On Sunday, we sang a song entitled “Friend of Sinners” that, based upon our worshipers, is becoming one of North Side’s favorites. The song is included on the “Knowing Jesus” project and was written to summarize the relationship between Jesus and sinners (it originally was next to “Woe to You” to show the vast gap between Jesus’ relationship with sinners and the most religious of the day).
If you can tell by the picture above, this song was written differently than most songs I write. If you ever see my handwriting, you must know that there wasn’t an electronic medium to use – I can barely read my handwriting! If you can read the top right, you have a clue to where I wrote this.
I wrote the majority of this song when I was on a flight from Atlanta to Paris. This July, I was on my way to West Africa for a mission trip and had a few hours on my hand. They had blacked out the plane and most people were asleep. I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to get some work done. We knew we wanted a song with this theme, and the band had thrown out a lot of good ideas, but nothing had come together completely yet. I started cleaning up old voice memos on my phone and I heard one of me humming this melody back in October of 2010.
These were the words: “de de de da, oh so glorious…de de de dah, so marvelous…de de de dah and victorious…hmm, hmm, hmm, something like that.” As I heard this almost 2-year old voice memo, things started clicking in the matter of moments. I pulled out a piano app on my phone and started writing some lyrics. The chorus and 1st verse came out in about 3 minutes. Since everyone was asleep on the humming plane, I actually quietly recorded me singing it on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it.
When I got back from Africa, I tried it out on the band. They were all very supportive of the idea. Angela actually wrote about 5 different verse options for other parts of the song. I used some of her great material and combined some other ideas to finish up the song. The 1st verse and 2nd verse of some symmetry between them concerning people knowing of our sinful condition. If you listen to the verses, you can imagine certain individuals that Jesus befriended singing it, or it might just be your song as well (it is mine!).
Angela not only did some of the writing, but her voice was suited perfectly for the song. Adding the key change and neat harmony parts through it, the song has quickly become a special song for our congregation. The time spent on the plane was so much better than my other option at the time – watching Journey 2: The Mysterious Island movie.
Get chord charts for entire album here.
Listen to a snippet below or get your copy on iTunes.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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