Placed in the Graveyard of Songs

Song: "Rise Again"

 

"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you" (Matt. 28:6-7).

Dallas Holm's notoriety and fame as a contemporary Christian musician was augmented by the fact that he traveled with David Wilkerson, made famous by his best-selling book The Cross and the Switchblade. It was while with Wilkerson that Dallas formed the band he called Dallas Holm and Praise. Shortly after forming the band, he began to write songs for them to sing, and his first effort is the subject of this story. "Rise Again" still holds music charting records. When Dallas wrote this song, contemporary Christian music was not yet clearly on the horizon.

The following is his story: "After we had decided to form the band, I realized that I would need to write some new material. I knew that the music should be different from the things I was used to writing. So I got out my pen and paper and thought, I need to get busy and write some songs.' I often had a disciplined approach to songwriting and have written some of my better songs in that frame of mind. But this particular day I couldn't come up with a single idea. I drew an absolute zero.

"I began to pray, which I should have done in the first place, and in the course of my praying, I remember saying, Lord, if You were singing, what would You sing?' That thought really stuck in my mind. I didn't know if I had ever heard a song from a first-person point of view. As hokey as it may sound, I had this mental image of the Lord, dressed as we often picture Him in our minds, standing on a street corner with a guitar, singing. It was as if you could translate Jesus into modern times, with singing as His form of communication. What would He sing?

"As soon as I focused in on that approach to my task, I began to write as if I were taking dictation. I wrote the music and the words in about ten minutes-no changes. I titled it Rise Again.'

"As I finished I looked at the song and realized that this didn't come out of my head. I have often said that God wrote the song, and I just delivered the message. That describes the way I feel about that experience.

"Dallas Holm and Praise had only been together six weeks when we recorded a live' album in the Lindale High School auditorium in Lindale, Texas [the home of Paul Baloche, author of Open the Eyes of My Heart' and Above All']. It seated about 350 people. We had a mobile unit come in from Nashville to do the recording, and we spent a whopping five thousand dollars.

"Rise Again' ended up as cut four on side two, the worst place, and generally referred to as the graveyard of songs. We basically did everything wrong: live albums were not selling, we put the song in the wrong place, and we rushed into the project. We had only been together for a few short weeks. Nevertheless, somewhere someone on the radio played Rise Again,' and word spread. Dallas Holm and Praise Live! went on to be one of the first three albums to receive a Recording Industry Association of America gold-certified record.

"To me it was a great lesson. If God puts His finger on something, and if He anoints it, it doesn't make any difference if all of the right marketing plans and promotional schemes are used. We didn't know anything about that stuff. Having Christ say, Go ahead and drive the nails in My hands,' impacted the listener. It stayed on the Singing News Magazine charts for four years. As far as we know that has never happened before or since."

It is Christ's triumph over the tomb that allowed Him to keep His divine promise to those around Him when He declared, "I will rise again!"

© 2008 by Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008), from which this piece is excerpted, and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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