Bruce Springsteen famously wrote, “We learned more in a three-minute record, baby than we ever learned in school.” That’s how I felt when I heard Josh Moore talk about the song “We Will Feast” by Sandra McCracken. Josh Moore, City Church Worship Arts Specialist, helped Sandra McCracken write “We Will Feast”—a worship song we sing on Sunday mornings that teaches us about more than worship on Sunday mornings. McCracken teaches us about centering ourselves in God during the ins and outs of life—she teaches us about the nature of worship in a four-minute record.
The sun was not shining and the birds were not chirping when McCracken wrote, “We Will Feast.” She wrote it in a difficult season of life, on a keyboard Joy Hanna (City Church Worship Coordinator) now uses. The song is suffering set to music. Set to a quarter beat, more specifically. A simple song, musically—a bedrock rhythm from which to build complex emotional dynamics.
The shape of the melody shows the story. The melody goes down when describing difficulty. The first thing we know is, there is a fire: “We will not be burned by the fire” But then the melody goes up when centering on the true things of Jesus: “ . . . He is the Lord our God.” And the melody and the lyrics march on through ups and downs with a somber melody until it hits the chorus and soars with joyous victory: “We will feast in the house of Zion . . . He has done great things, we will sing together. We will feast, and weep no more.”
And the rhythm of “We Will Feast” is a walking rhythm—it matches the rhythm of your heartbeat. Josh talks about how it’s the pace of you moving throughout your day—in the kitchen, in the office, in the park. Worship has a rhythm—a thrum that matches your heartbeat. Centering yourself in Jesus through disciplines and through grace is the simple rhythm to build the emotional complexity we experience throughout our days (I’m hurt, I’m happy, I’m angry, I need coffee). Agnostic author, David Foster Wallace put it well when he said if we center ourselves on power, money, stuff, intellect, or your body, those things will eventually “eat you alive.”
We function best when daily rhythms surround the one who is reality. In both the somber seasons and the joyful seasons, we can look to the triumphal resurrection to come in a way that is not hokey, not mere sentimentalism. When the spring sun shines we can lift up our faces and drink it in, and pray that when the sun does not shine, God will give us the strength to still look to the one who is both the rhythm keeper and the rhythm maker.
Join us this Sunday to explore how worship helps us know God and to kick off Holy Week (the week before Easter).
*This blog is from a conversation with Josh Moore and Joy Hanna. Every description of musical elements and details about Sandra McCracken’s song are from them.
Josh and Joy are a part of CIVIC CLUB, the City Church residential band. Check out their album Crux, now available on Spotify and Apple Music. Crux is a collection of previously released songs for meditation on the cross of Christ leading up Lent. Go listen.