"He Is Yahweh" is a Vineyard song written by Dean Salyn and published in 2001. I first heard it years ago on an indie worship album by a group called 1000 Generations.
I still remember a few things about the song. First, I remember that it was piano-based. That may not seem like a big deal, but in 2001, most every worship album was driven heavily by guitars of both the acoustic and electric variety. The fact that this tune used electric guitar as a texture and not the foundation was a big deal to me. Secondly, I remember the concept being very striking. If you've never heard the song, let me explain: each verse of the song is a list of questions about God ("who is standing on the mountain and on the earth below?" "who is He that brings me comfort?") and the chorus is a list of answers. More specifically, a list of the names of God. The chorus ANSWERS the verses and as a young songwriter, I found that very compelling.
I hadn't heard the song since the early 2000s and was surprised to find it last year on a new Vineyard album. On that collection, the song was led by The Neverclaim. It took me a minute or two of "where-have-I-heard-this?" but eventually my mind went back to 2001. It was a fun little jog down memory lane, but I quickly forgot about it.
Until three weeks ago.
That's when I happened on a YouTube video of worship leader, Cory Asbury, leading this song for Bethel Music. I was familiar with Cory's music from his IHOP days and thought perhaps this video of "Yahweh" was a new tune of his. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was this old song I used to love.
I watched the video a few times. Then a few more. I loved the arrangement and enjoyed Cory's vocals. Most of you know I'm not a huge Bethel Music fan, but I can appreciate the musicianship and delivery. So...like most songs I enjoy and find myself listening to over and over, I thought, "Hmmm...maybe I should lead this song soon" and began my normal process of deciding on whether or not to lead the song. This is usually a long process for me as I try to dig into the song as deeply as I can before adding it to our catalog.
And then I hit a word in Verse 2 that stopped me. Here's the lyric:
Who is He that makes me happy?
Who is He that gives me peace?
Who is He that brings me comfort
And turns the bitter into sweet?
Why did I balk at the word, "happy"? Some sort of silent warning was going off in my head when I hit that word, but I couldn't tell why. Was it some sort of Spirt-led STOP-DO-NOT-GO conviction or was it something else?
It was something else.
I lead worship in a Bible church. A good, healthy, growing Bible church. And while my church doesn't wave the banner of "We're a Reformed church" or "Hey, we're Calvinists over here!" we do affirm God's sovereignty. In fact, if you were to poll our people, you'd find a lot of us - probably the majority - are Reformed (or Reformed-leaning) in our theology.
You wanna' know a word that Reformed churches don't use very much? HAPPY. In fact, I'd theorize that most Bible churches use that word in the negative more often than not: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOUR HAPPINESS or GOD ISN'T OUT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. It's a word with a negative connotation. We'll use "joy" or "contentment" or "satisfaction" but not "happy."
I'm not sure I'm ready to throw out the word, but that's not the point of this (very long) post. The point is that words are tricky. The point is that every church has its words that we don't use. Maybe it's justified, maybe not. As worship leaders, we have to care about words. We have to think about think seriously about words. We have to evaluate them, and maybe even defend them. We have to be smart about semantics. We have to become very wise about language and what we want our people to be singing.
And you know what? Following God does make my happy. Much more happy than I'd be without Him.