#830 - "Path of Sorrow" by All Sons & Daughters
Leslie Jordan uncovers the story of the poet who inspired this song of foundational truths.

Posted: June 13, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Poets & Saints, the latest release by All Sons & Daughters, was one of my Top 10 Worship Albums of 2016. "I Surrender" beautifully sets the tone with Leslie's and David's distinctive and emotive vocals. I'm really engaged by the deep, prayerful and vertical lyrics throughout this album that was inspired by poets and saints, including C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Newton, William Cowper, St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Augustine. 

If you like All Sons & Daughters' previous hit songs of worship, then you'll also enjoy this album. If you feel like many worship albums sound the same and you want to experience a fresh, deep, introspective and completely worshipful album, look no further than Poets & Saints. The standout songs are "Path of Sorrow," "My Roving Heart," "This My Inheritance," "Rest in You," "You Hold it All Together" and "I Surrender," which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite worship songs. I had the chance to speak with Leslie about "Path of Sorrow."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

The story of "Path of Sorrow" is interesting to me in how it came about, along with how the story of William Cowper is interesting. We found out about him in conjunction with John Newton. Most people know him from writing "Amazing Grace." The stories and experiences go hand in hand. We traveled to this little town where John Newton was a pastor after he found the Lord and gave up being part of the slave trade. God called him to the town of Olney, England. Someone came to him and said there was a young man who lived on the outskirts of town who was a poet and had a really hard life, and they believed a relationship with him would be beneficial. 

John Newton traveled out and met William Cowper, and they formed a really beautiful friendship. They wanted to start writing modern psalms for their church, so they started writing hymns together. In the Church of England at the time they weren't allowed to write songs that weren't psalms. In a year they wrote over 300 songs together and put them in a book called the Olney Hymns. When they wrote them, the Church of England said they couldn't sing them. They didn't have melodies, just lyrics. When they sang them, they were set to familiar pub melodies so that anyone in the town could sing along. 

We were so fascinated by that story we felt we had to dive more into William Cowper's story, which is tragic. He lost his family and battled depression and had multiple suicide attempts. You see this moment in his life with John Newton writing songs for the church as a bright spot for him, and at times it helped him emerge out of his depression and contribute in that way artistically and emotionally. It didn't get rid of his struggle, and he wrestled with all of those things, writing songs through it. In Olney we went to his house, which is now a museum. In the back of the house is his garden. He had a potting shed which he called his sulking shed where he would write songs. 

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Psalm 69:1-5 (NKJV): "Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause Are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully; Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it. O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You."

Psalm 63:4 (The Voice): "I will bless You with every breath of my life; I will lift up my hands in praise to Your name."

Psalm 42:7-8 (NKJV): "Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me--A prayer to the God of my life."
Psalm 73:26 (NIV): "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Psalm 121 (NKJV): "I will lift up my eyes to the hills--From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth..."

Psalm 130:1-2 (NKJV): "Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications."

What is the takeaway message?

I love the picture that Psalm 73 paints that in the middle of my heart and my flesh failing, God is my strength and my portion forever, which we reference in the song. We wanted this song to be a connection to William's suffering and sorrow. We spent time in the Olney Hymns and his personal writings and found this one stanza: "the path of sorrow, and that path alone, leads to the land where sorrow is unknown. No traveler ever reach that blessed abode thorns and briars in his road." Those thoughts bookend the song. It starts with the path of sorrow and ends with the thorns and briars. We started with that and connected it with Scripture. 

It's one of my favorite songs on the album. We are not strangers to writing fragile songs. Even though the lyrics may feel fragile, the bones of the song are so strong. For me, singing it every night, there is a constant presence of foundation in the song. I'm not sure I've had a song that speaks to me musically as much as lyrically simultaneously like this song. "I know God that You remain the same, even in my wandering." When things feel shaky for me, I know God is the solid foundation. It's a moving song to sing every night after "I Surrender." The posture of submission is beautiful and vulnerable, and then this song of foundation follows that song on the album. I've found that same journey to be true for me personally.

Along this path of sorrow
Along this winding road
I find myself travelling
Where sorrow is unknown

And chaos calls to chaos
Below the waterfalls
All Your waves crash o'er me
I'm crushed beneath it all

But I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

Sometimes I often wonder
If You have let me down
Why does it seem I walk alone
Where trouble finds me out

But sorrow as my company
I fix my eyes on You
Soon again I'll praise Your name
And feel my soul renewed

As I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

Oh I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

A traveler never reaches
That sacred place alone
A light to always guide you
Along the narrow road

So steadily I keep my stride
Through every briar and thorn
Although my flesh will falter
My hope is in the Lord

Because I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

Oh I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

Oh I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

Because I know, I know
You remain the same
Even in, even in
My wandering

"Path of Sorrow" beautifully captures the emotion of the biblical truth expressed in Psalm 42:7 (NKJV): "Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls, all Your waves and billows have gone over me." That prayerful language instills awe in us about how sovereign our God is. When we feel like we are on shaky ground and we are dealing with the uncertainty of our situations, the economy and our world, this song allows us to dwell on the unshakable nature of God. When all else fades away, He will remain. 

God knows every detail of our lives, and He already knows we feel discouraged or down on ourselves. That's a lie that the enemy is telling us. Worrying about measuring up and trying to be perfect are natural feelings. We're supposed to have imperfections to remind us of our need for our Healer and our Redeemer, Jesus. 

God is so good. He's for us and not against us. It is God who has made us beautiful, worthy and righteous. That's the hardest thing for fallen people to accept. Even in our weakness, God sees us as holy and righteous because of His Son, Jesus. If people can grasp that concept, they will be holy because of the overflow of God's love in them. That's the great news of the Gospel that you can celebrate by singing this song: "oh I know, I know, You remain the same, even in, even in my wandering." Amen to that!

Watch the music video below.


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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