Evolution of a Song

I remember it like it was yesterday. Hidden inside the walls of a college ministry at the University of Tennessee, Will and I sat ready to close out a 100 hours of prayer week. We were flatly lit up by cheap fluorescent light. Drop ceiling, white walls, no sound system. Nothing glamorous, but we like it that way. No props to entertain. Only worshippers remain.  Armed with one acoustic and one small djembe, our sound had no ability to impress. We waited on God, and the music became a channel for the passion in the room. Then a prayer surfaced…

You provide the fire, I’ll provide the sacrifice.
You provide the Spirit, I will open up inside.
Fill me up God, Fill me up

I’ve watched Will do this for years. He finds the chorus that wants to be sung in the moment. It’s as if everyone in the room is leading worship, and Will is simply helping find lyrics and melodies to match the moment and what the Spirit is doing.

This time was no different. Just a spontaneous chorus caught in the moment. Somewhere in an old journal of mine are lyrics from this song. I remember thinking, “why write them down, there’s only two lines?” I wrote them down anyways and I’m sure glad I did.

A few weeks later, Will and I were in the studio working on some songs, which later became our first EP. The Fill Me Up chorus was still just in idea form, sitting loosely in our brains and in the journal. I remember talking about whether it could be a song.

“Its too short. We can’t call this a song.”
“Maybe we can add a bridge or tag?”

 Not exactly sure how it happened, but I vaguely remember Will jumping on the keyboard and playing the melody to what is now the “Love of God overflow” tag. Then the first lyrics made their appearance.

“Sweet, one new line. One more to go.”
I was in the tracking room, setting up drums, and then I started yelling out lyric ideas through the glass window to Will on the other side.
“Permeate, all my soul.” 

I think I was half joking. Who sings the word “permeate” anyway?
Well, Will grabbed it, and that was it. It stuck.

You never know how a song will evolve. From the humble beginnings of a fluorescent-lit college ministry room, to a simple home studio hidden away in a 110-year-old house, Fill Me Up became a song because God wanted it to. I write all of this, because I want to help demystify the worship song writing experience. You don’t have to join a writing session with famous worship leaders to write a worship song. They happen when they’re supposed to happen. It’s our joy and privilege to worship the King of Kings, and offer our gifts and talents as the small fish and loaves that they are. Let’s let God do the multiplying.

I felt like God gave me a special gift this summer concerning this song. I was in South Africa on tour with the guys, and we got word that Kim Walker sang Fill Me Up at the Jesus Culture stadium event in Chicago. We pulled up the recorded stream of the song, and I was moved to tears to how God could take the simple lyrics and melody born from our community, and see if impact 18,000 people in a stadium that night. It was my birthday that day, and I have to say it was a really special gift.

So yeah, just wanted to share that story from the drummer’s perspective. I’m proud of my best friend who had courage to release a song that didn’t even feel like one. You never know what can happen when God get’s in the mix. May the fishes and loaves multiplication continue! Its all we will ever have anyway.