continuation of focus on God, this time as one who knows each one of us by name. Biblical references that back uip the lyrics include:

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Isaiah 40:26a

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

For the last half of the verse, Leviticus 26:12 provides a clear biblical foundation: “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” This was not just an an Old Testament reality, but continues to be a living truth for all of us, particularly given the New Testament promise from 2 Corinthians 6:16: “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

You know each one of us by name
Each hair on our head you put in place
But why does a God so great
Come down on earth to walk amongst us

Since the song structure is designed to be sung with the verses back-to-back, the second verse adds a pre-choral build, with the typical characteristics of the sub-dominant chords and probing harmonically. Lyrically, it is the answer  to the question posed: “Why does God walk amongst us here on earth?” – “Simply because God loves us.” Whilst not a strict rhyme between “love” and “earth”, it is consistent with the “rhyming” nature of the verses and thus the pre-chorus declares the titular lyrics “How majestic is Your name in all the earth”.

It’s love,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth

The chorus declares Father God to be the One whom all creation – heaven and earth adores. He is our Heavenly Father. This declaration aligns with the sentiment of Revelation 5:13 which states “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!”.  The chorus makes a second reference to Genesis 2:7 where we acknowledge Him as the one who breathed life into us. The final line is a bit more of a mouthful, cramming all the words of the phrase into the syncopated beat of the song; a reference to Easter and God’s sacrifice on the cross as His solution to ensuring us a fate restored to being with Him.

Father whom heaven and earth adores
Your name is lifted high, as we glorify
The one who breathed life in us
Yet came down and took our place
on the cross to change our fate, Lord

The third verse sits on its own and focuses on the wonder of creation – mountains, water and incredible landscapes – all made by the Creator God. The second pre-chorus differs ever so slightly in the first phrase, where we sing “Lord, oh Lord” instead of “It’s love”, before the title lyric is sung as the bridge to the chorus “How majestic is your name in all the Earth”.

Mountains and waters so deep
Incredible landscapes you made all these
Beautiful creatures and wonders
Millions of stars, planets so amazing
Lord, oh Lord
How majestic is your name in all the Earth

The bridge evokes all kinds of reactions and is clearly the apex of the song and the corporate worship.In between the chorus and bridge, the instrumental quietens down. In one of the recordings, our worship director is heard exhorting the congregation to simply “church – this is where we lift up with one voice and bring out a shout unto Him:”

Shout with the heavenly hosts
Join with one voice to sing
Glory to our God most high
He is good, He’s alive

This bridge is a powerful corporate anthem that is both musically and lyrically a phenomenal experience of corporate worship. Turn up the volume and just close your eyes and picture yourself along with the whole of creation worshipping God as the sole audience of our praises. The original arrangement for the song as performed was:

  1. Verse 1
  2. Verse 2
  3. Chorus
  4. Verse 3
  5. Chorus (twice)
  6. Instrumental
  7. Bridge (twice)
  8. Instrumental
  9. Chorus
  10. Bridge (vocals only, twice)

With a performance time of 6.5 minutes, this arrangement may appear long but is offset somewhat by the 156 beats per minute pace, which ensures that the song does not appear to drag. Set in the key of E major, this worship song is easy to sing for all people – guys and girls and the greatest impact for the bridge is where you have lots of people crying out in praise “Shout with the heavenly host…”