Great Are You Lord

As has become a custom, on my birthday, I celebrate it here at XBOP by giving all honour and glory unto God in the form of song lyric analysis. For 2017 and this, my 35th birthday (yes… that’s my age!), the song that God has had playing repeatedly in my head is Great Are You Lord, which was written by a band called All Sons & Daughters.

Although I personally have not heard this song much, when first introduced to it just some weeks ago, it has quickly has been a new favourite and seasonal worship ballad that draws me into praising God.

Bible Verse References

According to an interview given by band member Leslie, two bible passages align with the inspiration and heart of the song: Jude 1:5 and Ezekiel 37:4-10. Let us first discuss and examine the Jude verse, which is specifically taken from a version of the Bible called The Voice:

You have heard the stories many times, and the Spirit has enlightened you about their meaning, but you still need to be reminded. Remember when the Lord saved our ancestors from the land in Egypt? He breathed life into their earthen lungs and took back the life from those who did not believe.

The version of the Bible used is important, because in other more traditional versions, the verse is simpler in message:

So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus[b] first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.

In the Voice version, the extrapolation of God breathing to give life, and also in taking if from those who did not believe is a more poetic description of God simply destroying those who did not remain faithful. This song, relies on the poetic referencing of God’s breathe of life as a key theme in the chorus.

Use and reference of Ezekiel 37 was not prior knowledge for me, even though I had used the same passage as divine inspiration around the time when I was first introduced to the song. I will withhold from discussing my own latest song writing endeavours since that is another story for another time, but the whole narrative with language about dry bones giving praise to God and coming to life gives the bridge later on the dramatic effect in praise, especially coupled with the breathe in our lungs giving and pouring out praise to God.

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.'” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.'” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Background Story

The significance of Ezekiel 37 is from a common source for both the band and myself personally – not that I was able to attend in person, but the beauty of having listened online to Passion 2013 where Louie Giglio spoke from that same passage. I remember being fascinated by the passage being read out and Louie’s talk and reading of Ezekiel 37 transitioning perfectly into Chris Tomlin’s song Awake My Soul.

Jason Ingram started the song off in a writing session and this song was the first collaboration with him for the band. One of the stand out lyrics was “It’s Your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise” which had both a sweetness and depth to it. The timing of Passion 2013 and Louie Giglio’s message from Ezekiel 37 really resonated with the band members who were attending. Louie himself said, “Worship is when we give God His breath back”, which was a unity in the Spirit since the song spoke thematically about that very statement. Louie continued talking about how God breathed into the dry bones, and how they in turn, breathed out. The poetic description from Ezekiel 37 sun defining worship as “breathing in and breathing out” is an image that reminds us that our act of worship originates and ends with the One we worship – a gift from God.

Lyrics

Verse 1
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

Chorus
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

Bridge
All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

As you can see, the lyrics for the song are actually quite short. The typical arrangement is for repeating the song so it becomes:

  • Verse 1
  • Chorus
  • Verse 1
  • Chorus
  • Short instrumental
  • Bridge (3 ~ 4 times)
  • Chorus

The repetition of the bridge helps to build the song to a crescendo and climax where entire congregations can really just immerse themselves into that heart of shouting out praise to God, from the depths of their heart and bone. Great are You, Lord!