The power of a song with meaning

[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]

As I listened to the sermon, the application of God’s Word got under my skin. The Holy Spirit was doing His gracious, uncomfortable work of convicting me. Jonathan’s topic was “Forgiveness”. His Scripture was Matthew 18. The indebted servant was forgiven his enormous debt by the King. But then he would not forgive his fellow-servant a small debt. When the King heard how unforgiving his servant was, he re-instated the former enormous debt, and put him in the debtor’s prison until he had paid it. He explained that God was able to forgive my sins, because Jesus had taken my sins on the cross, and suffered my penalty for my sinning. This was familiar balm to my soul. But then the reality is: God will revoke His forgiveness IF I do not forgive those who have sinned against me … this was eina painful. And Jesus’ commentary on The Lord’s Prayer says “If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you” (Matthew 6:15).

The band began playing as the words of the final song appeared on the screen:

Father here I am again
In need of mercy hurt from sin
So by the blood and Jesus’ love
Let forgiveness flow

To me from me
So my heart will know
Fully and sweetly
Let forgiveness flow

In my heart and in my mind
In word and deed I’ve been so blind
So by the blood and Jesus’ love
Let forgiveness flow

Danny Daniels © 1990 Mercy/Vineyard

The Meaning sank in
The Meaning sank in. Verse 1: I need God’s Forgiveness to flow to me. It is sourced in the blood of Jesus, given because He loves me. Then Verse 2: My Forgiveness must flow to others. It too is sourced in the blood of Jesus. There can be no other ultimate source of forgiveness in the Universe. But only as I love those who have offended me, can I transmit this Forgiveness to them. Then the chorus expresses the message so succinctly: God’s Forgiveness flows “To me”; then God’s Forgiveness must flow “From me”. Such a “full” flow of Forgiveness is soothingly “sweet” to the one who receives it.

A Song, like Poetry, should be succinct. The genius of Song-writing is the way it captures a Message in minimum words, and drives its Meaning home to the heart. The song uses 62 words to express even more than the above prose paragraph of 102 words. Minimum words express maximum meaning.

Additional impact-value is achieved by “Rhyming”: again-sin; mind-blind; know-flow.

The song grips the imagination by its use of picture-language and metaphor, and this too increases its impact-value: “hurt from sin”, “heart and mind” (feelings and thoughts) and “I’ve been so blind”. The repetition of “blood and love” emphasises the Source and the Medium of Forgiveness. Brilliant ~ there are layers of Meaning to be uncovered as we sing the song with our minds as well as our hearts.

Here is a song that superbly captured the Message of God’s Word that Sunday, and drove it forcefully home to my heart. Could it have been improved? Yes – By adding PUNCTUATION! Punctuation enhances Meaning. To ignore Punctuation sends a message that MEANING is not important. All that matters is that we mouth the words flashed on the screen. No! We must not tolerate such de-valuing of MEANING! See the difference one comma makes to the Chorus: “To me, from me”. Note how a properly punctuated re-write of the same words will enhance the Meaning of the whole song:

Father, here I am again
in need of mercy, hurt from sin.
So by the blood and Jesus’ love
let forgiveness flow.

To me, from me ~
so my heart will know.
Fully and sweetly
let forgiveness flow.

In my heart and in my mind,
in word and deed I’ve been so blind.
So by the blood and Jesus’ love
let forgiveness flow.

When I googled this Song, I discovered a Web-site that actually urged readers to search for, and describe the MEANING of this song:

Lyrics Mode invites such thoughtful examination of all its songs. It refuses mindless comments such as “I just love this song”! It prompts us to chew over the lyrics and then express the Meaning which the song-writer intended*. I like that! I urge every Worship Leaders and Music Director to search for the Meaning of each song they choose. Don’t choose a song merely for its tune or rhythm. Choose it for its Meaning. Colossians 3:16 tells us to sing to each other songs that have Bible-based Meaning, a true “Message in Song”!

* When I submitted this article to Lyrics Mode, it was rejected because “it was not written by a human”. Well, I am a real flesh-and-blood human, but perhaps the Web-site itself is moderated by non-human computers!


  1. At last, some logical evaluation of the songs we sing. God loves logic – He invented it and we are built logically. Thus we love a logical song and we can be thrilled and we can communicated ogically. Let’s have more discussion on this.

  2. Thanks, Edgar – I’d love to renew contact with you (like in the old days!)