This is day 3 of 31 Days of Songs and Stories. For an index of all the posts in the series, click here.
“Shout to the Lord” is one of the most enduringly popular worship songs of the last twenty years. As a teenager it is the first worship song I really loved.
“My Jesus, my Saviour,
Lord, there is none like you.
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength.
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship you.”
I had known Jesus as my comfort, my shelter and place of refuge before this, but I was gradually realising that following Jesus should also make a difference to how I lived, and that worship was not only about singing, but about living. I’m not sure I could have put it into words at the time, but I just knew there was something about this song that connected with me, and I would never tire of singing it or listening to it.
Even today, 23 years after it was written, it is still sung by millions of people in churches around the world every Sunday. Though I personally have not heard it in church recently, according to the CCLI reports for the UK it is still the 9th most popular song.
This fact is even more amazing when you consider the story behind the song. In 1993, Darlene Zschech was a young wife and mother, struggling with money worries. After receiving an unexpected tax bill, she went to her piano and began to worship God. As she said in an interview for Today’s Christian Woman, “”I felt I could either scream and pull my hair out—or praise God.”
As she focussed on the words of Psalms 96 and 100, she began to play and sing, and the song just seemed to pour out of her. She says in an interview for the TV series “Principles of Praise”: “I really didn’t even write it. I just really sang it. It took about 20 minutes.”
Eventually she shared it with her worship pastor. In the interview she shares that she didn’t realise the song was anything special. She made the worship pastor turn his back as she played and sang, with great embarrassment and many apologies, but immediately the worship pastor realised that this song was something special.
Shortly after this Darlene Zschech sang it in her church, during the offering and the response was amazing and it quickly spread to other churches and eventually all around the world. It was even sung by the final eight American Idol contestants on “Idol Gives Back” in 2008- a fact which blows my mind, as I can’t imagine that happening on a prime time TV show in the UK.
It is certainly a song that God has used powerfully in the lives of many people, and the thing that strikes me most about all the interviews I have read or watched is Darlene Zschech’s humility. She constantly gives the glory to God, claiming: “I was simply in the right place at the right time.” “Once I sang it outside of myself, it just took on its own… It was gone. It was out of my hands. I can’t really take any credit for it.”
Join me every day this month for more stories of God using songs, including the stories behind worship songs being written and guest posts from several friends.
linking with Literacy Musing Monday