It is time for another Song Lyric article! During this period of Pentecost 2017, I have three songs that have been soaking into my subconsciousness. That is, I constantly find myself singing these songs in my head, day after day.
Who Am I? was part of the worship play set for Sunday 28 May. The song really spoke into my soul at the time, even though I have heard the song many times before. Partly, as will be mentioned further down, the theme of our identity in Christ is a key reminder for us believers to remain humble and to know our place before the Almighty God.
This write up is based on the Story Behind the Song video available for viewing on YouTube. It was inspired by Mark Hall the lead singer of Casting Crowns whilst he was travelling home with his family. During a time of personal worship, Mark considered:
Who am I to think I can just call up to God whenever I want, from the middle of nowhere, and expect Him to hear me?
This initial thought led to the next series of somewhat contradictory thoughts on us being a new creation, more than conquerors, whilst also insignificant like a blade of grass that can rise up and go within the space of a day. In the video interview, Mark spoke on this contradiction that whilst it is true that we are conquerors in Christ, we simultaneously need to acknowledge that our life is temporary compared to the eternal and omnipresent nature of God, who we need to acknowledge and pray to because of what He has done for me.
The song speaks into the identity of us as children of the Most High God. The need for us as believers to remain humble is captured in the essence of proclaiming “not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done”. This part of the song is identified by Mark as one of his favourite lines in the song.
With a duration of some 5 minutes, this song is moderately paced and of reasonable length. Primarily played with a piano in 4:4 / common time, the original key for the song is B major with tempo of 66bpm. It begins softly with the lyrics driving the song to crescendo. The verse helps us frame our mind and perspective. The pre-chorus then has the full-impact lyrics reminding us that our identity in Christ is because He first loved us and there was nothing we could do to deserve His grace. This is the same core theme which unites Who Am I with songs like Good Good Father.
The chorus emphasizes our human frailty beautifully. the lyrics wax and really drive home the theme that we are nothing without Christ. The song is quite interesting because whilst God is clearly the focus around which we are praising and singing, the only reference is to “Lord”. The lyrics never talk explicitly about Jesus or the Cross, but it is clearly and strongly implied. In this way, the song has a wide appeal and is even acceptable in environments outside of churches and communities of faith. I suspect this helps to explain the phenomenal success that the song has enjoyed since it was first performed in late 2003 and then officially released in 2004. Spending six weeks as the #1 song on the Billboard Christian Songs it was only much later in 2011 that the milestone of 0.5M digital downloads was achieved; a Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Who am I that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know to my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I that the bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart
Not because of who I am
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You, hear me when I’m calling
Lord You catch me when I’m falling
And You told me who I am
I am Your’s
Who am I that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again
Who am I that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
I am Your’s
The following is the traditional order and arrangement of verses with chorus in which the song is orignially performed:
- Verse 1
- Verse 2
In the Live from Atlanta album extended play recording of the song, Mark ends the song with the following prayer, and likewise, I think it is an appropriate way to conclude this write-up.
Father I thank you that You know me
You know my name
You know what tomorrow holds for me
You already know when I’m going to slip up
And you love me
Father there’s not a person that you don’t love
We thank You for who You are
Because of who You are