Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's the Point?

I would like to take some text space to answer two questions: "Why Psalmples" and "How?" I'll save the first question for a later post, but I'd like to share with how I got started writing music.

I haven't previously told this to many people, but this whole process was birthed in my heart when I was between 12 and 15. I was a regular church-goer, but had no relationship with the Lord what-so-ever. I played trombone in the church choir, but couldn't sing a note nor could I even tell you how to hold a guitar, much less play one. But during church, we would have these times when we would sing from the Psalms - it was all A Capella, very traditional - and certainly not anything I'd ever listen to of my own decision... but I remember at that young age thinking "someone should take those and make songs out of them." And what I meant by "songs" was contemporary music with those words as lyrics. I somehow knew that those were once songs, and they should be again. Never did I think it would be me!

As I grew, I moved out on my own, and in an apartment, a trombone is not well received by neighbors (although it is in my opinion the most beautiful instrument next to the human voice). I had bought an acoustic guitar which sat in my closet for a couple of years, and then one day I heard a song that so captivated me that I had to learn how to play it. I went online and found the tabs, learned the chords, and played that one song over and over for about 6 to 8 months. It was the only song I knew! Naturally I learned more chords, and more songs. I discovered I had this ability to take words that other people had written and put them to music... but I didn't really pursue it in any way. Just as it came to me, and as a creative outlet - a hobby.

Then at the age of 26, I had a life changing Encounter with Jesus Christ. I experienced the reality of my sins being forgiven, and He empowered me to break free from past addictions. I discovered that He had a plan for my life, including who He intended me to marry, and at that moment I made a commitment that I would find out His plan and follow it. I wanted - and still do want - His absolute best for my life.

It was about 9 months later that I was studying the Bible and I discovered something that amazed me. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the whole Bible, was all about the Bible. It is all self-referential, about how amazing the Word of God is. And not only that, I learned that it is what is called acrostic, meaning that the first letter of each line is in order. So the first 8 verses start with the letter A, the next 8 start with B, the next 8 with C, and so on (in Hebrew, of course, not English.) I thought "Wow... this is the alphabet song! It was written so that little children could memorize it!" I decided to do just that. Every opportunity I had, I read it, wrote it, and recited it from memory. I went to visit my family 8 hours away, and as I drove I shut off the my radio and just recited it over and over and over. I was doing great! I had about 40 verses solid. With only 136 to go!

That's when it happened. I remember distinctly sitting in my car in a Target parking lot, waiting for a friend, and all of a sudden it just bubbled out of me... "Blessed are... the undefiled in the way..." as a song. I thought "wow, that was cool..." I kept singing it over and over. I got home and picked up my guitar. In an hour or two, I had the whole section "Aleph" of Psalm 119 written, and I knew I was going to set the whole Psalm to music. It took about two years for me to write, but I have done just that.

And with that, I will segue into the next post, which is Aleph, the Psalm that started it all. I'll share "why psalmples" in the near future.

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