Song Snapshots #3: But For the Blood

Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.

Belinda Smith, who co-wrote “But For the Blood” with Joel Lindsey, grew up in a church her grandfather pastored. After her grandfather died, the church shut down, and she bought the church piano.

One day, co-writer Joel Lindsey had come over to Belinda’s house in Nashville. They were sitting at this piano when they decided to write a straight-up Southern Gospel song. “Whenever you tell me straight-up Southern Gospel,” Smith recalls, “I immediately think of the Blood, the Cross, the tempter, and Salvation. Those would be the things where I go immediately.”

“I was trying to write a song that my grandpa would like,” she adds, something that would “get my grandpa to say amen out loud.”

After they had been working on the song for a while, Joel asked, “What if we did a chorus that was like, ‘But for the mercy, but for the blood’?”

“It was one of those moments where it was like the ceiling opened up, and the light of Heaven came down,” Smith said, “and I’m like, ‘Yes, Yes!’”

After that chorus idea, they finished the song in about ten minutes.

The Hoppers recorded it on their 2002 album Steppin’ Out and selected it as a radio single. Though the song didn’t hit #1, it got so much radio airplay that BMI gave Smith and Lindsay an award for the song being one of the most-played Southern Gospel hits of the year.

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5 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I love this song. Now granted the stacks on it makes it somewhat difficult for them to sing live. Because of all the times I have seen the Hoppers in concert I have never heard them sing it. I have been seeing them since Great Day which was 2003 .However, this is one of those “forgotten gems” that the Hoppers have recorded. This is one of the strongest songs they have lyrically, they should consider singing it again in concert sometime.

    • I would have to completely agree that it’s one of the strongest songs, lyrically, that they’ve ever done. It’s right up there with something like “Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin” or “Citizen of Two Worlds.”

      I don’t think, though, that the song’s melody is inherently hard to sing; it’s not, I think, one of those octave-and-a-half songs like O Holy Night. It’s more the key and the arrangement. If it’s indeed too challenging as it stands to stage each night, maybe, one of these days, they’ll drop it a step or two and re-add it to their live programs.

  2. I concur. My point of it being difficult to song live is: Given the fact that when they recorded it Kim recorded both the melody and the counterparts, which she has done before and it’s usually those songs they don’t sing live. However, now that TaRanda is singing with them (can they please just make it official!!!). One can only hope that they will start singing this song again *crosses fingers*

    • I’ve only seen discussion of TaRanda singing with them at NQC. But, imagining Kim and TaRanda on that song – wow!

  3. It would love if TaRanda started singing with them some more. Their performances were easily some of the strongest at NQC this year. I know that those two singing that song would be amazing indeed. 🙂