Over Christmas, we led the song “Gloria” at North Side a few times. This song is included on the “Knowing Jesus” project and covers the incarnation part of Jesus’ life. It’s the Christmas song. Jesus came to us.
Back at our songwriting day at our house last year, Strutton, Evan, Linda, and Nancy had a small session to work on this song. They had gotten stumped on parts of the song, but they came before the larger group with a 4-part choral arrangement of simply singing the word “Gloria.” While it wasn’t long in length, I absolutely loved the beauty of it and knew that would be the foundation of the song. The main melody became the instrumental hook at the beginning and throughout the song, and it also was the bridge of the song. The final sounded very much like what was sung in my living room.
The chorus was written on the plane while I was traveling to Africa. I was reading Luke 2 and just heard this escalating line in my head: “Glory to God in the highest.” I recorded it on my phone while my traveling companions were sleeping so I wouldn’t forget it. When I returned to the States, I opened up Luke 2 again and simply began to sing. The majority of the song could be sung straight out of the ESV Bible with little variation to that text. Love it when the Word takes over. The remainder of the song was written in about 15 minutes as the Word and the music just kinda collided together.
Since the song would be a turnaround from the dramatic opener, we needed something to grab attention at the beginning.
I never thought I would find the beginning of the song sitting with my wife in the doctor’s office.
Once we found out God was blessing us with a lil’ girl, we couldn’t think of a more beautiful name than what the angels originally sang when Jesus invaded earth. We named Gloria after the first words the angels proclaimed at Jesus’ incarnation, and he saw it fit that she be born on the day he died in order to provide her life. Too fitting. As we began arranging this album, we decided to name the song “Gloria.” We didn’t name the song after my daughter. We named my daughter after the 2,000 year old song.
At one doctor’s appointment, I heard that heartbeat pounding through the fetal doppler and I got out my phone to record that glorious sound of life. I loved to listen to the sound and be reminded concerning the beauty of life already present in the womb of my wife. This time, I realized maybe we could use this.
As the song “Gloria” begins, you hear some static and then the sound of a heartbeat as we begin to sing about Jesus coming to earth as a baby. That is Gloria’s heartbeat from the doctor’s office. I imported the audio file into the computer and had to reduce the BPMs from about 141 to 130 to make it work with the song (shocked it was so close). So as the song begins celebrating Jesus’ arrival, you hear the sound of a heartbeat within the womb. The sound eventually fades out and the bass drum takes over, but it makes it’s reappearance occasionally throughout the song.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.