Serina Perera

The Stories Behind The Songs Of “My Beloved”

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City Harvest Church launches its latest live album, My Beloved, this weekend at the church’s Christmas services (Dec 23 and 24, 2017). City News speaks to the songwriters about their inspiration in this track-by-track look at the album.

The Stories Behind The Songs Of “My Beloved”

At the start of 2017, the leadership of CHC received a prophecy that the church would become a people of unusual worship. Throughout this year, members of the church have been writing and submitting songs of praise and worship to the CityWorship team, and the church has been singing these songs during its weekend services. Emails and queries started pouring in as churchgoers wanted to know where they could download these songs for own personal quiet time.

Despite this year being an eventful and busy one for the church, CityWorship, along with the church’s executive pastor Sun Ho, decided to be true and faithful to the Word of God spoken over the church and produce a live album of these 11 songs of faith and unusual worship.

 

“Yes” by Maximilian Low

How the song came about
“This song is inspired by 2 Cor 1:20 (NLT), that tells us that “all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’” Because of this, we can and ought to lift up our ‘Yes!’ towards God to glorify Him,” Low explains.

What is the essential message of this song?
“This song acknowledges our promise-keeping God. God is faithful and His Word stands forever. Our part is to simply to believe Him and glorify His name.”

Fun Fact: Part of this song came about after an all-night binge on Coldplay’s live concerts. Coldplay fans should be able to recognize which part.

 

“My Beloved” by Sun Ho, Mark Kwan & Caroline Tjen

How the song came about
Mark Kwan says, “The song was inspired by Sun’s sermon last year, “Father, Reveal Who You Are”. She shared that ‘the essence of Christianity is having first-hand, intimate personal revelation of God as our Heavenly Father because we are His beloved.’ That message and the powerful presence of God that accompanied it took me on a journey of spiritual reflection, getting me to take stock of what I understood about my personal walk with God, the work that Jesus has already done for my life, and the reality of the Holy Spirit in my daily existence.

“I worked on the song with Sun and Caroline, and as we went through the process of tweaking the lyrics and melody, we sang it again and again and each time without fail, it just drew us into the presence of God. That’s how we knew we had to release it. Amazingly, and serendipitously, our church’s anniversary this year was themed ‘Come Away’, based on the Song of Songs, which was a perfect tie-in with ‘My Beloved’ as well. That’s how it all fell into place!”

What is the essential message of this song?
“When we wrote the verse, the aim was to convey the deep, deep passion for God that the Holy Spirit inspires in all of us. When we are touched by the Holy Spirit, we are drawn to our Father. We long for Him. We crave for more of His presence, His touch and His voice in our lives. We wanted to express that desire in the verse, and also the inner plea for God to do whatever it takes to ‘get to me’. It is a child’s plea for his father to demonstrate his love openly and without measure.”

Fun Fact: “The chorus had to be simple and easy to remember melodically as well as lyrically. So I based its premise off a Sunday School song I used to sing when I was much younger: ‘My Beloved is mine and I am His, His banner over me is love.’”

 

“Glory To Glory” by Pamela Choo

How the song came about
“It has always been my desire to write a song of worship that we could sing in church,” Pamela Choo explains. “One night when I was doing my quiet time, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart, to write a song that would remind God’s people that we are a chosen generation and anointed by God. God showed me the verse in Luke 4:18 that says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me … to proclaim liberty to the captives … to set at liberty those who are oppressed;’ and I wrote the song according to the verse.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“I pray that ‘Glory To Glory’ will cause the faith of believers to rise in any situation they are going through; that they may know the power of God is upon them to break every chain that is binding them. As children of God, may we grow from strength to strength and from glory to glory!”

Fun Fact: “The melody and lyrics of this song came to me when I was asleep! I remember dreaming of it and waking up suddenly. It was 1.30am, in the middle of the night, and it felt so surreal. I took my phone out and recorded the entire chorus.”

 

“Saturate” by Teo Poh Heng and Mark Kwan

How the song came about
Teo Poh Heng says, “‘Saturate’ was written when I was worshipping God at home one day. I had been wanting to write a song surrounding the Holy Spirit for some time now.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“I relate it to Moses’ ‘burning bush’ encounter with God. Out of all that he could have asked for, Moses cried out to God, ‘Show me Your glory! God, I want more of you; nothing else matters.’ That’s the cry of this song too.”

Fun Fact: “It took me two weeks to complete the song. It’s not easy to write about the Holy Spirit if you don’t have a relationship with Him. Writing this song has drawn me closer to Him.”

 

“Jesus I Live To Sing” by Yong Te-Chong, Mark Kwan and Caroline Tjen

How the song came about
“‘Jesus I Live To Sing’ was the result of five to six months of personal turmoil and struggles in 2016,” reveals Yong Te-Chong. “It actually got to a point of extreme helplessness. During one of my morning walks and devotion, I ran out of words to pray. I could only hold on to the verses from Psalm 139: 7-12. I started humming a tune and singing out these verses.

‘Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.’

What is the essential message of this song?
“The message to be conveyed here is to never depart from His presence in spite of the never-ending troubles, frustration and haplessness that one may face. Only in His presence can we find strength to get up and keep walking and keep serving, no matter what. It is very easy and justifiable to complain and walk out on those we love and who love us, but our foundation is not in people nor things—our foundation is God. Loving God is staying true to Him, staying committed to what He asks of you, staying connected and faithful to Him.”

Fun Fact: “This song came to me during my morning walk, which I do daily at 6am. In the cool darkness, I felt the serene presence of God.”

 

“Live For Your Glory” by Dianne Rivas

How the song came about
Dianne Rivas says, “In 2014, the church organized the Higher Conference and I was relatively new to CHC then. I kept hearing about it and seeing the promotional video on it, and every time the word “Higher” was mentioned, I would think, “Jesus take me higher.”

“During my quiet time one night, as I was playing the keyboards and worshipping God, the very words came out of my mouth: ‘Deep calls to deep, I hear Your voice, drawing me to Your endless love’. I finished that song that same night.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“We are all created for a purpose. The world is always giving us many definitions of identity and purpose that won’t really fill in that void in our hearts. definitions of what success is, of what is good and what is not, what is acceptable and what isn’t.

“But Jesus has so much more to offer. His perfect love, peace, forgiveness, assurance, freedom is far more than we can ever think or imagine. Our lives will only be made whole and complete in and through Christ. So, in response to that, we need to live for His glory all the days of our lives.”

Fun Fact: “I was torn as to whether to name the song ‘Higher’ or ‘Live For Your Glory’. I chose the latter in the end.”

 

“Pure As Gold” Candace Lee Seow Ting

How the song came about …
“I wrote this song during the season when Pastor Kong [Hee] was sharing about the anointing of the Holy Spirit,” recalls Candace Lee. “Deep down in my heart, I yearned for a deeper encounter with the Holy Spirit, as well as for others to also experience a touch from the Holy Spirit.

“I went back home and did my quiet time, which was when I got a vague melody of the chorus. I felt God impressed upon my heart to finish the song. I had the assurance that if I sang this during my cell group meeting, He would move.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“I pray that every believer who worships God with this song will experience the touch of the Holy Spirit in a special way. This song carries the deepest desire to encounter the Holy Spirit, and it expresses total surrender towards God. It carries a yearning for God to change and purify us, to be more like Him. Through an encounter with the Holy Spirit, our hearts can and will be purified as gold.

“It also speaks of faith and assurance, that come what may, the good or the bad, even as we are put through fire, as long as we hold onto God and stay close to Him, we will come forth as gold.”

Fun Fact: There is a line in the song that goes, “No where to find a love so true”. Technically, this means that true love cannot be found anywhere, or there is no such thing as true love. However, it is totally implied in the song that there’s nowhere to find true love except in Jesus. In Christ, we have true, unconditional and complete love.

The Stories Behind The Songs Of “My Beloved”

“Heart Beat” by Mark Kwan

How the song came about …
“I started writing this song in February 2016,” says Kwan. “It came from just wanting to write a song about my heart beating in tandem with God’s heart. That’s something that has always inspired me in my songwriting—to be in alignment with the heart of God.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“Though I wrote the chorus of the song first, the “meat” of the song is actually found in the other sections, i.e. the verse, pre-chorus and bridge. The substance of the song is based on the following verses:

Psalm 119: This Psalm speaks all about our heart towards God and how honoring His word in our lives keeps us from sin (which is death). That’s where the line ‘Your Word in me keeps my heart alive’ comes from. The Psalm also says ‘I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.’ The best gift we can give God is our obedience towards Him. That’s where the line ‘Your pleasure is my delight’ was inspired from.

Revelation 4: I scribbled a note down one day when I was reading the book of Revelation, because the imagery was just so powerful to me. Verses 10 and 11 say: ‘[T]he twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’ That just blew my mind! It also inspired me of how we ought to live each day: casting our crowns (the things that are precious to us, that may bring glory or self-worth to us) before Him; throwing them aside because they pale in comparison to Him because He is the only One who deserves glory and honor, and He is the one reason why we exist! Wow… And that’s where the pre-chorus originates from:

I surrender my all
Just to know You
I cast down my crowns
Just to love You

Surrender and obedience are not easy… But the reward of knowing Him and loving Him far outweighs the costs.

Fun Fact: “The song that began in my head and that I first recorded in my phone was very very different from the final version that we now sing! It actually began as a rock-inspired praise song. Somehow along the way, as I did my research and listened to different songs to inspire myself in my songwriting process, I tweaked it and got it arranged as an EDM track instead. But listening to the first recording of it really cracks me up now. It’s pretty hilarious…”

 

“Praise Your Name Forever” by Jessel Yam, Bernard Loh, Mervyn Lim, Schumann Tong and Alan Chan

How the song came about …
Mervyn Lim remembers, “It started with a revelation from Matthew 14:29-32, where Peter was walking on water with Jesus. And when he started to sink in, Jesus reached in and pulled him out. That very image of Jesus’ hand reaching into the water was the inspiration for the lyrics ‘In the flood, I shout your name, you reached for me, now I walk again.’ From there, we just built the song as a team.

What is the essential message of this song?
“The believer’s life is not always a bed of roses. We may start of full of aspirations and ideals, but every now and then, we hit our dark moments in life. When that happens, what we need to do is to keep calling out to Jesus, and He will never be too far away from us. Just like the story of Peter, when we find ourselves sinking, just know that Jesus is always there watching over you! And for that, we should really live our lives to serve and praise Him.”

Fun Fact: How did this song end up having five songwriters? “The five of us all sit next to each other in the office. One day, Jessel just took a guitar and said ‘Come, let’s try to write a song.’ So we gathered, threw out some ideas and one hour later, the song was done!”

 

“I Am Yours” by Caroline Tjen and Mark Kwan

How the song came about …
Caroline Tjen says, “The song started with Mark writing the verse when he received inspiration from one of his missions overseas. God revealed to him that wherever he goes, there His presence will be. Mark then invited me to collaborate and complete the song with these Bible verses in mind:

‘Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)

‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ (Psalm 46:10)

‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1:9)

What is the essential message of this song?
“As the church worships God with this song, may we have the assurance that God’s presence will be with us wherever we are; that we don’t need to be afraid because His perfect love will cover us and keep reaching out to us. We are not alone; we belong to Him and so we can be strong because we know and we declare: ‘I am Yours.’”

Fun Fact: This song has a second chorus that was only sung once in service. The chorus is sung from God’s perspective. This second chorus is sung from the believer’s perspective.

 

“Rise Again” by Caroline Tjen and Mark Kwan

How the song came about 
“This is a powerful faith statement of CHC that was written for our church’s 27th Anniversary in 2016,” Tjen says. “Mark had a vision to capture the spirit of tenacity as a church family and our faith journey against the odds. We collaborated on the lyrics, melodies, direction, harmony progression and overall feel.”

What is the essential message of this song?
“Since 2010 (when the case against the church’s leaders began), life in CHC has not been the same. But we’ve learned what it means to be determined, to persevere and not give up. We pray that this song will empower believers to rise above failure and defeat. Our strength comes from God, and we are not alone, we are among family; together, stronger.”

Fun Fact: A 30-strong choir made up of CHC’s choir members and back-up vocalists were roped in to record the backing tracks. They stood for many hours recording and their voices sound like a mighty army.

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