Nothing but the Blood

I’ve picked an unlikely hymn to start this project.  On the Background page of this blog, I mentioned that I usually write music for obscure hymns that are rarely sung these days.  Well, “Nothing but the Blood” certainly doesn’t fit that category.  In fact if there are 10 hymns in the world that are taboo to mess with, this one is probably on that list.  I sent the MP3 of this rewrite to my friend Nathan, and he said his initial reaction was “NOOOOOO, you can’t do that.  The [mature] folks will freak!”  He changed his mind, however, after he heard the new arrangement.  While some hymns are lost in the shuffle, this one is a staple of most churches that still use hymns in their gathered worship.  So why did I write new music for this classic?

In February I was preparing to lead the music at a youth conference of about 300 middle and high school students.  While I had put a lot 0f popular music in the sets for the weekend, I needed to supplement those with a few songs that would challenge the students.  I had chosen a few great contemporary songs with powerful lyrics.  But as I read through the set as a whole I realized that most of the songs I had chosen focused on the greatness of God in creation and his powerful love, but very few of them really focused on Christ or his work on our behalf.  Essentially I needed a song to fit a very specific spot in the set.  I needed a song that spoke about forgiveness and redemption through the cross of Christ.  I couldn’t find the right one.  I began to search my hymnal for a hymn that would fit.  I found countless songs that had the right message, but none that had the melody, tempo, and style that I needed.  “Nothing but the Blood” seemed to be a great choice lyrically.  My band and I tried a few versions of the original melody with different instrumentation, but nothing we did felt natural for the song.  So I set out to write a new tune for it.

It was a noisy week and a hard week for me mentally.  Political voices berated each other over health care reform, and the talking heads seemed to crowd every TV and radio station with their polemic energy.  Angry co-workers bickered over nothing.  My children (whom I love with all my heart) “lived out loud” as I returned home from work.  To top it all off, a tinge of my cyclical depression had surfaced in the midst of the chaos.  More than I needed one more song for a weekend conference, I needed peace.  I needed to be gently reminded of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So, as I often do, I retreated to my studio that night and turned on the mic.  And with a heavy heart, I began to play.

A new melody came, simple and calm.  It gently reminded me of the gospel;  that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  In the words of the writer of this hymn, Robert Lowry, that gospel is “all my hope and peace.”  There are weeks when I want to know more about God.  There are weeks when I want to read theology and study church history.  There are times in my life when I am passionate about church life and government.  But there are other times when I just need peace and assurance.  I find both in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe Jesus Christ really lived a perfect life.  I believe that he really was fully God and fully man.  I believe that he died on a real cross and shed real human blood.  I believe he really rose on the third day and conquered death.  In fact, I’m betting my life on it.  I hope my new tune and Robert Lowry’s words gently remind you to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

MP3

Each month I’ll post a new song.  These are low-budget recordings and you can have them FREE.  Just right-click on the link below, choose “Save Target As,” and it’s all yours.  If you want to make a donation, I am funneling all funds from this project to International Justice Mission.  Visit the Donate page for more details.  And please share this blog with your friends.

01 Nothing but the Blood

(if you can’t download the file, send me a message at ecparker@comcast.net and I’ll email you the MP3)

Chord/Lead Sheet

For those who want to use this song in their worship services, visit the Resource page for a pdf version of the chord sheet.

Credits

Words by Robert Lowry 1876

Music and additional lyrics Copyright 2010 Eric Parker/BMI

Eric Parker – guitars and vocals

Brett Nolan – keys and production

About ericparkermusic

I'm a tired husband and father who is trusting Jesus to bear fruit in my life.
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12 Responses to Nothing but the Blood

  1. Mike Jones says:

    Really nice treatment and totally original- not a reworking of the melody but new treatment of the text. This will be a great song to use during Communion as the words are familier, but the melody is different. The production is really nice too.

  2. Nathan Carico says:

    I think what I actually said was “No, you cant rewrite that hymn…for some it will be like tampering with the Scriptures. The blue hairs and the 20 something hipsters will pitch a fit!”

    But you were more pastoral in your blog. I am guessing you have blue hairs and hipsters who read this?

    Good work!

  3. Jean Hawkins says:

    Eric, this is beautiful! Very meditative and because the melody is very lyrical, it makes the focus be on the words in a new fresh way. I love it and really hope we will get to hear it in a church service soon and very soon!!

  4. Rachel & Paul says:

    We really really love this song. Your music is so great to prepare our hearts for worship on Sunday mornings and at all times.

  5. June Hanks says:

    Perfect to bring life back into beloved messages!
    June

  6. Kelly Stultz says:

    This tune comes straight from your heart to your voice and guitar to our hearts. Beautiful and worshipful! Thanks Eric! Looking forward to MANY MORE!!

  7. Al Caspersen says:

    Thanks Eric! Love your music. Keep it coming!

  8. Tina Williams says:

    Thank you, I love hymns so I was uncertain how a new melody to a beloved hymn would sound. It is great! I look forward to hearing more.

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