John Mark McMillan posted a still from a music video outtake on his Facebook fan page.

If you consider yourself in the popular Christian community, you’ve heard “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band (DCB).

I’ve blogged about them before for their creativity in using a LITE-BRITE and stop-motion in their newest music video for “SMS (Shine),” also mentioning previous work and its creative merits.

So it’s only natural that they would record this song, with deep-rooted metaphors and highly-biblical meanings. It’s a hit in Christian radio circles, peaking at #8 in Christian Songs according to Billboard.com (the song page was giving error messages at the time of posting).

If you’re outside of the mainstream Christian music scene, or don’t consider yourself a Jesus-follower at all, you’ve probably not heard the song that causes some controversy over it’s use of metaphors and lyrics.

This single blog post rails the songs lyrics, saying “…I had believed this song [“A Beautiful Glow” by Rock ‘N Roll Worship Circus] could never be topped due to its utterly befuddling lyrics. However, today in chapel, I heard a competitor for this title. Without further ado, behold: How He Loves Us.” (To put the debate in perspective, the first post about “A Beautiful Glow” had one semi-sarcastic comment supporting the blogger, and the second about “How He Loves” has over 96 comments as of posting).

Whether you are in or out of this “loop,” you probably don’t know that “How He Loves” is not written or originally performed by DCB.

The story behind the lyrics is given in great detail in the video posted at the top. The author of the song is a relative unknown in any music circle: John Mark McMillan.

McMillan has just under 20,000 fans on his Facebook page, compared to David Crowder Band’s nearly 400,000 fans. McMillan is quite a talented writer and musician, despite the relative anonymity.

So DCB’s recording is just a cover, albeit not a straight cover of McMillan’s original. DCB felt that to serve his audience, he needed to change a single line in the song–“sloppy wet kiss”–to a more general and widely-acceptable “unforeseen kiss.”

McMillan and DCB received a lot of passionate responses from their respective fans about the change to the original lyrics, and McMillan wrote in his blog, “I applaud David for changing the line to serve his people, and at the same time I boo the machinery that would cause him to have to do so.” McMillan also wrote,

The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

I initially planned to write a blog that analyzed the lyrics of the song, which are really well written, articulate, moving and descriptive if you study each line and meaning, but these stories behind the lyrics really gave an interesting view into the critical Christian culture as well as the emotional story of how McMillan came to put these words on paper. There are other blogs about the lyrics–like this one–or you can Google it and get plenty of results. The lyrics will be posted at the bottom along with DCB’s music video for the song.

There’s also another chapter to the story behind the lyrics of “How He Loves,” as McMillan describes in the mini-documentary at the top. It is well worth a viewing and a longer version is included, as well as two music videos, if you buy his newest CD, The Medicine, on iTunes for $7.99.

The documentary tells the story of how he was inspired to write the lyrics to the song from hearing about the death of one of his best friends–a truly painful experience.

McMillan did note in his blog post how DCB has been unusually public for a mainstream band in giving credit to the songwriter, saying,

I feel bad that David’s taken so much flack over this whole deal. Especially since he went out of his way to include me in the whole process. Not to mention, he has given me WAY more credit than most songwriters ever receive from a performer who covers their song. David has told the story of the song and given me full credit on countless radio interviews and press releases. This is actually pretty unheard of. In case you don’t know, most songs on the radio are covers. When’s last time you heard an artist reference the writer of a song?

As are the lyrics to “How He Loves,” God is definitely creative in the way he uses sad events in our lives to bring Him praise (and when I say that, it’s what I mean–not just an overused Christian expression). But for that sake of using trite phrases, “beauty from ashes” seems to apply to the way this song was born.

Feel free to express your thoughts on the lyrics, the story behind the lyrics, your interpretations or anything in between.

As always, thanks for reading.

“How He Loves” by David Crowder Band

“How He Loves” Lyrics

(Verse 1)
He is jealous for me
loves like a hurricane, i am a tree
bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
when all of a sudden
i am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and i realise just how beautiful You are
and how great Your affections are for me

(Pre-Chorus)
and oh, how He loves us so
oh, how He loves us
how He loves us all

(Chorus)
yeah, He loves us
oh, how He loves us
oh, how He loves us
oh, how He loves

(Verse 2)
we are His portion and He is our prize
drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
if His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
so heaven meets earth like an sloppy wet [unforeseen] kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
i don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when i think about the way…[to chorus]

7 replies
  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    We sing this song at my church using the “unforeseen kiss” and I have to tell you, that “sloppy wet kiss” seems so much more appropriate. I was having some personal problems and crying and praying, and this song kept coming to my head. I was singing it over and over… the “unforeseen kiss” just didn’t seem strong enough at this moment. I was trying to find a copy of it to listen to, and came across this blog. I didn’t know the original lyrics before. I am so grateful to know them now because it fits. Life is sloppy and uncomfortable and confusing and awkward. And when we are confused and lost and seeking God’s Grace and mercy, God wraps us in his embrace and carries us through.. we fight and pull and grab and try so hard to tear away from him and hold on to our burdens on our own.. and he still loves us and it feels good to bask in is love when heaven meets earth and we are so sad.. Thank God he loves us! Oh how I need him!

    Reply
  2. DaHLi
    DaHLi says:

    Wow! Amazing simply amazing! Most times we rush past life and assume its normal and that it just happens, but when McMillan takes his time and puts such artistic descriptions of how really life, us and God really are it just captures your attention and really gets you thinking and oh yes His love is amazing, so great from everlasting to everlasting and it’s what holds us amids all our crumbling walls of life! This song is a great reminder and encouragement to the body. May He ispire you more John. I’ve also watched Kim Walker lead this song and you can see how broken and ope she just releases herself and that is just contagious, Gods love literally fills the room and every tongue just loosened to love Him back!

    Reply
  3. Tony
    Tony says:

    Hey Ben. Why did you take down the video The Story Behind the Lyrics? I watched it about a week ago and was sos moved by it, I wanted to share it with some friends – but when I click on the link it says that the video has been removed by user. Can I find it somewhere else?

    Thanks friend.
    Tony

    Reply
  4. benkmoser
    benkmoser says:

    Tony, I didn’t take down the video, the owner of the video did. I don’t know what the motives behind the video are, but I’ll dig around and see if there are any others that may be appropriate for the slot.

    Reply
  5. benkmoser
    benkmoser says:

    Hey Tony! I found another video to replace the missing one. It’s not as great IMO, but it’s something. Thanks for stopping by friend!

    Reply
  6. benkmoser
    benkmoser says:

    Tony, I was able to find the original video on Vimeo and updated the post. Please, share away friend!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] could write for days about this topic alone, but I’ll spare you. In fact, I wrote about it in my last “Story Behind the Lyrics” post about the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan (and David Crowder Band, who […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *