Don’t let the simplicity of this song fool you, it belongs on your playlist!
Although it has been covered by other groups, I love its original version done by David Leonard and Leslie Jordan in their group, All Sons & Daughters:
Why does this belong on your playlist?
First, God is described as life, love, light, and hope. There is no question about who is receiving the praise of this song and it is done without gendered language (big props, All Sons & Daughters!). But there is a nuance here that is key–and it’s pneumatological. The Holy Spirit is so often forgotten in our music making, but with this song it takes a central place. Although not explicitly named, the Spirit resides within the breath imagery. The Spirit is the connecting force amongst the community and stirs within us, prompting our alleluias to ring with the very creation we are a part of. The intimate imagery of God within us, our very breath, is truly the work of the Spirit.
Another reason this song should be on your playlist is the communal nature. It builds an identity of “we” that is in contrast to the singular “You” of God. We offer praise with our breath. This song could have easily used I & my and fit in with its contemporaries, but I suspect that the theme of larger identity was very much intentionally chosen.
Proof of this, I think, occurs in the bridge:
And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry these bones will sing
Great are You Lord
The imagery of our very bones joining in with the song of the earth shouting God’s praise presents an idea that thrills me. It places me in a space with all believers connected beyond immediate boundaries and joins our hearts in one united cry. This is also accented with the most musically interesting point of the song, as the rhythm moves back and forth from triple to duple meter (hemiola!). The bridge builds with a joined cry that rings beautiful in our ear: Great are You, Lord!