Creative Arts, Devotional

Songs of My Journey: A Graphic Design Essay – Pt 1

November 29, 2015
Stephen Hart

If you’ve been following the past few blogs that I’ve written, you’ll have gotten to know me a little bit. I’ve photographed three photo essays since July this year, and it’s my prayer that you’ve connected with these images and the stories I’ve shared.

This month, I’ve decided to take you on a slightly different journey. This essay is a typographic/design essay. I’ve taken worship songs, designed a typographic response, and shared how they’ve impacted my life.

I pray as always that these are a blessing and inspiration to you and your walk with God.

You Are Faithful

You are Faithful.

I remember, back in New Zealand, sitting at my computer, spending days on end applying for jobs. I’d just graduated from college with my degree in graphic design and had big dreams– I wanted to change the world. One evening, my mother came in to sit with me after a particularly disappointing day of receiving rejection emails from nearly every design firm I applied to. My mom began to pray and intercede for me. Through my tears and heartbreak, listening to this song on repeat, I sat with my mom and praised God for His faithfulness– even when I couldn’t see it.

Miriam Webster’s comforting lyrics and melody wrapped around me and it felt as if in that moment Jesus was holding me, whispering, “I am faithful; always I am with you.” Whatever you may be facing in life, you can take heart that Jesus is holding you.

He knows our every moment, our sleeping, our waking. All of your tears and heartache are seen by Him– He ordains our every step and nothing takes Him by surprise.

“Lord of all the earth how You care for me. You have made me, You will save and carry me always. You are faithful, Your joy is my strength.”

You Remain

You Remain.

This song was written by Nick Kraenzlin, a worship leader from my home church in New Zealand. Looking back, this song has always been an incredibly profound statement that I’ve sung over my life through different seasons. Until joining Bethel Music and moving to the US, my life had been tinged with sadness. I had a lot of shame, hopelessness, and identity issues that kept me from fully experiencing the joy of the Lord.

What I love most about this song, however, is its prophetic edge. This song was written in 2007 and recorded and released in 2010, just before the devastating Christchurch earthquakes in early 2011. The Lord has used this song to become an anthem of faith and hope for our nation.

You might be harboring something from God and feeling like it’s not being “used” yet, but the Lord’s timing is always perfect. So stand on these eternal truths!

“Jesus You’ve carried me this far, I’ll hold on to this hope inside my heart. When all else fades, You remain. When the earth beneath me shakes, it’s only by Your hand that I am safe. When all else fades, Jesus You remain.”

So Glad

So Glad.

You know those moments in life when you have to make a decision to either praise and adore, or give in to selfish desires and temptations? I find myself in this situation all the time, and with all my heart, I try and make sure that I commit to praising and adoring my Jesus, gaining strength to resist the enemy through Him and His victory. This song was written by Chris de Jong from Parachute Music. It was written after it dawned on her in a fresh way through her mum’s death, that God was her “phew” moment of relief. A “so-glad-that-you’re-there-for-me-because-I-can’t-make-it-on-my-own,” kind of moment.

How beautiful God is! He shows up in our hard times, and exchanges our sadness and tears for a garment of praise.

This song’s lyrics and it’s fast-paced, foot-stomping melody have helped me numerous times to dance upon my fears, take up the sword of the Spirit and advance against the enemy in victory! 

“So glad to call You father, so glad to call You friend, so glad I can rely on, so glad I can depend on You. You’re my protector, my only shelter. You are my tower and strength. You’re my provider, my carer, my minder. You are my one to the end. You’re my redeemer, my saviour, my teacher. You’re my creator and friend. You’re my reviver, my constant reminder. You are my one to the end.”

Shout to the Lord

Shout to the Lord.

This is probably one of the most famous songs of worship, and I feel that for most of you, it needs little introduction. You may have heard this song a million and one times, and it’s hard to see past the “90s christian-ness,” but let me introduce you to the story behind the song.

“Shout to the Lord” was written by Darlene Zschech in the early ‘90s during a particularly hard time in her life– she was a mother of two babies, her and her husband’s business wasn’t doing well and they were faced with a tax bill that threatened to take them out. In one of life’s “God-I-can’t-do-this-anymore” moments, Darlene sat at her old out-of-tune piano and opened her Bible to the Psalms and just worshiped Jesus. Choosing to focus on Him and not the chaos surrounding her, she found her spirit singing “My Jesus, my saviour, Lord there is none like You…”

Just as Holy Spirit birthed a beautiful song of worship to Darlene in a time of trial, He will surely birth a precious gift within you too. Sometimes we are too eager in life to get out of our troubles, to pray away the pain– when oftentimes the Lord is looking for our continued, steadfast faithfulness, proving to Him that we are desperate for His calling and His anointing to fall afresh on us.

Whether you’re in a season of lack or abundance, choose today to shout to the Lord. Sing for joy at the work of His hands, tell of His wonder, His majesty and watch the mountains bow down at the sound of His name!

Your Love Never Fails

One Thing Remains.

I guess you could say this song is Bethel’s most famous worship song– it’s certainly how I was introduced to the worship of this wonderful house. I remember being in church the first time we sang it back in 2011. I was newly introduced to the “Be Lifted High” album from Bethel Music, and “One Thing Remains” was the stand-out song on that project.

Those lyrics of “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me,” have walked me through many different seasons. From times of temptation where I’m looking for any promise of God to hold me, to the seasons of abundance where I have danced in my bedroom, with my headphones blasting that chorus, rejoicing that His love never runs out on me. This song’s lyrics overtake my soul, filling me up and renewing my strength.

It’s such a powerful statement of truth and companionship. Jesus is our everlasting God, but He’s also closer than a brother. He’s walked the same road that we face, being subjected to trials and temptation, enduring rejection and loneliness. But He was faithful; His heart and eyes ever fixed on the Father’s business. I urge you to be ever faithful to the Lord. Take His calling seriously, don’t lean on your own understanding, look to the Lord, feel the strength of His love and you will be victorious on whatever path He’s chosen for you.

Here In The Quiet Place

Here In The Quiet Place.

This song is up there with “Shout to the Lord” as my favorite worship song, ever. It’s not a famous song, but rather a simple song, a prayerful heart crying out to Jesus– a tremendous blessing to me. This song was written in 1990, amidst another difficult situation. I’ve asked the songwriter, Merylene Osborne, to share the song story, it’s beautiful, powerful, and I know it will bless you.

“When my youngest daughter, Amy, was born on October 25th, 1990, there were many complications and she wasn‘t expected to live. She went to surgery at 10 hours old and was diagnosed within the first few weeks as having Cystic Fibrosis. Our world had been thrown into absolute chaos of the worst kind as we watched helplessly as our baby fought for her life.

I came home from the hospital one day feeling lost and exhausted. As has become my habit, I went to my piano to worship, this song “Here in the Quiet Place” flowed from my heart. I wrote this song from my baby’s perspective. I found absolute peace in the knowledge that my Heavenly Father loved her even more than I did and that, whatever the outcome, she was safe in the palm of His Hand.

Almost 21 years later, Amy underwent a lung transplant. Initially it all looked incredibly positive, but after developing severe rejection, Amy passed away on 8th September 2011. A few days before she died she looked at me with her big blue eyes and asked me to sing her song…this song…at her funeral. On that day, I stood and sang the same way I had on the day God first gave me this song for my baby…with deep gratitude for His incredible faithfulness…in Amy’s life and now in mine too.”