BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#488 - "How Sweet the Sound" by Citizen Way
Singer Josh Calhoun shares about how God can speak the loudest in the midst of silence.
 


Love is the Evidence is the debut album by Fair Trade Services' band, Citizen Way. The four-piece band is comprised of two sets of siblings: Josh and Ben Calhoun and David and Ben Blascoe. The album contains catchy and worshipful songs with lyrics that point to the wonders of our God combined with sweeping melodies and infectious choruses that will be replayed in your mind over and over again. It is one of my top 10 albums of 2013

I really enjoy the single, "How Sweet the Sound," paraphrasing several Scriptures and the lyrics of the world's most famous hymn, "Amazing Grace." "Yea though I walk through the valley I know that You are always right beside me…Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, I hear You singing over me, I once was lost but now I'm found, and it's beautiful…and it's a beautiful sound" is the bold testimonial of this great anthem for Christians everywhere expressing gratitude for God's Amazing Grace. I had the chance to speak with Josh Calhoun about the song.

Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.

This song is near and dear to my heart. I started writing it a couple of years ago when I was going through a period of my life when I couldn't talk anymore. I have had vocal trouble most of my life. When I was a kid and in high school and college, it just sounded cool, like a Clint Eastwood kind of raspy voice. When I sang, it sounded great and a lot of people liked it. I never thought anything was wrong with my voice, and that was just the way it sounded. In singing a lot more with the band night after night my voice started going away and it wasn't coming back. I wasn't able to sing let alone talk anymore. I went to the doctor to find out what was going on. It so happened that there was there little cyst on my vocal chords that had been there a long time. It has just reached the point where it was a large enough size where it made it so I couldn't talk. I had to have surgery. The doctor told me there was a possibility that I wouldn't be able to sing anymore because of the surgery. That really scared me. I thought that was what God had called me to do, to share His Gospel and to share His story through song and through that ministry. It was scary and I prayed okay God, what do You want me to do? It was during the five weeks of vocal rest after the surgery when I couldn't say a word that my wife and I started praying to God about His desire and His will for my life rather than what I had always thought I wanted. We started digging through Scripture and one of the verses that starts off the song is "yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I know that You are with me" that David cries out in Psalm 23. It was really reading that Scripture where I was reminded that I don't need to fear this because I know God has a plan to use me whether I can sing or talk or not. That really comforted me because I knew I could trust in the Lord and not lean on what I thought I knew but lean on His understanding of my life. 

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? 

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV):
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV): "The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

What is the takeaway message for the song and album?

There was another verse when I started singing this song to my brother Ben that he showed me from Zephaniah 3:17, "the Lord your God is mighty to save, He will quiet you with His love and rejoice over you with singing." That struck a chord with both of us. In those five weeks of vocal rest, He made it so I couldn't talk anymore. He was quieting me so that I could listen better. Often we get in the way thinking we know what is best for our lives. God was showing me to be quiet for a while because He wanted to speak to me. It was during that time that He spoke to me, "quieting me with His love, and rejoicing over me with His singing." That's where the chorus of the song comes from, "it's a beautiful sound, I hear You singing over me." During those five weeks of vocal rest, I couldn't speak or sing but melodies went through my head all of the time. I was whistling this melody during that time that is the chorus of the song, "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, I hear You singing over me." That part kept going through my head so I would whistle it over and over. After the five weeks, when I was able to talk again, I sounded like a boy going through puberty. My voice was all over the place. My wife said I had no control of my voice. It would be really low and then really high pitched. It was really comical and I was worried that was how I would always sound. After I could talk, I was able to sing a little bit. That Amazing Grace of God that we sing about was able to restore my voice and it was better than it ever was my entire life. I don't have that raspy sound anymore. My vocal range has grown and I'm so amazed by God's grace. He still wants me to sing and lead worship and He wants me to encourage people with the truth that I so rest upon in His word.

Ever since that experience, I've been learning to be still and know that He is God. I've been learning to rely on His promises that He will never leave or forsake us. All of the songs on this album are about giving thanks to the Lord for all things for He knows what we need before we even need it. Ben says from stage that we as a band need to hear those words every night. We know that if we need to hear them, then everybody needs to hear them. In all things, there's nothing that's going to hinder God from reaching us. There's nothing that's going to stop us from getting closer to God except ourselves. We need to throw off everything that hinders us, like Paul says, so that we can run this daily race. As we say in another song, "though life is a mess and life is a death, there's beauty in the Cross." That's why Jesus died for us. The rest of the album is about proclaiming that it doesn't end there. Though we were once sinners in need of a Savior, we are no longer bound to those chains. That's the beauty of the Cross that we are able to sing about. We want people to see the joy we have in Christ. Love is the evidence of Christ in our lives.

Lyrics:
Yea though I walk through the valley
I know that You are always right beside me
And I will fear no evil
You're my rock and my strength
You comfort me

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I'm found
And it's beautiful
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it's a beautiful sound
It's a beautiful, beautiful sound

Carry me through the waters
Where Your peace clears away all my sorrow
And nothing can separate us from Your love
Oh Your love it will always be

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I'm found
And it's beautiful
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it's a beautiful sound
It's a beautiful, beautiful sound

You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah You restore my soul

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it's a beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound


Citizen Way has a great opportunity to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God with their transparent lyrics and incredible musical talent. Love is the Evidence is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith. All of the songs are catchy, exciting and worshipful. What's most impressive is how these catchy songs will have you singing along at the top of your lungs after just a couple of listens. 

After listening to the album, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the heart behind this album, and thank you Citizen Way for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God. As the song "Love is a Mess" declares, this album is "The Story of the Cross…the beauty of the Cross." 

The thought that God rejoices over us with singing is humbling 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." The song sings, "And it's a beautiful sound." Amen to that!

(Watch the band sing 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.

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