In June 2017, Illumine held its first annual Songwriting Weekend where several songwriters came to Illumine with a single goal: to start and finish writing a song that can be used by congregations for worship. Each Thursday, we will be featuring one of the songs that was composed that weekend.
Why (did you write) this song?
“I had two basic goals going into songwriting weekend. 1) I wanted to write a song about Jesus, and 2) I wanted to write a song that was pretty obviously drawn from scripture. I decided to write on what I believe may be the most powerful way that God describes himself and his love for us.
One of the most beautiful ways that God expresses his love to us is to show us that Jesus is our substitute. It's crazy to think that an unfathomably great, infinite, powerful God would become like me so that I would become like him--that he would be mistreated and hated so that I could be loved. There are lots of great songs already written about Jesus, but I wanted one that would specifically focus on Jesus in my place.” -Caleb Schmiege
The thing that has always stood out to me about Caleb’s lyrics are their clarity. Caleb is able to take a big term like “Vicarious Atonement” and express it in a way that is catchy, poetic, and easy enough for a child to understand. This is no small feat.
In the second verse, he even uses the picture of a scapegoat and makes it clear how this Old Testament ritual was a picture of what Christ would do for us on the cross.
Use in Worship
I had the opportunity to, along with Caleb and others, lead over 300 children in worship at Camp South this past summer. We used this song as it matched one of the lessons particularly well. The children were not given music to look at (only words projected on a screen), they had to learn it by ear, but they picked it up very quickly. I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty easy to learn.
The melody lends itself to a variety of settings. At Camp, we played an upbeat version to celebrate what Christ has already done for us and to rejoice in the righteousness that he gives us. However, you could easily slow it down and play a more somber version (like in the video below) in a Lenten or Good Friday service.