It was always going to be the final song on my album, “Spheres of Influence.”
It may be the most recorded song of all time. Certainly it has a storied history, and a genesis founded in fall and redemption.
The song is “Amazing Grace” and it is my favorite hymn.
And while there have been hundreds if not thousands of arrangements of this song, our version was born out of necessity…
It was the final night of a music/missions tour of Italy and Switzerland. On this trip, Project Onefifty was born…but that is another story for another time. Our band had played a piazza outreach that afternoon in Lugano, Switzerland and the event that evening was the culmination of our seed-sowing.
Pastor Antonio loved blues and jazz, and our set that night found us stretching out with long musical jams. We loved it, of course, and thankfully the crowd was with us. Finally we played our last tune. We were spent…but still the pastor wanted more. He wrapped up the evening promising the crowd one more song (all this passed along to us through our interpreter).
We were stumped. While the pastor was concluding, we called a band huddle to figure out what the heck we were gonna play. Someone suggested “Amazing Grace” and an idea for an arrangement popped into my brain. We agreed on a tempo and a key, and I told the guys to follow me for the intro. We’d wing it from there…
There are moments in music where seemingly the stars align and every note feels inspired. This was just such a night. Steve found a new resonance to his voice as we soared into a key change. Barry’s bass line and Josh’s propulsion on drums was the sound of thunder. David was playing a screaming organ part, and it all felt like magic. During a solo section my guitar burned like fire from heaven. It wasn’t so much us playing this song…the song was playing through us. It was a highlight of the tour, and Pastor Antonio was content.
When it came time to record my project (yet another story in and of itself), I knew this arrangement had to be included. I did have one twist to add…
Maybe I’m amazed by the way you love me all the time
Maybe I’m amazed by the way I need you
I added a coda.
In musical terminology the coda of a song is a ‘…more or less independent passage, at the end of a composition, introduced to bring it to a satisfactory close.’
Another definition is ‘a concluding section or part, especially one of a conventional form and serving as a summation of preceding themes, motifs, etc., as in a work of literature or drama.’
For the coda of my arrangement of “Amazing Grace” I wanted to weave into the musical fabric a quote from my favorite song by Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but that moment feels like magic even to this day. It always invokes the same feeling that I experienced during our final night in Lugano.
In a few short weeks from now, I’ll be taking the coda of a different sort.
For six years now I have been blessed to play electric guitar with the worship ministry of the Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, Alabama. While the miles between Hoover and my home in the Nashville area are many, I have gladly traversed them each week to make music with my friends in service to and in honor of the One worthy of all worship and praise. The opportunity to play at the Street was both unexpected and God sent, and these past six years have been incredible and life changing. I will miss the early morning stars and seeing the sun rise over the Magic City. I will miss my friends most of all.
It is a bittersweet time, this song drawing to a close…
But in this season of thankfulness, I cannot help but to be thankful for the journey He has me on. I am indeed amazed by the way He loves and guides every step along the way.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
I was blind but now I see
His mercy and grace are amazing indeed…
The measures race past. It’s time to take the coda.