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Entries in come and make us free (5)


Behind the Song, "It Is Finished"

Like many of you, I'm a lover of good songs. One of the things that I'm always intrigued by is what went into th writing of a song. It's like reverse get to learn about its construction after having the finished product in your hands. For Coral Ridge Music, "It is Finished" is a flagship song. We worked hard on it. Go and read about the theology, allusions, and inspiration that caused this song to be over at LIBERATE.

chord chart | lead sheet

"It is Finished" is a song for the tired and weary. It is a song for folks who have crashed and burned or who are coming to the realization that they are at the end of themselves. It's a song about the gospel...raw, unadulterated, relentless, sin-tackling grace. It's a song for everyone. Check it out.


Behind the Music Over at LIBERATE

Since the album release of Come and Make Us Free a few weeks ago, we've been sharing the behind the scenes details about the crafting of each song--the theology, the experience, the process. This week's song is one that I've already done some writing on, and I invite you over to LIBERATE to read the summary of why we wrote "Christ Surrendered All."  It was one of the standout favorites at LIBERATE 2015.


A Great Invocation to Kick off Good Friday...or any Service

For our Good Friday service at Coral Ridge this year, we will begin the evening with an Invocation for piano, strings, and voices (though it really could be reset in a bunch of different ways, from choir and organ to folk). It's called "Come Witness This Gospel to Me," off our new album, Come and Make Us Free. Personally, it's my favorite on the album and probably took the most out of me to write, which is saying a lot, given how emotionally charged the album is.

The truth is that this isn't just a Good Friday text. It's an Invocation for any service of the year. After all, worship is nothing more and nothing less than God's divine service to us, where the Father showcases the glory of the Son through the witness of the Spirit.

Below is the text, but if you want a peek behind the curtain to see what I was thinking theologically and experientially when I wrote it, check out the article just published on LIBERATE: "He Saw the Whole Bloody Thing Go Down."

One little note about the recording: I love the way the strings always sag on the underside of the pitch. It makes the song feel more heavy and grievous. It's like they're both the mourning of the Spirit and our straining to believe.

Happy Remembrancing.

Come Witness This Gospel to Me

chord chart | lead sheet | piano music


1. O Holy Spirit, O One who was there
To witness the anger that God didn't spare
To witness a verdict both just and unfair
O Holy Spirit, O One who was there 

2. You saw on His face all the judgment of hell
My story of shame that I cannot untell
How heavy my burden of blame when it fell!
You saw on His face all the judgment of hell 

Come witness this gospel to me
Remembrancer, this is my plea:
Preach Christ till He's all that I see
Come witness this gospel to me 

3. You saw in His dying the death of my sin
The Son's bleeding body, I'm hidden therein
Where all of my poison He drank deep within
You saw in His dying the death of my sin 

4. You're preaching a grace that is forever free
There's no condemnation, no wrath left for me
I hear "It is finished" from Calvary's tree
You're preaching a grace that is forever free 

Now witness this gospel to me
Remembrancer, cause me to see
That Christ is my one victory
Now witness this gospel to me 

You witness this gospel to me
Forgiveness eternally free
And always Your child I will be
You witness this gospel to me 

O Spirit, the truth I now see
You witness this gospel to me

Words & Music: Zac Hicks, 2014
©2014 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)

Come and Make Us Free EP - RELEASES TODAY

Cages. We’re well pedigreed engineers of them. We construct them, we think, for comfort. We believe they will save us, either by protecting us from the cruel blows of the world or by protecting the world from us. They keep the world in check, or they keep us in check. Either way, they are wrought-ironed evidence of humanity’s slavery to self-salvation, self-justification. Riffing on Calvin: the human heart is a cage factory, skillfully engineering ten thousand self-made prisons.

Come and Make Us Free is our latest five-track EP exploring our cage-making obsession, entertaining every theme that sits between its diagnosis and deliverance. To get right to the point, the album is about the slavery of sin and the freedom of the gospel. It plays like a mini worship service:

Invocation: “Come Witness this Gospel to Me”

Confession of Sin: “Come and Make Us Free”

Confession of a Savior: “Christ Surrendered All”

Assurance of Salvation: “It is Finished”

Summary & Praise: “Gospel Doxology”

A New Path in Songwriting 

Those who have followed my recording journey over the last five years will note (no surprise) that I love hymns. I’ve spent the bulk of my energies recasting those old gems in new settings. Come and Make Us Free is my first album where all the texts are original (except for the third verse of the doxology). As I said to a friend recently, “It feels like I’ve been now bathing in hymns long enough that I can begin stepping out of the water with the confidence that I’ll honor the heritage.”

Therefore, you’ll hear some songs that are very hymn-like. They’ve got older, poetic language and odd words like “Remembrancer” (thanks, Charles Wesley, for that theologically loaded descriptor of the Holy Spirit). Other songs, though, are a move toward deeper enculturation—pop melodies and more immediately accessible lyrics (“It is Finished”). In any regard, a heavier hand at lyric-writing is probably a sign of where I am headed, though I will never quite be able to let go of hymns (or, probably more accurately, they won’t let go of me).

Probably the principal reason I’m able to step away from the lyrical safety net of hymnody is because I have a great songwriting partner in my co-leader at Coral Ridge, Julie Anne Vargas. She has given the album a lyrical and musical focus and tightness, which have made all our songs sharper. In the craft of putting a song together, she’s the better technician.

I Believe in Every Song

There’s no track on this one that I consider filler. Not every song will fit every context, but I think there’s something for everyone. We taught four out of the five songs to our LIBERATE 2015 attendees last week, and they were all picked up quickly and sung passionately. That gave me great confidence in their integrity.

I also think the production on this album is more consistent than previous albums of mine, largely because of the help of one of South Florida’s best musicians, Matt Calderin, whose own show-stopping bluesy funky rock everyone should check out.

The first track, “Come Witness This Gospel to Me,” is a classically influenced poem that gets at the heart of what I think true “charismatic” worship really is. The middle three tracks are pop-rock worship songs all built on drums, bass, and Rhodes. The final track, “Gospel Doxology,” is a short anthem weaving pipe organ and strings into a big rock ending. In the weeks to come, I will post song stories and descriptions that delve into the music and theology of each track.

For now, please enjoy the album, and tell your friends about it! Gift the album to people you know who are weary of the do-more-try-harder “Christianity” that leaves us all caged and exhausted. Point them to the finished work of Jesus!


Buy the Album

Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon 

Full Songbook

Lyrics, Charts and More

"Come Witness This Gospel to Me" lyrics | chord chart | lead sheet | piano

"Come and Make Us Free" lyrics | chord chart | lead sheet

"Christ Surrendered All" lyrics | chord chart

"It is Finished" lyrics | chord chart | lead sheet

"Gospel Doxology" lyrics | chord chart | lead sheet


The Songs of LIBERATE 2015

We'll be singing a LOT at LIBERATE 2015, which starts tomorrow here in sunny, warm Ft. Lauderdale. We're expecting to gather over 2000 people from every state and over twenty countries. In addition to leading a worship workshop tomorrow, my great joy will be to lead music. We're singing a bunch of gospel-saturated songs, including several from our new EP, Come and Make Us Free, which releases tomorrow at the Conference and Tuesday everywhere else. 

Hop on over to LIBERATE to find the complete setlists and lots of resources for all the songs we'll sing. One of the fun things we're doing is rounding out every time with our "Gospel Doxology." It's a nice summary of what LIBERATE is all about.