Not the First

I felt like we needed a song about the innate longing of the human soul.  What better theme could there be for the Advent season?  We have plenty of musical options for soloists who want to sing traditional Christmas themes — songs about the birth of Jesus, about Mary and Joseph, about angels proclaiming good news to shepherds.  But like the season itself, the Advent aisle of contemporary Christian music is rather bare.  So a few years ago, I decided to compose my own songs for this season of hopeful expectation.  I’m not an accomplished songwriter by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a great partner in this creative venture.  My wife, Jessica, takes whatever words I’ve written for a basic chord progression, and she hones the melody until it becomes a cradle for some larger truth.  (As an aside, we’ve actually done the same thing for Good Friday in recent years.  Most songs about the cross of Christ tend to race ahead to the resurrection.  I haven’t found many that compel us to face the emptiness of that dark day as the first disciples faced it.)

This year’s Advent song was titled “Not the First.”  In one way or another, we all know the experience of waiting for peace… for love… for answers… for mercy… in an ultimate sense, for God.  And that waiting connects us to generations of God’s people who have gone before us.  These men and women of days gone by are our kinsmen in longing.  They, too, have felt the groaning of creation for redemption.  I believe that this longing is one of our surest signs of God’s existence.

May we lean into our longing this Advent season.  And may we find our home in the heart of a God who gives buoyancy to every promise until it is fulfilled.


Audio and Lyrics Below


Not the First

They counted every star across the sky,
Abraham and Sarah looking up and asking why.
A vision carried them along, They wondered if they got it wrong.
We are not the first to wait.

 Moses led the children through the sand.
40 years they roamed, and still no promised land.
They wondered if the parted sea was just a strange anomaly.
We are not the first to wait.
We are not the first to wait upon the Lord.

(Chorus)
On and on the story goes for everyone who’s walked this road
And felt the longing of the soul.
Remember when we cry for more and bruise our hands on heaven’s door,
We are not the first to wait upon the Lord.

Come, O Come, they sang Emmanuel.
Bind up all the wounds of captive Israel.
Holding fast to prophets’ word They lingered on a dream deferred.
We are not the first to wait.

Slowly through the streets of Bethlehem,
Rumors spread of glory that shone on all of them.
Could this be the Promised One or just another tale begun?
We are not the first to wait.
We are not the first to wait upon the Lord.

(Repeat Chorus)

All creation is groaning… to be redeemed.
At the end of all our prayers, give us strength enough to bear,
And hope for what we cannot see.

(Final Chorus)
On and on the story goes for everyone who’s walked this road
And felt the longing of the soul.
Blessed are the spirit poor, holding out to be restored.
We are not the first to wait…
We are not the last to find…
We are not the first to wait upon the Lord.