by Matt James
It could not have come at a more appropriate time. The day was Sunday, March 1, 2020, and it was just before the COVID-19 pandemic absolutely shocked the world. Thousands of people gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Elevation Church and began their corporate worship experience just like any other Sunday. Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes were visiting as guest worship leaders and had been doing some cowriting with Elevation Worship the week prior. They all decided they would introduce one of the new songs they wrote to Elevation Church that Sunday. Little did they know something so much greater was going to happen that none of them ever saw coming. I am talking about the Sunday release of the song “The Blessing”—written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick and Elevation Worship.
Literally two weeks after the release of “The Blessing,” Sunday, March 15, almost the entire United States and world was on lockdown. Stores, restaurants, businesses, schools, parks, malls, theaters, and yes—even churches—were closed due to the COVID-19 precautions. This would continue for a long time and even now in September of 2020, we are still feeling the effects of the past six months. You may be wondering what the significance of the timing of the release of “The Blessing” is, but before we get there, I want to take you back to the writing process of the song.
Straight from Scripture
According to an interview from Worship Together with Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick, and Chris Brown, the song almost did not happen. (Watch the entire interview here.) Kari, Cody, Steven, Chris, and Elevation Worship spent almost an entire day working on a totally different song. As they were finishing it up and getting ready to record the demo, they began talking more about a Scripture they were studying (Numbers 6:24-26) which says:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (NIV).
Out of this Scripture the song “The Blessing” was born. We just sang the song for the first time at Christ’s Church yesterday, but if you have yet to hear it, the song is taken word for word from this Scripture. Give it a listen here. As Cody Carnes describes the process, he mentions that they felt their only response to reading and meditating on this blessing was the word “Amen.” In response to this verse in the song, the chorus of the song is the declaring of “Amen,” which means “let it be so.”
The context of the Scripture is a blessing and prayer for the people of God. God said to Moses in Numbers 6:23-27:
“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (NIV).
To a Thousand Generations
As it was with the Israelites then, so it is with the people of God now. We, as the children of God, have also inherited this blessing because of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We can read this Scripture confidently as Christ followers knowing we get to experience this blessing because of Jesus—and what a true blessing that is.
Next comes the bridge of the song, the connection point between the verse and chorus. It is the portion of the song that brings it all together. The bridge of “The Blessing” is:
“May His favor be upon you and a thousand generations and your family and your children, and their children, and their children.
May His presence go before you and behind you, and beside you, all around you, and within you, He is with you, He is with you.
In the morning, in the evening, in your coming, and your going, in your weeping, and rejoicing, He is for you, He is for you.”
As Kari Jobe and Steven Furtick describe the writing process of this portion of the song, they note the intentionality of it being a generational song. The bridge, and really the entire song, is not only prayer of blessing for everyone in the room, but it is also for your family, and your children, and their children to come. Whether you are the worship team leading the song or the congregation singing it, everyone is praying a blessing over one another.
In a time like we are all living through right now, I cannot think of a more appropriate song to sing with and over one another. When we sing this song, something absolutely beautiful and significant happens that we do not want to miss—and it seems the world has caught on to that.
Even though we had been on lockdown and quarantine for weeks, people began to really get creative with ZOOM Meetings and other ways to stay connected. One of the ways this happened was with the idea of virtual bands/choirs. The idea was that even though we could not physically be in the same room, we could still participate in the making of music and worship.
After “The Blessing” LIVE at Elevation Worship was officially released on YouTube, it quickly accumulated millions of views and is now sitting at over 28 million. People fell in love with the song and began to sing it virtually in their churches literally all over the world. In a time of so much confusion and fear, this song brought hope to millions across the globe. As the song continued to be a phenomenon in Christian circles, we started to see virtual bands/choirs sing the song as a prayer of blessing over the earth.
Christianity Today featured an article called “‘The Blessing’ Sung Around the World: 100 Virtual Choirs Spread Worship Anthem.” You can find the article here.
God’s Heart for Us
Kari Jobe finishes her interview with Worship Together saying,
“I love that the Lord went before all of us. It is not about this song. This is about something that the heart of our Father, Father God, wants to remind us that he knew this was coming. He is not surprised, and he is not shaken. It might feel really unknown and really uncertain, but I just love how we are all having to dig in to what we know of his character and what we know of his goodness.”
Kari goes on to say:
“The children of Israel had to just trust that every morning manna was going to be there; and it was. Every single day it was there. And there’s probably a lot of people who have had to walk in that much trust and faith, but I don’t know that our whole nation and literally our globe has had to walk through something like this all at the same time. I love that this song is just Scripture and it came from the words of God to his people. There is so much power and strength in that to be reminded that this is the heart of God over us, his kids. We have been getting messages from so many people and some that say, ‘I don’t even know if I believe this, but I am intrigued.’ How beautiful is it that the Lord is drawing people in to who he is?”
It is absolutely amazing to see what this song has meant to so many people across the globe in 2020. As you go about your week, I encourage to listen to it, sing it, and pray it over those around you. This blessing is directly from our Father to us, his children—may we use it to bless others around us.
Matt James is a staff member, serving on the weekend experience and communication teams at Christ’s Church. He and his wife Haylee love being parents to their son Asa.