Go Behind the Scenes of Songs for the Book of Luke

Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

David LaChance, founder of Musaic Worship, is the staff worship leader at Christ Memorial Church in Williston, Vermont. He’s also a big part of The Gospel Coalition’s Songs for the Book of Luke worship record: songwriter, musician, vocalist, and arranger. Get the inside story on the creation of Songs for the Book of Luke in my interview with David.

You wore several “hats” in The Gospel Coalitionʼs Songs for the Book of Luke project. How did you came to be involved in this project?

I met Mike Cosper, who produced this project, in 2008. We interacted over the years, and in 2011 I came to Louisville for a yearlong project and attended Sojourn Church. Throughout this time Mike invited me to be one of the musicians on Sojournʼs The Water and the Blood album, for which I did a little arranging and co-wrote the title track with Neil DeGraide. The album was a positive experience that paved the way for my involvement in the Songs for the Book of Luke project.

For the Luke project, Mike invited me to again contribute as one of the musicians but also to arrange most of the selected songs. I played the piano on the album and sang lead on one track. I arranged a majority of the songs, including the choir arrangements. We had a recording session with a select choir from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and that was a project highlight for me. The arrangements were designed as structural placeholders that would allow the musicians to improvise efficiently and give them a “finished” starting point. Some of the arrangements remained intact while other arrangements took on a whole new personality as the musicians began to improvise and infuse their own style.

Tell me about the recording process for this record. What was it like to work with a variety of worship leaders and pastors from around the country? Did they all come to Louisville to record live, as you did?

The recording process happened in two phases. In the first phase all of the musicians traveled to a studio in El Paso and spent a week working off of my arrangements, coming up with variations, deciding to keep the original in some cases and in other cases coming up with entirely new arrangements. In the second phase the singers and some of the musicians traveled to Louisville for a week to track the vocals.

It really is a joy to work with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ who have the first priority of abiding in truth and then feeding Christʼs sheep. The body of Christ is a mosaic of different preferences, styles, methods, and callings. Yet the world knows us by our unbreakable unity despite these broad preferential differences.

I appreciate the variety of contexts and age groups represented in the contributors to this project. This project wasn’t made by a group of elitist hipsters or the Nashville machine; older and younger generations of men and women serving their local churches in traditional and contemporary contexts all worked together without an attitude that implied their way is really the right way. This is the definition of loving the brethren. This is the love the world witnesses, wonders about, and knows us by.

You wrote a song for this record called “Song of Zechariah,” arranged and inspired by Zechariahʼs song in Luke 1:67-79 (a hymn of praise commonly known as the Benedictus). What drew you to that section of Scripture?

The passage is a well-known song . . . so I figured there must be an advantage to working with a proven “lyricist.” Joking aside, I like the idea of connecting musically with something in our Christian history that originally contained music.

For the most part, we sing the same notes today as first-century Christians did, so I feel like in some way we are speaking the same language even though we are worlds apart. In a way, music has that power to reverse the confusion of Babel. Itʼs just a little more edifying knowing these words were also sung, and these words are full of prophetic, gospel truth. Also, I was surprised that I was unable to find a contemporary treatment of the Benedictus, and I thought this was a good reason to choose this text.

When choosing a passage, I also keep the corporate application in mind, and in this case it was the “already/not yet” tension of the Christian life. I have attempted recently to convey this tension in my lyrical content, not from the viewpoint of the struggle with our sin (guilt-wrought groveling), which I think is often an inverse of the “me-centered” worship songs, but between the struggles with suffering that results from sin being in the world and of our certain promises of all things being made new in Christ. Because of Christ, we offer praise amid trials without any doubt that God has saved his people once and for all. Yet we are a people being saved through defeat in this world and will continue to groan along with creation for the consummation of Christʼs kingdom—even in the afterlife (Revelation 6:10).

However, we are not without a firm hope, and this is what I attempt to convey in the song. Even after Christʼs declaration “It is finished,” our song remains a saving plea and a song of praise, or “Hosanna in the highest!” This is summed up and restated in the bridge of the song: “We sing a song of faith, we sing a song of hope, we sing a song of love, and for the sake of love we are saved” (John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39).

At your site MusaicWorship.com, youʼve posted the demo mp3 of “Song of Zechariah.” Although the melody is the same, the arrangement on the Songs for the Book of Luke record goes in a different direction than some would have expected. How did you settle on that arrangement?

My song was one of the only songs we went into the studio with that retained the original arrangement of the submitted demo. So when we went to record the song, we essentially started out with a blank canvas. At first, we went the CCM route of the demo, but this direction wasnʼt ideal for all of the musicians. Dan Phelps, who played lead guitar on this album, starting playing a Motown-style guitar rhythm. The band immediately went in that direction, and the arrangement fell into place. The end result is a lot different from my original vision, but the song ended up adding a flare of energy and fun on the album.

You can read David’s full interview at my site, “My Song in the Night.” You can also purchase or stream the album on The Gospel Coalition’s Bandcamp page.

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