Storytellers: “May Your Life Be”


For the upcoming worship CD (out next Sunday), there are four originals coming out of the songwriters at North Side.  I thought it would be helpful for you to hear the story behind the song.  So, stay tuned for this “Storytellers” segment.

Today’s edition features a guest blogger, none other than the uber-talented, John Kennerly.  John wrote a song a few years ago called “May Your Life Be.”  He used it first when we did our missions emphasis series, “World Series.”  Anybody remember that?  Long time ago.

John and Angela recorded the vocals on this track.  And it sounds nice.

Anyway, the song really resonated with our church, and his words are below on the story behind the song.

This song was written in 2006, coming out of a personal experience. People sometimes talk about ‘life goals,’ and two years ago I found one—or rather, one found me.

In reflecting on my relationship with God, a single phrase kept coming to mind: “Just to know that my life is in Your hands.” Think about that for a minute. As I tried to understand exactly what the unfinished phrase meant to me, I came to a simple awareness of the fact that everything about me is kept in God’s palms. For me, it was a powerful thought. So simple, yet so profound. It was something that I had known for a long time (Anyone remember singing ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands…’ as a child?), but that truth became very real to me.

With that truth, came a realization that being in God’s hands is another way of saying that God holds me in a very intimate relationship with Himself. That’s when the ‘life goal’ hit me. The best way that I knew to embrace and honor my relationship with God was to make that relationship known to those around me. When I started dating Heather (my lovely wife) back in college, I wanted the whole world to know: I love that person, and that person loves me. We are together! Even more so, that is what my relationship with God should look like. I wanted to reach a point where my relationship with God was self-evident in what I did, said, felt, and thought.  From that, “May Your Life Be” was born.

As for the technical aspects of the song: The lyrics came very easily—almost as if they wrote themselves. The verses and chorus were set to music, and the melody was established. It wasn’t until a bit later that I added the lyrics from the familiar hymn, “Take My Life.” I was quietly singing the chorus under my breath one day when I realized that I had unknowingly moved from the lyrics of the chorus to those of “Take My Life.” I was struck by how well the words of “Take My Life” flowed (both musically and lyrically) with the melody of the “May Your Life Be” chorus. That settled it; the hymn stayed—with the chorus of “May Your Life Be” quietly continuing underneath to reinforce how the messages of the two songs are so closely intertwined.

So the ‘life goal’ that found me was a desire to reflect God through my life. To pursue a life that has God not only in it, but flowing out of it. I wrote “May Your Life Be” as a very personal, intimate response to God about how I desired (and continue to desire) for Him to be blatantly obvious in every aspect of my life. I am not fully there yet, but the song constantly reminds me of this ‘life goal’ that found me. If there are others who wish to embrace the personal message of this song, then I am happy and humbled to be able to share it.

Chord Chart – May Your Life Be – Key of Bb (3rd fret in G))

-John Kennerly