Is He Worthy?

Every song you sing can be broken down into at least three essential components: melody, theme, and delivery.

Those first two -- melody and theme -- are the most obvious, right?  Most simply defined, a song is "words set to music". Words are the theme, or the content of any given song. Melody is simply the result of attaching one or more musical notes to each word. Just as a series of words conveys a thought or an idea (theme), a series of notes creates a musical thought or idea (melody). Remove the theme from a song and you're left with music, for a song needs words to sing. Remove the melody from a song and you cannot rightly call it a song, either. A song without music is simply speech, or at best, poetry.

While you need melody and theme for a song to exist, the natural byproduct of every song sung will always include delivery. This under-acknowledged component is multi-faceted. I use the category of delivery to include all the emotions, motivations and methods involved in singing. In other words, if the melody and theme are the what of a song, the theme is the how.

Take for example the song "Happy Birthday", one of the few songs left in modern culture that is still sung communaly. You're probably singing it in your head right now, as the melody and words are so readily familiar. But of all the times you've sung "Happy Birthday", were those instances always sung the same? Were you always motivated to sing from a heart of appreciation for the person your were singing to, or were you sometimes simply participating out of obligation to the tradition? And didn't those motivations usually influence how you sang, be it with exuberance or with cold, lifeless, get-through-it-ism? Was the key or tempo of the song ever accurately established, or did you find (like I so often do) that the song is always struck up with absolutely no consideration for the singing range of the majority of those attending the party? The point is this - even a song with a singular melody and theme can produce infinite variety thanks to the component of delivery.

Every song will be composed of melody, theme, and delivery. That's the given. But the gift of a song is when those three are woven together with intent. I say gift because without the intentionality of weaving the three components together, the whole thing just seems... obligatory. A pile of metal, tires, and a tank of gas does not a car make, though they make up the components of a car. But when the metal takes shape, and wheels are attached to said shape, and it is given power - then and only then should we rightly call it a car. And so I believe that an ideal song isn't satisfied with the components alone, but the art of bringing them together and creating something truly ordered and meaningful and beautiful. The formless gives way to life. That's why I call it a gift. It's a grace to us when a song is composed with such care.

If a song can bring beauty beyond its basic parts, then I believe "Is He Worthy?" succeeds in that endeavor. Its theme is Revelation 5 and the heavenly vision of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who receives all the worship He has earned and deserves. Its melody conveys longing and joy and expectation. Each question posed settles with an affirmative "we do" that sounds just like the next. The melody mirrors the meaning, like a mother's soft and steady "you are" when asked by her anxious, quivering child, "is it safe?" There's also each chorus, whose melody rises with each question and corresponding reply, like wave after wave. At its apex, when "is He?' becomes 'He is!', the melody reaches its highest point. No more up and down, back and forth. The heights of the theme are met with the heights of the musical staff.

But the delivery - that seals the deal. Think about it. Who's doing the asking, and who's doing the answering? I think in the most ideal circumstance we'd have to suggest that each of us singing is doing both. Don't we all share in the Apostle John's longing to see the scroll opened and God's promises ultimately fulfilled? Aren't all our hearts aching over the reality of this broken world, yearning for restoration? Don't each of us whose faith and trust are in Christ point with certainty, like the elder, to the Lamb who has secured salvation for us? And how blessed to recall that we join in the heavenly choir to sing His praise, to proclaim without reservation that indeed He is the only answer. It is not simply a song of observation, but one of participation, in which each one of us is either edifying or being edified in its singing. Anything less might not fully convey the vision of this glorious scene.

I am grateful for the gift that the authors of this song have given to Christ's Church. What excites me most is the opportunity it provides the saints to recall the unity we share with one another and those who have gone before us, and to recall the importance of our times of worship together in song and prayer around God's Word. We'd do ourselves (and one another, of course) a bit of good to sing this song in full assurance of the hope that it proclaims. I trust we will.
Do you feel the world is broken? We do
Do you feel the shadows deepen? We do
But do you know that all the dark
Won't stop the light from getting through? We do
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? We do

Is all creation groaning? It is
Is a new creation coming? It is
Is the glory of the Lord
To be the light within our midst? It is
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David's Root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
Is He worthy, is He worthy
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this? He is

Does the Father truly love us? He does
Does the Spirit move among us? He does
And does Jesus our Messiah
Hold forever those He loves? He does
Does our God intend to dwell again with us? He does

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David's Root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From ev'ry people and tribe, every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son
Is He worthy, is He worthy
Of all blessing and honor and glory?
Is He worthy, is He worthy
Is He worthy of this?

He is, He is
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is, He is
He is worthy! He is worthy! He is

Words and Music by Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive © 2018 Jakedog Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) and remaining portion is unaffiliated