'There Is A Day' - the story beyond the song

Posted by Nathan Fellingham on 9 July 2014

It was a powerful moment when There Is A Day landed on me. I was reading a book called ‘The Discipline of Grace’ by Jerry Bridges and was fascinated by what he wrote about the hope that we have as Christians for eternity; how we will be with Jesus forever and our bodies will be transformed, never to feel decay or pain or ageing again.

It’s rarely happened to me over the years that I’ve been writing songs, but this time I really did have one of those God-gave-me-this-song moments. Just as I was sitting on my bed, reading a particular page in the book, the chorus for the song began to rise up in my heart. I was so excited I smacked my fist down on my pillow, blown by the fact that as Christians we truly do have an unshakable hope in an age to come where tears of sadness will no longer fall and all will be right again. That’s where the line ‘Oh Yeah!’ came from. It was just my genuine, heartfelt response, and I reckon that it should be shouted as well as sung!

I’ve had more feedback and encouragement from this song than any other I have written, and I’m convinced that it is due to that genuine moment of response to the truth that I was reading. Somehow that same excitement translates to others as they hear and sing - something I can’t credit to anything of my own doing!

As I recall that moment it stirs me to keep asking God for times when we’re so impacted by great truths that we read or hear that we can’t help but spill out our hearts into song. I believe we need more songs that are born out of that kind of genuine encounter.

After the initial excitement, I found that I had to take this ‘gift’ of a chorus and work on it, grabbing hold of the theme and diving into the scriptures to help unpack it further. This took time and energy, but what a reward it is to find scriptures like 1 Corinthians 15 where we read of our ‘perishable bodies’ being raised ‘imperishable’. Or 2 Corinthians 4 where we’re reminded that the troubles we face now are ‘light and momentary’ compared with the ‘eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’ This process can sometimes take an uncomfortable amount of time and an uncomfortable kind of effort. We have to try multiple versions of the same line, change the order of words, and modify the melody. We have to be brave and - sometimes - we have to be brutal.

It’s certainly true that songwriting is often 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I guess those percentages vary from song to song, but we must still be committed to both. I can be tempted to neglect one or the other, sometimes getting so caught up in the ‘inspiration’ of the song that I forget to take the time to properly craft and nurture the initial idea. Then again, too much reliance on the ‘craft’ of writing powerful words and impressive melodies and we can find that we’ve stopped writing from that place of honest ‘response’. We can pen truth that reads correctly and notes that seem to flow well together - but miss the connection that allows others to be drawn in.

I don’t want to neglect either the inspiration or the perspiration as I continue on my journey of writing songs. All of us need to take time to read, to listen, to observe, to allow truth and beauty to impact us in a way that causes a heartfelt and honest response. And once we have these nuggets of gold, we don’t want to sell them short by not putting in the time and energy to make sure the rest of the song is crafted well.

The sad truth is that there is an ever-increasing pile of mediocre songs out there - many of mine are in amongst them! Let’s take the time that is needed to make our songs count. After all, they play a huge role in equipping and encouraging the hearts and minds of God’s people - His church.

So don’t settle. Keep writing. Keep being inspired and work hard.

Nathan Fellingham is part of PHATFISH.

In March 2014, PHATFISH held two historic concerts in Bournemouth, bringing the band to a close after twenty extraordinary years of ministry together. Since the mid 90's, PHATFISH have consistently written and performed songs of depth and insight about our amazing God, underpinned with excellent musicianship.

The PHATFISH Live album was recorded at those special final concerts with an enthusiastic crowd and features many of their most memorable songs and anthems, many of which are now sung in churches around the world.

Phatfish Final 

   Visit Phatfish online here, where you can also buy the CD.

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