Translation Series #7: Prepared a Place for Me
Jokes and complaints about the lyrical shallowness of modern-day praise and worship songs are commonplace in this genre. Though there are more than a few grains of truth to the charges, several recent songwriters have been shining exceptions—including Keith & Kristyn Getty (discussed here), Stuart Townsend, and the songwriters associated with Sovereign Grace Music.
The Sovereign Grace Music team deserve particular kudos for lyrical creativity; recent examples include a project drawn from Puritan prayers, a project with the self-explanatory title of Come Weary Saints, and the project from which this song was drawn, Sons & Daughters. The project explores the “miracle of our adoption in Christ.”
There are several excellent tracks on the project, but the standout is the song “Prepared a Place for Me.” The song isn’t on YouTube, but here are the lyrics and clips of the verse melody and the chorus. The song is written by Doug Plank, pastor of CrossWay Church of Lancaster in Millersville, Pennsylvania.
The verses use vivid, precisely crafted phrases such as these:
Father, in the moment
When Your Son shall split the skies
And myriads of angels acclaim Him with their cries
By grace I will be able to join the jubilee
You prepared a place for me
The chorus is weaker, but not so weak as to keep this from being a standout track.
The song is sufficiently straightforward to lend itself naturally to a fairly wide variety of musical styles, and so nearly any group (except, perhaps, the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Dixie Echoes, and the Blackwood Brothers) could make it fit musically. But since the lyric covers territory rarely heard in this genre (or any other), it would be best delivered by a group with whom the message resonated, a group who would deliver it from the heart. So for this reason, I envision a Primitive Quartet rendition.
In a December 2005 feature interview on SoGospelNews [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed], Reagan Riddle told the story of his daughter and son-in-law adopting a Russian orphan:
My daughter and her husband adopted a little orphan girl from Russia about two years ago named Christina and she was 11 years old. Christina was with a group of orphans that came to America in hopes that they could get adopted. They came to Asheville and my son in law pastors one of the larger churches in Asheville. The group approached him about housing those 11 children for about 3 weeks. While they were here, 9 of those children accepted Christ. Christina was one of those children. My son in law and daughter had no plans to adopt any of the children at all, but after they went back to Russia, they became burdened for that little girl and they started making plans to adopt her. The interpreter told the children that since they knew Jesus, they could pray that the Lord would send them someone to adopt them.
My daughter and her husband built a big addition onto their house for Christina, and I thought about it this way…The Lord said when He went away to prepare us a place and that He would come back and receive us unto Himself. Christina heard that Jimmy (my son in law) was coming after her but she didn’t know when.
That story fits this lyric so well that it’s not hard to imagine the Primitives being an excellent fit for this song.