"Marvelous Light" - Ellie Holcomb

From press release for Ellie Holcomb:

Inspired by God’s Word, Ellie recorded and released two EPs full of songs based on the Psalms and other scriptures, Magnolia EP and With You Now. Even with zero dollars spent on promotion, the response to these two EPs was remarkable in a way Ellie never saw coming. To wit, they both hit #1 on the iTunes Christian/Gospel charts. 

After releasing both EPs Ellie says that she “cried joy tears for about a week just dreaming about how God would encourage people through His word in the songs.” 

Now with Holcomb’s first solo effort, As Sure As the Sun (Full Heart Music), Scripture is, once again, intentionally at the forefront of all 10 tracks. Written before—and while—Ellie was pregnant with her daughter, Ellie says her hope is to refresh and encourage weary and wounded hearts.


She’s put up 8 songs for free download at

and here’s her recently-released song, ‘Marvelous Light.’

Get the chord chart for this song at


I am not who I once was
Defined by all the things I’ve done
Afraid my shame would be exposed
Afraid of really being known
But then you gave my heart a home

So I walked out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

With years of keeping secrets safe
Wondering if I could change
'Cause when you're hiding all alone
Your heart can turn into a stone
And that’s not the way I want to go

So I walk out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

Here’s another version of the song:

There’s no place I would rather be
Your light is Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous

You have come to set us free
You are Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous


So I walked out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light


Here’s another live version of the song …

and here’s the studio full-band version with the lyrics embedded:

'Aiwien Phase Na Javein' (Pakistan)

Here’s a praise song from Pakistan in qawali style, led by Mubarik Matto.


Here’s an English translation of the Urdu song title as provided by my friend Eric: ""Don’t be trapped in a snare, awake from your sleep! Jesus is calling you!"

This video came from the following Facebook page - thanks to Eric Sarwar for finding and sharing it!
Masih Geet and Zaboor

In the Urdu language of Pakistan (and related cultures) “Geet” is a song genre and “Zaboor” refers to the Psalms.

"I Wanna See Heaven" - The Katinas (Samoa)

Today the close friend of a close friend died after a long battle with cancer. I’m posting this song with that death in mind, as well as other recent deaths among my family and friends.

The Katinas are a contemporary Christian music group. The family of five brothers hails from American Samoa, and moved to Washington state (USA), after the death of their mother in 1988. The group’s members sang in church as children, and began playing fairs, soon moving up to nationwide slots opening for R. Kelly, Jasmine Guy, DC Talk, and Amy Grant. They have released 16 albums starting in 1991.


The Katinas posted this song online just two days ago and wrote,

"A few months ago, we were in our Homeland of American Samoa to lay to rest our beloved sister Eua. When we were there, we recorded this video at the historic Siona (1st church to be built on the island) in the village of Leone.

We dedicate this to anyone who has experienced loss. Heaven awaits those who have lived a life of faith in Christ Jesus. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:8.”

"Lord Jesus, receive this lamb of your redeeming into your loving and everlasting arms. Father, in Jesus’ name, please flood the relatives, friends, and all who will miss her so much with your peace which is beyond all human understanding."

There are moments in this life
When it’s hard to carry on
When I think about my father
And all the loved ones that are gone
Friends and close relationships
Somewhere on the other side
They’ve passed into forever
But the love has never died

Sometimes this tired old world
Starts bringing my heart down
But you gotta bear the cross
If you wanna wear the crown
I often get impatient
As Father Time keeps dragging on
I’ve waded through the darkness
Now I’m ready for the dawn
I’m ready for the dawn

I want to see heaven
Where the faithful carry on
I want to see heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven
Where the pain of sin is gone
In heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven

As I read the morning paper
It hits me once again
We’re surrounded by the evil
Of a world that’s dead in sin
And the only sane conclusion
That my crazy mind can reach
Is to set my heart on heaven
And to live the things I preach

So I’m living every moment
As if this day was my last
Put my treasures where my heart is
And forget about the past
And if Jesus comes tomorrow
I’ll be ready to depart
As He leads me to my mansion
I’ll be following my heart
I’ll be following my heart

I want to see heaven
Where the faithful carry on
I want to see heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven
Where the pain of sin is gone
In heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven

I’ve tried to go the distance
But it’s more than I can bear
They say there’s no more crying
And no more dying there
I’ve held on to the promise
Whosoever will believe
Will have life that’s never ending
I believe
I believe

I want to see heaven
Where the faithful carry on
I want to see heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven
Where the pain of sin is gone
In heaven
Oh Lord
I want to see heaven
Here’s the studio version of the same song:

'Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed' retuned by Redemption Hill Music

Redemption Hill Music is a collection of musicians from Redemption Hill Church in Richmond, Virginia.


Redemption Hill Music released a NEW EP today, Poor Wayfaring Stranger, featuring six hymns and original songs sung during Sunday gatherings. It is available for download at the Bandcamp link below.

Here’s my favorite song from the EP, an interesting “retuning” of the lyrics by Isaac Watts which mixes minor and major tonalities.

Lyrics by Isaac Watts
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears 

Alas! And did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die? 
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I? 

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine 
And bathed in its own blood 
While the firm mark of wrath divine 
His soul in anguish stood 

Well might the sun in darkness hide 

And shut his glories in 

When Christ, the mighty Maker died 
For man the creature’s sin 

Was it for crimes that I had done 
He groaned upon the tree? 
Amazing pity! grace unknown! 
And love beyond degree! 

But drops of grief can ne’er repay 
The debt of love I owe: 
Here, Lord, I give my self away 
’Tis all that I can do.
Download the the whole EP (tips appreciated!) at

'It Is Not Death To Die' - Sovereign Grace

In recent months, my father died, a close friend from college died, and another close friend is providing pastoral care for a friend expected to die this month, so songs for funerals and mourning are on my mind.

Today I found the great list of 43 songs for use at funerals and more, compiled by Kristen Gilles. See her list and excellent essay on ‘Songs for Grieving’ at

Through her list, I found this truly terrific song from Sovereign Grace Music. It’s currently my favorite song; may it bring healing to other who need the message.

A song about hope and a new beginning after death by Sovereign Grace from their album “Come Weary Saints.

Original Words by Henri Malan (1787-1864), Non, ce n’est pas mour­ir que d’al­ler vers son Dieu

Translated by George Bethune (1847), Music, Chorus, and Alternate Words by Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Music.

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high 
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne 
Delivered from our fears

O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save 
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling 
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing 
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years 
To praise You evermore

© 2008 Integrity’s Praise! Music/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Get free scores for guitar, keyboard, strings, lead sheet and more at

You can buy a lead sheet at

If you want to sing with the backing track, get it at

43 Songs for Grieving (Kristen Gilles)

Kristen Gilles is a worship leader at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky (where I’ve visited a few times with delight). She recently made a helpful blog post about the necessity of having songs to use while mourning:


I think that having songs to use when mourning and in grief is quite important for personal and corporate worship, so here are excerpts from her essay as well as the list of 40 recommended songs:

Go to most church services, and you’ll be able to sing along with many celebratory songs of victory, blessedness and joy. And that makes sense—we are children of God, having been forgiven of our sins and adopted into God’s family through the blood of Jesus. What a reason to celebrate!

But we live in a fallen, sinful world, full of suffering, pain and death. Not only does each Christian feel his or her share of sorrow, but we are commanded to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15), even when we feel like we’re “on the mountain” rather than “in the valley” …


Many of you have asked us where you can find more worship songs that help God’s children mourn with hope. So we’ve curated a free Spotify playlist for you that features over 40 songs—3 1/2 hours’ worth—of laments and songs of comfort and assurance in Christ. These include classic hymns and contemporary praise songs, from many different churches and worship leaders.

Whether you’re searching for songs for a funeral or memorial service or your church service or your personal devotions, this playlist is for you. You’ll find songs that speak to your heart, allow you to express your sorrow, and remind you of your hope in Christ, whether you’re suffering loss, ill health, depression or any kind of pain …


You can click here to listen to Kristen’s songlist of 43 songs in the “For Grieving in Hope, Funerals” playlist in Spotify


You can follow Kristen’s writings and media at her blog:
Go to her original post here to read her full essay on having songs for mourning, including a section about the loss of her child.

For those who don’t use Spotify, here are 3 screenshots of the playlist so you can find the songs some other way: Her playlist of 43 songs lasts for 3 hours and 24 minutes.






For those of you choosing songs for a funeral (like some of my pastor friends), or those of you going through a time of grief and mourning for whatever reason … “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). And when you feel that you can’t trust God anymore in your despair or grief … may He reveal Himself to be present with you even there.


Peter Mayer “Holy Now”

Here’s a song I stumbled upon by Peter Mayer of Minnesota.


The theme reminds me of the famous verse of Habakkuk 2:14: “As the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.” The holiness of God is all around for those who have eyes to see. As a Christian I believe there is a special holiness within a church service, and within the Eucharist. But there is also a type of holy-ground holiness of God’s Presence everywhere, as this song says.

The song is on Peter’s album called 'Million Year Mind.'

Holy Now

When I was a boy, each week 
On Sunday, we would go to church 
And pay attention to the priest 
He would read the holy word 
And consecrate the holy bread 
And everyone would kneel and bow 
Today the only difference is 
Everything is holy now 
Everything, everything 
Everything is holy now 

When I was in Sunday school 
We would learn about the time 
Moses split the sea in two 
Jesus made the water wine 
And I remember feeling sad 
That miracles don’t happen still 
But now I can’t keep track 
‘Cause everything’s a miracle 
Everything, Everything 
Everything’s a miracle 

Wine from water is not so small 
But an even better magic trick 
Is that anything is here at all 
So the challenging thing becomes 
Not to look for miracles 
But finding where there isn’t one 

When holy water was rare at best 
It barely wet my fingertips 
But now I have to hold my breath 
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it 
It used to be a world half there 
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down 
But I walk it with a reverent air 
‘Cause everything is holy now 
Everything, everything 
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face 
And say it’s not a testament 
That’d be very hard to say 
See another new morning come 
And say it’s not a sacrament 
I tell you that it can’t be done 

This morning, outside I stood 
And saw a little red-winged bird 
Shining like a burning bush 
Singing like a scripture verse 
It made me want to bow my head 
I remember when church let out 
How things have changed since then 
Everything is holy now 
It used to be a world half-there 
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down 
But I walk it with a reverent air 
‘Cause everything is holy now 

'Spontaneous Live Worship' - Paul Anleitner

Paul Anleitner is a friend of a friend. He writes,

From 2010 thru 2012, I recorded dozens of our worship gatherings and conferences where me and my friends had the opportunity to minister. Nearly any time I knew we would have an hour or two to worship, I wanted to capture it. I knew that when we got together in an atmosphere of freedom, dedicated to authentic communion with God, special moments would happen and I wanted to just have a history of those moments to keep…

My goal, and the goal of all the amazing friends of mine who have worshipped with me at these gatherings, has always been to be open and vulnerable with our hearts to God and all those in the room, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit even it means looking foolish, and to not be afraid to take risks on instruments and with our voices as we respond to His goodness. To share that vulnerability with the world can be a little frightening, kind of like sharing an intimate conversation with a good friend or your spouse with the whole word. Those kinds of conversations aren’t always neat, aren’t always meticulously planned; sometimes they just happen and they are messy and maybe they don’t even make sense to others who would listen on…

My hope is that the “songs” on this collection would encourage listeners to not be afraid of exploring more of God’s heart in worship and in prayer. There’s some musical errors, there’s some tempo issues, there’s a good dose of our imperfections as humans on these spontaneous songs, but there’s also freedom, the power of the Spirit, musical risk, and beautiful sacrifices of praise. When you are wildly in love and you are trying to express that love, its messy, unpredictable, and full of emotion. I just want to bless your own spontaneous expression of that wild love and encourage you to create your own song or prayer in the instrumental sections of songs or along with the instrumental tracks…

Download ‘Volume 1’ and read all of Paul’s writings about the album at

It has 7 tracks of ‘spontaneous live worship’ and 2 studio tracks.

Making Room for Music and Dance (Costa Rica)

Laura and Tony Macias are missionaries serving with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Costa Rica.

A year ago, Laura participated at a conference of the International Orality Network (ION). Some friends and I gave seminars on using arts and orality in missions, spoke in various settings, and led multicultural worship songs. Later, Laura contacted Erica, one of my previous grad students who had organized our team’s various roles, spoke in plenary sessions, and taught seminars.. 

Laura wrote, “I wanted to say thank-you for the profound affect your presentation on orality and the arts had on my ministry. It was during last year’s ION conference that I listened to your session. Shortly after being enlightened with the valuable tool of music and dance, I began opening our orality training in Latin America with indigenous music and sounds. The church leaders and those in attendance felt validated upon hearing their own heart language in expressive forms of communication.”

Laura went on to write a recently-published article about how she used this training in her role as an 'Orality Specialist' with the Ngobe indigenous people of Costa Rica. It’s published online at

Please follw that link to read that very moving story about how Juanita, a Ngobe woman, composed and sang a song of praise after hearing Bible stories.

See a 1-minute video of the song at

This was Juanita’s song:

The one who walked over the water
Is also here with me

And I feel his presence
I feel it in my hands, feet, and soul and all over me

Let him move
Let him move about 3x

You are still walking
You are still here with me

And I feel him all over me
I feel him in my hands, feet, and soul, and all over my being

Let him move
Let him move about 3x

'Find the Cost of Freedom'

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, one of my favorite bands was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Their 1971 album 'Four Way Street' was one of favorites, and quickly rose to be the #1 hit album.


Here’s the audio of a studio version they recorded of a song composed by Steven Stills:

Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down
Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down


Still’s original reference was to four American college students killed at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 by the National Guard. The event caused four million students across the US to go on strike, and had a major impact on public opinion in the US towards the Vietnam War.

I definitely appreciate that meaning, and the massacre of the students impacted my own perceptions of the war as I grew older. Later, further meaning was given to the song lyrics (by other people) about the ultimate price paid by soldiers to “keep the world free” in various wars.

I have come to also appreciate the song as referring to the death and burial of Christ, paying the “cost of freedom” for all the world: the Prince of Peace slaughtered to begin the process of restoring Shalom to a broken world filled with war. i’d love to use the song at the end of a Good Friday service some year.

Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down


Here’s a live version of the song, sung by Crosby, Stills, and David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd):

Here’s a terrific set of links on ‘Freedom in Christ’ from The Junia Project, a Christian feminist blog that I deeply appreciate:

Here’s commentary by Greg Boyd on some outrageous statements conflating the Kingdom of God with the USA by John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the USA:

Here’s a live version of the song by CSNY (in a different key than the studio version):

Finally, here’s an excellent essay by Zack Hunt - The Treasonous Love Of Jesus (A 4th Of July Reflection)’