The title track from Dara Maclean
's EP, Bethlehem Skies,
features Dave Barnes
, who also co-wrote the song. "This song nearly poured out and begged to be written," Dara said. "When we stumbled upon the line, ‘All of this with me in mind... under Bethlehem Skies.' We were both wrecked in the best of ways and thankful for such a special, worship like, song writing experience.
"Even more exciting though, was thought of getting to share a message of hope in attempting to capture even the smallest glimpse of the heart of God for His children," she continued. "To think, even before time began, He had a plan in place and us in mind. Now nothing can separate us from His love."
I recently interviewed Dara about "Bethlehem Skies." Here are the answers to the questions I asked her.
Please share the story behind the song "Bethlehem Skies."
The songwriting process for this song was different than usual and very exciting for me. We were literally sitting around a table at my label, Word Records, and every department was present. We were reviewing the year, our goals and accomplishments and vision-casting--good stuff.
It came up that we were almost at the deadline of being able to record a new song for Christmas. I couldn't believe how quickly that happened. It's been one thing after another, in the best way. They asked if I wanted to do a Christmas song, since we didn't have much time. I was like, hello, I love Christmas songs. Absolutely I wanted to write a song for Christmas.
It's a really special honor to be able to create music in general, and especially for Christmas. My favorite Christmas songs are holy and timeless and perfect, like hymns. You need to tread lightly and pay homage. I hope to one day do a Christmas album, and to even get to cover my favorite songs would be an honor for me.
"O Come All Ye Faithful" is one of the best worship songs ever written. I was concerned, due to the timing, and I walked out of that meeting. I prayed that it would be the right song, and a little different, and the song reflected the desires of my heart.
I went to a co-writing session with Ben Glover, and I had no idea that Ben's recording studio was right next to Dave Barnes'. I love everything Dave's ever recorded, especially his Christmas album. I love his voice. We'd written together before, and I was trying to get together with Dave Barnes but it wasn't working out. On this particular day, Ben sent Dave a message and all of a sudden Dave walked over to the studio. The next day, Dave and I co-wrote this song together. It was remarkable, and it was totally the Lord's doing, but the words just came out of us. This song was just begging to be written. Within an hour and a half, we knew we had a song that was worshipful and in awe of the process. Paul Mabury produced the song, and we love how it turned out.
Please tell me about the Bible verses you used in writing the song. Any life verse?
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
What's the takeaway message for listeners?
I had a desire in my heart to write a worshipful Christmas song, and God met us that day and met that need. God knows the desires of our hearts, and He is so faithful. The lyrics from the song which just moved us, and we knew God inspired were "all of this with me in mind." Every bit of sacrifice, every moment that you are separated from God, everything points to the need for Jesus.
The song reflects the heart of the Father. Christmas is about peace and stillness and stopping the chaos of life and knowing that God had us in mind. When Jesus was a baby, we know He had a goal for His life to sacrifice Himself and save us from darkness and destruction. We would never have to be separated from Him again. The plan was put in place with the birth of Jesus that nothing would separate me from Him. It's His revelation that we need to refresh daily.
If the enemy can't stop us from being born again, he can try to separate us from connecting with Jesus. You'll be lifeless without that connection. We need His grace to life a lifestyle that glorifies the Lord. Darkness and seclusion happened once, and will never need to happen again due to Jesus. We need Him daily, and God's a jealous God. God doesn't want us to be without Him. He protects us from ourselves. I just want people to worship God with this song.
Dry your eyes the King has come
Death has lost and victory won
You were born to change it all
A warrior though frail and small
Just a baby
sleeping in a manger
All the world was waiting for You to come
Holy, Holy, Silent night
Peace has come to all mankind
All of this with me in mind
Under Bethlehem skies
Oh the role you came to play
Born to give your life away
Soon you'll set the captives free
But tonight's about your welcoming
Hear the angels singing
Glory in the highest, the Lord has come
Hear the angels sing
Come now our King
The song is beautiful and encourages me how much God loves me. The thought that God rejoices over us with singing is incredible and He is worthy of all of our praise and devotion.
In his devotional book Glory Revealed, David Nasser says: "Every song we sing to the Lord is a duet and not a solo. The most marvelous thing about a relationship with God is that it is truly a dialogue. We aren't just sitting here on earth worshipping a Creator who simply soaks us our love, rather He's so involved in our affection, He's in the midst of it." I love that God sings back to us.
This song is a great way to pray along with Dara and Dave and to remember that God will never leave or forsake you. Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. Give someone that gift this Christmas and share with them the Truth of knowing Jesus as Savior, Redeemer, and King.
Dara Maclean sings her songs with such passion it is hard to not get caught up in the emotion of the songs. Dara's song "Bethlehem Skies" is a fantastic way to witness what it means to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, which is to worship our King, Jesus. If we really meditate on that, you can decide this Christmas to make some sacrifices. Maybe go to a homeless shelter or participate in Operation Christmas Child. There's so much more fulfillment in those things.
Jesus gave of Himself. His gift was free and undeserved. That's the true meaning of Christmas. When you allow that to sink down from your head into your heart, it changes us and how we respond. It affects all aspects of our lives. My prayer for my life and my family is that we all truly understand that Jesus came for each one of us. Our response is to worship Him and share Him with others who don't know Him. Amen to that! Merry Christmas!
(Listen to the song here
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.