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“Love Song” – Deep Tracks #8

Last month, we looked at “When I Hear the Praises Start” by Keith Green. That song, like today’s selection, falls under a particularly beloved subgenre of my own invention called sub specie Dei—”from God’s perspective.” Many of the most comforting lyrics I listen to speak from the position of heaven, expressing the pure emotion the Father holds for His children. These may skirt the edge of sacrilege for some, but I find them deeply moving, giving new life to truths already clearly revealed in Scripture. And no artist has relied on sub specie Dei more than the (sadly) now-inactive Third Day.

Third Day performed a truly incredible number of songs from the perspective of the Godhead. These include many of their greatest hits—”I’ve Always Loved You,” “Come on Back to Me,” “Call My Name”—along with a number of my personal favorites, like “Carry My Cross,” “Rise Up,” and “The One I Love.” Eleven years ago, when the Music Inspired by the Story collaboration album came out and they needed someone to sing a song as Jesus, Third Day’s lead singer Mac Powell was chosen. More than perhaps any other band, Third Day captured the divine perspective.

One of Third Day’s most beloved songs falls into this category of sub specie Dei. It’s a track from their eponymous debut album simply known as “Love Song.”

LOVE SONG

I’ve heard it said that a man would climb a mountain

Just to be with the one he loves

How many times has he broken that promise

It has never been done

I’ve never climbed the highest mountain

But I walked the hill of Calvary

~

CHORUS:

Just to be with you, I’d do anything

There’s not price I would not pay

Just to be with you, I’d give anything

I would give My life away

Yeah, yeah

~

I’ve heard it said that a man would swim the ocean

Just to be with the one he loves

How many times has he broken that promise

It can never be done

I’ve never swam the deepest ocean

But I walked upon the raging sea

~

CHORUS

~

I know that you don’t understand the fullness of My love

How I died upon the cross for your sins

And I know you don’t realize how much that I gave you

But I promise, I would do it all again

~

FINAL CHORUS:

Just to be with you, I did everything

There’s no price I did not pay

Just to be with you, I gave everything

Yes, I gave my life away

Yeah, yeah I gave My life away

Yeah, yeah just to be with you

Oh, just to be with you

Oh, just to be with you

Oh, just to be with you

Written by Mac Powell

So here’s a quick story before I explain why this song is special to me: Years ago, I had a close friend who loved Ed Sheeran. When “Perfect” was released as a radio single, she spent hours explaining to me how emotionally significant that song was to Sheeran—how he’d written it for his long-time girlfriend and how it was all about his undying love for her. I found that hard to swallow—not because “Perfect” doesn’t have convincingly loving lyrics, but because “Shape of You” had been playing on the radio for a year prior. Despite my friend’s insistence that the latter song was just an inauthentic attempt to pander to general audiences, I could never make up my mind as to whether Ed Sheeran was truly the devoted boyfriend and family man of “Perfect” as opposed to the sex-crazed, objectifying bar hopper presented in “Shape of You.”

You see this a lot in secular music, actually. Artists will sing of undying love in one moment and of one night stands a moment later. They’ll make flowery, unrealistic promises that aren’t backed up by their lifestyles. The keyboardist who wrote Journey’s 1983 hit “Faithfully” was staring at a divorce a few months later. Allison and I danced to a beautiful John Denver waltz called “Annie’s Song” at our wedding, but Denver’s marriage with the titular “Annie” didn’t end up lasting. And I’m sorry, but I have a hard time imagining Bruno Mars actually taking a grenade for anyone.

It can be… depressing, seeing the shortfalls in our human love songs. It turns out that it’s really hard to find a romance that’s truly lasting and unconditional. The currents of this world will make many a troubadour into a liar by the time their life is through. And this understanding tempers my emotional reaction to our modern romantic ballads. Pledges of undying devotion are a dime a dozen. I’d much rather listen to an honest song about the occasionally insurmountable obstacles of human relationships. But I sometimes do wish that there was a love song I could hear without second-guessing. And that’s what “Love Song” sets out to do.

Mac Powell and the other members of Third Day are flawed human beings. But the lover revealed in these lyrics is not a mere human. Rather, He is a God who chose to step into our world and experience our corrupted flesh and blood. Jesus was—is—”love incarnate, love divine.” There is no truer depth of feeling than that which He holds for us. Our Savior is the only one who could ever say something like “just to be with you, I did everything” and tell the truth. The fact that we, as believers, get to believe in such a powerful love is one of the most uniquely uplifting aspects of our faith.

And that allows me to feel connected to the lyrics of this love song like I’ve connected to no other. The bridge, especially, brings me to the verge of tears. The thought that Jesus gave His life for me while knowing I’d never fully appreciate that gift blows my mind. Christ’s love succeeds in a place where friends, family, and even spouses fall short. And it is that glorious success that sets an example that I can follow to give my own love songs actual weight.

I really don’t hate secular love songs. They’re all expressing a general human longing for faithfulness and intimacy. However, they only tell half of the story in pretending that another human can satisfy that longing. It’s songs like “When I Hear the Praises” and “Love Song” that finish the tale correctly by telling of a sacrificial love “all loves excelling.” Sub specie Dei is one excellent way of framing that holy devotion. So next time you notice a musician using the divine perspective, listen closely. That might be the next manner God uses to reveal Himself in your life.

Instead of giving an extra recommendation this week, I’d actually like to hear from all of you, my readers! What ‘s something written in sub specie Dei that speaks to you personally? Are there other emotions or concepts you think secular music touches on but fails to bring to fulfillment? Do you have any song recommendations for me? I look forward to hearing what you come up with in the comments! Until next week~

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5 responses to ““Love Song” – Deep Tracks #8”

    • Thanks Betsy Jane! FK&C does indeed have some excellent music. While I love all of the songs you mentioned, I think my personal favorite of theirs would be “Missing” or “Shoulders.” I appreciate that they’re a current band who still cares about create musical masterpieces.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is my favorite post yet, Sully! So good and so true. I love the contrast you pointed out between the weak promises of secular love songs and the faithful promises of Christ’s love to us. I was just thinking this morning about the power we as Christians have to remain steadfast and joyful despite betrayal, suffering, or sadness. Most things are easier to bear if someone who loves us helps bear our burden and stays beside us. We have that privilege every single moment. God’s steadfast, unchanging love is a solid foundation that the world cannot offer.

    And you’ve pretty much heard all my good music by now, so one of the only possibly-unshared “sub specie Dei” songs I can think of is “Dimensions” by Jess Ray. Not exactly your style, but it’s a sweet song.

    Liked by 1 person

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