BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#330 - "Angel By Your Side" by Francesca Battistelli
Franny's response to the questions of pain and loss in this life frames the foundation for this song.
 


Fervent Records' GRAMMY-nominated and multiple Dove Award-winning artist Francesca Battistelli recently released "Angel By Your Side." The song is available on iTunes and is featured on her critically acclaimed sophomore album Hundred More Years, available everywhere now.

Battistelli, who currently is expecting the birth of her second child, has sold more than one million downloads to date, making her the best-selling new artist in the genre in the past eight years.

I had the great opportunity to interview Francesca about her current hit single "Angel By Your Side." This is my sixth "behind the song" devotional interview with her, making Francesca my most featured female artist in my series over the past four years. Here are the answers to the questions I asked Francesca.


Regarding "Angel By Your Side" what's the main message of the song?

This is one of those songs for me that I've been excited about since the day I co-wrote it with Jason Walker about three years ago. The inspiration for the song originally was based on a manager in the music industry who suddenly passed away. I didn't know him personally, but seeing people who knew him grieve and not understand why it happened, and asking God why it happened led to this song. I sang Jason the melody and told him my idea and it clicked immediately. It was one of those really special times where God gave us this song. I wanted to write something that would encourage people going through difficult seasons. As the body of Christ, that's what we're called to do, to lift up our brothers and sisters and be there for them when they are weak. It is a really beautiful picture of what the body of Christ should be.

What was it like when you met Tori Svenson on CNN?

Tori Svenson is a young girl whose story I first heard back in September. It's a story of beauty and heartbreak all at the same time. Her strength and joy in the midst of fighting cancer is inspiring, to say the least. There are some things in this life I don't know if we will ever understand. It brings me peace, though, to remember that God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than ours. To think that the Lord can use something as simple as a song to encourage Tori during chemo treatments is a blessing beyond words.

I wrote "Angel By Your Side" with the hope that it would encourage people who were going through difficult times, but I never could have pictured Tori. Meeting Tori was a very moving experience. Getting to meet her on CNN was very cool and I don't know how I didn't lose it completely. The sweetest thing to me about Tori and her relationship to the song is that she says her mom is her angel by her side. That just breaks my heart, especially as a mom, and of course her mother is going to be there for her.

Tori is so young and innocent, but she knows her mom will be there for her. She has so much life and joy and it's amazing to see what impact she's had in her life and how God has used her story. Her mom told me that she always knew Tori was special and that God would use her somehow, but that day on CNN was the first time she'd seen it with her own eyes. It was so true and so amazing.


Do you have any Bible verses you used to write the song?

Psalm 91:11: "For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways."

...and Isaiah 55:8-9: "’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’"

…and Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

What does the song mean to you personally? How can listeners apply that message in their walk with God?

As parents--and Eli is less than 2 years old—we know that in the next few years we'll be teaching him about the Lord and hopefully living a life that exemplifies that. I think a good takeaway for this song is that as parents and friends we can only go so far, and God is the only One who can truly stand with us forever. That's important because there's going to be times where even as believers we might feel totally alone. All we have might be to cling to Him.

God really does have angels watching over us, and He'll never leave us or forsake us. That Romans 12:15 passage connects with me, because I've seen how my friends have lost relationships when they've gone through something messy in their lives. It's like sometimes we just want to be there for people in the easy stuff, and not the hard stuff. That's not what we're called to as believers. We're called to be there for each other in all circumstances, even hard stuff, and get our hands dirty and be in community with one another. It's not always something we want to do, but that's our calling.

I am grateful to know Tori, grateful to CNN for giving me the opportunity to surprise her on air, grateful to God for using music in profound ways beyond what we could ask or think! Let Tori's story remind you that God can use you no matter what you are going through. Her life has already impacted thousands, and who knows what God will do through you when you let Him?

Lyrics:
I can't say that everything's okay
'Cause I can see the tears you're crying
And I can't promise to take the pain away
But you can know I won't stop trying

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own

'Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side

I know it feels like you're running out of faith
'Cause it's so hard to keep believing, oh
But if I can bring the smile back to your face
For a moment you'll forget all about it, oh

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own

'Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side

'Cause this won't be the last time
You'll need a little hope
But I wanna be the first to let you know

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own

'Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side
Oh, let me be the angel, the angel by your side, oh
The angel by your side


Matthew Henry's commentary: "Rejoice with those that do rejoice, and weep with those that weep. Where there is a mutual love between the members of the mystical body, there will be such a fellow-feeling. True love will interest us in the sorrows and joys of one another, and teach us to make them our own. Observe the common mixture in this world, some rejoicing, and others weeping, for the trial, as of other graces, so of brotherly love and Christian sympathy. Not that we must participate in the sinful mirths or mournings of any, but only in just and reasonable joys and sorrows: not envying those that prosper, but rejoicing with them; truly glad that others have the success and comfort which we have not; not despising those that are in trouble, but concerned for them, and ready to help them, as being ourselves in the body."

This song is a "beautiful, beautiful" ballad with a catchy guitar part and features Francesca's gorgeous vocals. The balance of upbeat songs and ballads is a highlight of her album as the songs flow perfectly together to create one of those unique musical experiences that makes Hundred More Years a stellar album, one of my top 10 albums of 2011.

We should speak of God's wondrous work of redemption while we declare His greatness. It may be truly said of our Lord Jesus Christ that His words are words of goodness and grace. He is full of compassion and His mercies are new every morning. Francesca has really captured that truth in her gorgeous song. I sing along with this song and share that joy of knowing God will pick me up when I fall and His love for me is without condition. I loved how as I spoke with Francesca, she was close to her due date to deliver her second child. This song is a wonderful biblical truth to share with her child.

One argument Christians may make about this album is that the lyrics may in fact be too relatable to listeners. That would be a shame, as I was saved due to being hooked by the cross-over success of Jars of Clay's debut album, which introduced me to the Gospel, for which I'm eternally grateful. Francesca has that "it" factor that could draw literally millions of listeners to hear the Gospel truths of her music.

"Angel By Your Side" is a great reminder that God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and God's promise in Psalm 91:11: "For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways." Amen to that!

(You can watch Francesca meeting Tori on CNN 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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