“How Long, O LORD” was written for “The Word” project to cover the time of the exile and the longing for the Messiah.
We knew that the last song of the Old Testament would have to set up the New Testament well. This song was one of the few a team composed when we took a mountain songwriting retreat for this project. Once we had the hook, it came together fairly quickly.
Here’s a snippet from back in April:
- The majority of the song’s lyrics came from Hab. 1; Ps. 88; 13; 137; Lam. 5:20. All of these passages reveal a longing for God to return to his people and make things right again.
- Since the Israelites were in captivity during this time, we wanted it to be chorded minor.
- We also wanted it to feel like a chain-gang song. We wanted it to sound like a group of prisoners linked together singing out this song in desperation. So the bass drum was to feel like a group marching. The drum breakdown at end of song was to feel like the prisoners would have been wailing and having their bodies writhed in desperation.
- The call and response nature of “how long” on the chorus was added to make it feel like the group leader was singing one thing and the rest of the prisoners were responding back in agreement.
- I love the instrumentation on this song. The banjo intro feels rustic, organic, and ethnic. The way that the band builds through the song brings such dynamic.
- Heath Wimmer and Peggy McHugh’s voices couldn’t be more different in some ways but they were perfect together for this song. Each of them have such a unique vibe to their voice, they both added so much to this song.
- This song has been one of our church’s favorites since revealing it that night. It was one of the only ones we hadn’t previewed, and the group got into it right away.
- The album doesn’t reveal this because of time, but we worked a video interlude between this song and “Fear Not” which answers the question from “How Long.” During the video, there was some vocalizations of “how long” going on in the background as the music was mounting to the incarnation of Jesus.
This song was Eli’s favorite by far. He has recored his own version of it. When the album came out, he listened to it so much, his brother and sister got tired of the song. Obie once moaned, “How long do we have to listen to ‘how long?!'” The song is back to moderation now and everyone can enjoy it again.
Chord Chart: How Long, O Lord – F
How long, O LORD, will I cry and you not hear
The prayers I’m lifting up, are they falling on deaf ears?
How long, O LORD, must we sing these songs of home
In a foreign land, where our people don’t belong
How long till you make it right, how long do I have to cry
How long will you pass us by, how long, how long
How long till we see your face, how long till this darkness fades
How long will you restrain, how long, how long, how long
How long, O LORD, will this violence still prevail
Your Law is ignored and your justice not upheld
- Let There Be (Creation)
- How We’ve Fallen (The Fall)
- No One Like Our God (Exodus)
- The Ten Commandments (Law)
- Our God Is With Us (Covenant)
- Enter His Gates (Psalms)
- Return to Me (Prophets)
- How Long O LORD (Exile)
- Fear Not (Incarnation)
- Amazed (Jesus’ Ministry)
- What a Savior (Passion Week)
- Come Holy Spirit (Pentecost)
- Day By Day (Church)
- You Alone Are God (Trinity)
- Your Word (Epistles)
- Faithful and True (Revelation)