More Than A Song - Living Hope by Phil Wickham

Living Hope - Phil Wickham 

How great the chasm that lay between us 
How high the mountain I could not climb 
In desperation, I turned to heaven 
And spoke Your name into the night 

Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness 
Tore through the shadows of my soul 
The work is finished, the end is written 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Who could imagine so great a mercy? 
What heart could fathom such boundless grace? 
The God of ages stepped down from glory 
To wear my sin and bear my shame 

The cross has spoken, I am forgiven 
The King of kings calls me His own 
Beautiful Savior, I'm Yours forever 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free 
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me 
You have broken every chain 
There's salvation in Your name 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free 
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me 
You have broken every chain 
There's salvation in Your name 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise 
Your buried body began to breathe 
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion 
Declared the grave has no claim on me 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise 
Your buried body began to breathe 
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion 
Declared the grave has no claim on me 
Jesus, Yours is the victory, whoa! 

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free 
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me 
You have broken every chain 
There's salvation in Your name 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free 
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me 
You have broken every chain 
There's salvation in Your name 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 
Oh God, You are my living hope 

Publishing:  © Essential Music Publishing, Bethel Music Publishing 

Writers:  Phil Wickham, Brian Mark Johnson 

Well, if you haven’t heard Phil Wickham’s great anthem Living Hope, it’s time to pause things right here and take a listen.  I’ll give you a minute... 



Ready?  Ok! 

If worship is warfare and our songs can be weapons, then Living Hope is an absolute barrage of artillery, tanks, planes, and battleships.  Seriously.  I first came to knowledge of this song last summer as it was requested for Sunday worship at a church I was filling in at.  Being that I’m not leading week to week right now as a full-time worship pastor, I have been a little out of the loop in terms of what are the most “current and epic” worship tunes of the day.  Living Hope is a song many churches have added to their setlists and rightly so:  there is so much depth and truth in the lyrics that our congregants should be declaring. 

What always strikes a chord in me (no pun intended) is how a song can take the reality of the Gospel and convey its truth in a way that speaks of transformation and life change.  There’s a lot in Christian worship music today that promotes an attitude of me-first thinking.  To briefly explain, I hear several songs on radio and in church that have us as the primary focus.  It’s all about what God did for me, His love is a grand gesture on my behalf etc etc.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but at times those songs require a balance of songs that convey the ideas that lie within a work such as Living Hope. 

How great the chasm that lay between us 
How high the mountain I could not climb 
In desperation, I turned to heaven 
And spoke Your name into the night 

Living Hope begins with a scene of desperation; it depicts the place you and I were in when we were dead in our sin.  It’s a place that is real.  It’s separation.  It’s loss.  It’s in many ways hopeless…a stark contrast which is brilliantly shattered by the Living Hope.  I love that writers Wickham and Brian Johnson take us back to that place.  Worship is a place of remembrance and reminding ourselves that Christ has saved us from something truly devastating.  Something so great, it would separate us from God if we had not turned towards Christ. 
What then unfolds throughout the song is the realization of the finished work of Jesus (The work is finished, the end is written).  Descriptors are given of what constitutes this hope:  boundless grace and great mercy.  Christ steps down from His exalted place to become the lowest of the low.  He takes our place out of obedience to the Father.  Because of His sacrificial act, He is exalted (Philippians 2:9).  This sets up a brilliantly constructed and singable chorus: 

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free 
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me 
You have broken every chain 
There's salvation in Your name 
Jesus Christ, my living hope 

Hymn-like in its design, Living Hope is one of those songs that just has line after line of meat.  Of true theology and heart.  These songs and their ideas have fallen out of favor in a church culture that focuses a lot on grace but less on truth.  Yes, Living Hope does speak of grace but it packages it within the context that Jesus didn’t go to the cross for nothing.  We are the ones in sin.  He went there because of the separation; because He wanted to restore fellowship and closeness again. 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise 
Your buried body began to breathe 
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion 
Declared the grave has no claim on me 
Jesus, Yours is the victory, whoa! 

The third verse of this song is really the climax and for me, it's like declaring Easter morning all over again (and what a great addition to an Easter service!).  When hell thought that the end was in sight, that Christ was dead and buried and no more, the Roaring Lion appeared.  We, by default, share in His resurrection.  We are raised back to life as the grave has no claim on us.  What an amazing thought and an absolutely unshakable truth!  If we get this and really passionately live it, look out world! 


Guys you know music has such a strong meaning for me.  I love it in all its shapes and forms.  But I’ve come to realize that what I put into my ears is something that can either be positive or negative; depending upon the words and the truth (or lack thereof).  I know that is different from person to person and highly subjective.  But if we are looking to feed our spirits and nourish them with truth, songs like Living Hope are some of the best tools I believe we have.  If personally your tastes are different but you find something else just as deep and Biblically solid, great.  Just find it. 

In a day and age in which truth is constantly being stretched and manipulated to fit the situation of the moment, I am thankful for declarations such as Living Hope.  This song truly becomes more than a song by its inherent message.  You either accept it as truth or you reject it.  There’s no middle ground.  But I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who went to the cross even when I was still dead in my sin. 
I love you guys!  Get this one into your playlist!

Email:  info@derekcharlesjohnson.com 

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Other "More Than A Song" blogs: 

Leaning In by Carrollton
I Wanna Go Back by David Dunn
Endless Alleluia by Cory Asbury
Confidence by Sanctus Real
O Come All Ye Faithful (Christmas Edition)

 

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