#187 - "SMS (Shine)" by David Crowder Band
What's the deal with all the tiny lightbulbs? NRT's Kevin Davis talks to David Crowder about what's going on behind the song.
David Crowder Band, the highly accessible worship group from Waco, last year released their most innovative effort to date, Church Music. Packed full with 17 full tracks, the band hopes this Dove Award-winning album serves as a reminder of the continual evolvement of music within the Church.
David Crowder Band's beautiful cover of "How He Loves," originally written and recorded by John Mark McMillan, is spectacular. The band finds a unique balance of sweet lyrical moments and passionate crescendos. The genuine sound of the song reminds us of the simple yet magnanimous love God has for us.
David Crowder Band is rounded out by guitarists Jack Parker and Mark Waldorp, bassist Mike Dodson, drummer Jeremy Bush and electronic violinist Mike Hogan. The band may bear Crowder’s name, but all six members of the group are involved in the creative process.
“We look at music as a conversation, and so all of us have input and participate in the conversation, and to make room for all six voices, you wind up with lots of layering,” Crowder says. “For me, I get bored very easily with music. I like music you can come back to and revisit, where each listen, there’s a new discovery. That’s been attractive and exciting for us, to try to create things like the stuff we love, stuff that’s enjoyable on multiple listens.”
I had the great opportunity to interview David about the current single “SMS (Shine).” (You can listen to the entire interview here.) Here’s what David shared with me about the song:
Please tell me about the background message behind the song and music video "SMS (Shine)."
The funny thing about this song is that when we talked about writing the song, it was based on such a simple idea. We were thinking back to our childhoods and singing “I’m gonna let it shine.” So the song started from the simple idea from Matthew 5:17, “let your light shine before men,” and the children’s song about not hiding our light. Something that sounds so simple when we are children can get beaten down in our adult lives.
Then someone mentioned several people in our church community going through tragic experiences, and how that’s when we see God’s light shine the most in people. We like the metaphor used throughout Scripture, “let there be light” starting in Genesis. Light pushes out darkness and it was bizarre for us to think about this concept of how when things get the most difficult, we can shine the most.
As soon as that thought came together, the song was easy to write as we thought about these people we know that have been lights for us. When it looks like they should be in their darkest moment, they are the brightest in the room. That led to the music video. We thought if we could take the idea of light in a childhood way, like the children’s song, we could show this idea. Nobody will take the blame for the LITE BRITE® idea because it became such an ordeal. Somebody mentioned it and we were off and running with the stop motion animation.
Do you have a life verse or any Bible verses that you used to write the song?
Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Do you have a personal story about the message of that song? And, more specifically, talk about the lyrics "Can You overcome this heart that's overcome."
To wrap up the chorus, we kept working on different lines to end it. I was in Florida when that line finally hit me. It’s exactly what you described, when you are in that place when you feel the bleakest, it’s hardest to find hope. It feels impossible to find hope on your own. That’s what’s beautiful is that you don’t have to find hope on your own. You need to turn to God. The story line of the song is that redemption wraps around our hearts. The video shows that as a plant that represents life envelops us and grows and grows. You are in the embrace of God. When you are overcome and feel the bleakest, that’s when grace is the most potent. There is victory over death, it has been swallowed up and has no more sting.
What's the take-away message for listeners regarding the song and music video?
The story line of the video reflects something we’ve universally experienced. We wanted to have something tragic. Because whether it’s our friends or family, death is unavoidable to us as humans here on planet earth. We hoped that possibly the video would be seen by non-Christians. We make “church music” and tend to feed a cloistered group of people. We wanted to tell the story of redemption to everyone. It was funny that as we set out to “let our light shine” in the music video, it got picked up by a lot of mainstream media outlets. It wound up in several prominent features. That was our hope, to create dialog about the story of God in places of darkness. The video is disarming and poignant and about the brevity of life and how people are spending their time before they die.
Here are the lyrics:
Send me a sign
A hint, a whisper
Throw me a line
'Cause I am listening
Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me to light
'Cause I am fainting
Surround me with a rush of angels wings
Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up I need to be near You
Hold me I need to feel love
Can You overcome this heart that's overcome
You sent a sign
A hint a whisper
Heaven is listening
Death laid love quiet
Yet in the night a stirring
All around a rush of angels
O the wonder of the greatest love has come
Shine Your light so all can see it
Lifted up 'cause the whole world needs it
Love has come what joy to hear it
He has overcome
He has overcome
I get goosebumps every time I’ve watched this incredible music video. The video and message of the song is so poignant and truly reflects Jesus’ Words: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
The last line of the song “He has overcome” is beautifully portrayed in the video. For me as a believer, this song wrecks me as I think about how God has overcome sin, suffering and death. He has overcome the fall from the Garden of Eden. As David mentioned, before God created man, He created light. God sent Jesus so that we could have light return. As believers that’s our story and our challenge to think about how we are reflecting the light of Jesus and how we are spending our time before we die.
This is a great message and song for us to celebrate our freedom from sin based on our faith in Christ Jesus. Also, it is commanded by Jesus in verse 16 to "let your light shine" so that others may praise God based on seeing the power of His life in us. Sometimes we forget to give Jesus credit for our freedom and accomplishments. We need to celebrate that freedom with our hands reaching out to others in Christ and show His light in us and let Him shine in us.
In closing, be encouraged by the light of Jesus shining in all of us based on our faith in Him and personally I am very moved knowing that Jesus is shining in me for all to see and believe. Perhaps in the next couple of weeks we can all practice "letting our light shine so that others may praise our Father in Heaven."
The music video portrays a love story made completely of LITE-BRITE® pegs was done solely by hand. Even details such as the piano playing in the background and the monkeys beating a drum in perfect time was done free of digital effects and computer animation. It took 2,150 man hours, 1,200 LITE-BRITE® images, 83 friends and 148 pizzas to complete the video.
Click here to watch the incredible music video.
Posted February 08, 2011 | Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org.