"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms" (Psalm 95:2).
The story behind this song, told to me by Lynn Baird in an interview in the early part of 2002, took place more than twenty years ago.
Lynn was born in 1952, in Phoenix, Arizona. He says of his conversion, "My earliest experience with the Lord was when I was about six years of age. I remember becoming convicted of my need for Christ while at church. So I went forward at the close of a morning service and shared my thoughts with the pastor. Following the service he took me to his office, where he led me to a personal knowledge of Christ as my Savior. I was then baptized."
n the early 1970s, while still a teenager and playing in a band, Unity, that he formed, Lynn also opened a coffeehouse, a place for young people to come, have refreshments, and hear Christian music along with a message from the Bible. It grew to the extent that a couple of hundred attended each weekend.
The band members of Unity started a very successful Bible study with those who frequented the coffeehouse. Out of this group a church was planted called Foundation Fellowship. Lynn became one of the pastors and was in charge of the music ministry. He often wrote songs for their worship on Sunday mornings. This gave him tremendous encouragement plus an outlet for his songwriting.
The writing of Lynn's most famous song took place during the early days of his ministry. He related it thus: "In mid-1976, our family went to Oak Creek, in northern Arizona, a place where we had vacationed for years. We were staying in a mobile home in that resort area, surrounded by riverbeds and ‘washes.' One day, while there, I decided to go for a hike. While walking through those wilderness places, the Lord dropped a melody and some lyrics into my mind. As soon as I was able to do so, I found something-I don't remember what-on which to write it all down. When I got to an instrument where I could play and sing the song, I became skeptical that it would even work, so I simply filed it away.
"Perhaps a year later, I pulled my song out of the files and played it for our praise band. Their response was positive, so we prepared to sing it during a Sunday morning service. It was so well received that we continued to sing it for five to six years-until it became old to us.
"In 1986, I was attending a leadership retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona. Before the start of the first morning session, a gentleman who was to be the worship leader for the retreat said to me and a few others standing near, ‘Integrity has come out with a new praise and worship tape.' We all looked to Integrity and eagerly awaited those tapes to get more worship materials. I thought you would like to hear the tape,' he continued. He played it for us, and the first song on the tape was ‘Come into His Presence.' I excitedly said, ‘That is my song! I wonder how they got it!' All of us in that small group were just blown away. To add to my surprise, on the tape box, among the credits, the song was listed as ‘author unknown. To this day it has never been determined how they got my song, but they have since recognized me as the author."
"Come into His Presence" has extended the ministry of Lynn Baird a thousandfold. This, Lynn's only published song, is found in hymnals, in children's projects, on exercise tapes, on the Songs 4 Worship CD series, and in chorus books, just to name a few places. As I write this story, he continues to write songs for Abundant Life Community Church in Pasadena, California, where he is a pastor.
In Psalm 100, God lets us know that when we come into his presence he is pleased to have us praise him, sing to him, and be thankful to him-"Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name" (Ps. 100:2, 4).
© 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).