BETTER IN HIS PRESENCE // Song Story by Joe Wells
This song is 100% inspired by the Psalms. The psalms are full of the people of God praising and thanking Him for all His blessings. The line I had going round in my head was from Psalm 84:
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
I loved this idea that just one day in the presence of God was so much better than a thousand days anywhere else. If this is true, I want to be in the presence of God.
So I had this initial idea in my head for a song, along with the desire to write a tune that was upbeat. With this in mind, the opportunity arose to lead some worship at a Youth Alpha* weekend away. I went along to lead some music for the young people attending and in between the sessions my plan was to spend some time song writing. When I arrived, I was shown to where I was staying and on the door to my room was stuck a little note. The note read:
“Let the praises of the King rise among us.”
“Enter His courts with songs of praise”
….. don’t lose me (the Lord) in the midst of the song”
My friends who had invited me to the event had prayed for me before the weekend and shared the piece of scripture they had for me. This was a beautiful confirmation from God to continue working on an idea for a song about it being better in His presence. This inspired me to look through the Psalms and see where people entered the courts of the king with praise and thanksgiving. There are lots of examples and you can see how this made up lots of the words for the song:
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
The start of psalm 84 particularly inspired verse 2
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
After spending some time on building the song at the youth alpha weekend, I took the song I had to one of the song writings we had with a handful of us from One Hope Project, we split into smaller groups of 3 or 4 to work on some different ideas. In this group, the song developed a bit further, changing up some of the melody and honing some of the lyrics.
After the songwriting weekends, the song hit the studio, where more of the OHP team works on some of the guitar hooks, melodies and instrumentation of the song making it into the tune you hear today!
*Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation – this weekend was a youth version of that. It was held at the SPEC centre in Pinner. Big up to the SPEC team - the Westminster dioceses youth team.