"I Was Floored, Right There in the Grass"

Song: "Holy Is the Lord"


Originally published in Pulpit Helps, April 2008.

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isa. 6:3).

It is estimated by Belinda Luscumbe in Time Magazine, November, 2006, that during present times more people are regularly singing songs written by Chris Tomlin than any other songwriter in the world.

Louie Giglio, founder and director of the Passion Conferences for college-age young people, was also instrumental in the birthing of the worship song which is the subject of this story. While flying from Waco to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1997, the Lord spoke to Giglio's heart about starting this national ministry to students. Thousands of young people flock to these meetings. Chris Tomlin is one of the major worship leaders.

In an interview in 2005, Chris told me the following story about the writing of "Holy Is the Lord": "I was reading Isaiah chapter six in my home during a devotional time. As I read in verse three, Holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory,' I picked up my guitar and began to sing those words. Those lines and the melody that came to me were all that I had.

"Sometime later-the year was 2003-I was preparing to lead worship at a Passion Conference which was to be held on a large ranch outside of Dallas, Texas. I sensed that God was putting this song, though incomplete, on my heart for this particular meeting. They were expecting between twenty and thirty thousand people for that conference.

"Louie Giglio, whom I sometimes write songs with, and I had gotten together for a weekend. I said, Louie, I have this song, "Holy Is the Lord," and I feel that it is for the upcoming Passion Conference.' He was in the throes of planning for the meetings. After I sang the chorus for him he began to give me a number of ideas that were in his heart. Among other things, he helped me with the phrase, It's rising up all around. It's the anthem of the Lord's renown.'

"I took his suggestions and ran with them. Although I was having some questions in my mind, I basically felt that this song was from the Lord and should be used for the meetings. I had never played it completely through, at that time, and I really didn't know if it was a good song.

"I arrived at the Passion Conference and found that I was to follow a preacher named John Piper, a gifted communicator and writer. I was to lead worship following his message. While he was on the stage speaking, I was behind the platform on my knees in the grass. I was praying, Lord, I want to lead these people in the right way, with the right songs. You just show me what to do.'

"John Piper walked onto the stage, took the microphone in his hand, and said, Students, God has put a message for you on my heart. It is from Isaiah chapter six: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.' That floored me, right there in the grass. I thought, God put a song in my heart two months ago. He knows I will follow John Piper and He puts the same message on both our hearts. At that moment it was confirmed in my heart that I was to use that song. We played it for that day, but it is a song for all days. It seems to be a repeating anthem of heaven."

I am convinced that when you and I see God, through His Word, in all of His holiness-as Isaiah saw Him-then we, too, will say, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

© 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) and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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