BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#979 - "Defender" by Francesca Battistelli
Francesca shares the story behind her latest radio single.
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #979 -
Posted: July 10, 2019 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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The smash hit, "Free to be Me," from Francesca Battistelli's certified Gold debut album, My Paper Heart, hooked me with its emotional and biblical messages. This and every song after that. In fact, "Free to be Me" was the 39th song I featured in my "Behind the Song" devotional article, a series I've committed to since March 2008. 

I've since featured many more of Franny's songs, like "Write Your Story," "He Knows My Name," "If We're Honest," and "Giants Fall." And, now, this is our 15th devotional together, making Francesca the most featured female artist over the past eleven years and 979 song devotionals. These songs showcase Francesca's gifts as a songwriter. This devotional features her latest single, "Defender."

I'm always excited to hear new music from Francesca. Her latest offering, Own It, was my Top Album of 2018. This album was preceded by "The Breakup Song," as a radio single. The musical vibe of that song sets the tone for this exceptional album, which is not be missed. 

Franny has once again captivated me, as Own It features her unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." Her Grammy winning recording of "Holy Spirit" displays her heart for worship. Francesca has recently released the worshipful song "Defender" as a radio single. I had the chance to speak with her about the song.


Please tell me the personal story behind the song.

I actually didn't write "Defender." I heard it for the first time on Rita Springer's 2017 album, Battles. She wrote the song with Steffany Gretzinger and John-Paul Gentile. Rita's been my favorite worship leader for many years. I didn't know Steffany helped write the song until recently. 

I met Rita not long after her album released. She came and sang at my church. Rita asked me to sing with her that night, which was a dream moment for me. After that night, our church started leading more of her songs. I was leading worship a lot and I started leading this song at our church. It's one of those songs that, from the very beginning, I was so taken by the lyrics. 

Every time I lead "Defender," it is a special moment. This new single has meant a lot to me. I remember telling my husband that I'd like to record this song on one of my albums someday. And there was a moment where I decided to record this song for Own It, which is more of a pop album. And when I started to think through the song selections, my husband suggested we reach out to Steffany and see if she'd like to sing this song with me. She said yes.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Exodus 14:13-14 (NLV): "But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Be strong, and see how the Lord will save you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is keep still."
 
Psalm 46: 9-11 (NLT): "He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world." The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress."
 
Psalm 18:39 (NIV): "You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me."

Psalm 55:18 (NIV): "He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me."

2 Chronicles 20:17 (NIV): "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'"

Romans 8:28 (NIV): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Romans 8:31 (NLT): "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
 
1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV): "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us."

What is the takeaway message?

When I first heard heard Rita sing the words in the pre-chorus, "All I did was praise/All I did was worship/All I did was bow down," it hit me like a ton of bricks. That concept comes from Exodus 14:14 which says, "The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is keep still." That is the theme of this song. I love the idea that all we have to do is stay still while He fights our battles. I had always known it intellectually, but that was the first time I knew it in my spirit. 

There's so much in our culture that says we need to be on the go all of the time. Even in the church, we think we need to always be doing something. God values hard work and we should serve others. But, there's also something to the idea of being still and surrendering to God. I trust Him to fight this battle in my life. There have been many times where I've needed to do that in my life. 

We need to submit to Him and admit that things we are facing are bigger than ourselves. I have His power inside of me. So I'm not worried about the enemy. God always comes through. There is something so special about "Defender," and I'm honored to sing it.
 
Lyrics:
You go before I know
That You've even gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory, oh

You go before I know
That You've even gone to win my war
Your love becomes my greatest defense
It leads me from the dry wilderness

And all I did was praise
All I did was worship
All I did was bow down, oh
All I did was stay still

Hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better Your way
Hallelujah, great Defender
So much better Your way

You know before I do
Where my heart can seek to find Your truth
Your mercy is the shade I'm living in
And You restore my faith and hope again

And all I did was praise, oh
All I did was worship
All I did was bow down, oh
All I did was stay still, stay still

Hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better Your way
Hallelujah, great Defender
So much better Your way

When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

Hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better this way
Hallelujah, great Defender
So much better Your way
So much better Your way
I know it's so much better
So much better Your way
I know it, I know it

And all I did was praise
All I need to do is worship
Lord, I will just bow down
I'm just gonna stay still


Closing Thoughts

Own It showcases Franny's gifts as a songwriter. It also showcases her shimmering, emotion-laden voice. She is a great role model for girls. And this album is loaded with positive, grace-filled messages of hope. Franny's songs address the pressures of life and she understands that her true happiness and identity only come from her relationship with God. 

I'm very impressed by Own It. I feel like we're getting to hear more and more of Francesca's personal story and where she's coming from as a fellow believer in Christ. In particular, throughout the album, there are many different expressions about the Lord, about Who He is, and what He is doing in our lives. I know personally that I am in a better mood after I finish listening to her album, as it transforms negative things I am thinking about myself to the truth of what God thinks.
 
I'm moved by the prayerful song, "Defender," which features Bethel Music's Steffany Gretzinger. The single proclaims a heart's cry to worship our defender, Jesus. This is a wonderful song of encouragement and a prayer to ask God to break our pride, live redemption's story and move closer to who we're meant to be in Christ. This song is a great prayer and answer to that call. 

What is one area in your life that you feel God may be calling you to exercise faith and live out the words of this song? God wants us to know that He's faithful to complete what He's started in all of us who have put our hope and trust in Jesus. The song represents life. And, it includes some great challenges to step out in faith and trust in God--even when you want to give up or can't see where you're going. You aren't the source of the power to overcome your challenges. In our weakness, God's strength is perfect. Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us?
 
"Defender" represents the victory that we have over our battles before we even know the earthly outcome. This is done by simply trusting that God goes before us and wins. We can face our daily battles with more courage and strength because we know that whatever the outcome, based on His promise in Romans 8:28, "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." 

You can sincerely pray these words of this song along with Francesca and Steffany. It is a moving offering of praise to Jesus. His love is never-ending. And He is our refuge and our strength. If you're looking for a firm foundation in your life, make these lyrics your personal prayer: "Hallelujah, You have saved me/So much better Your way/Hallelujah, great Defender/ So much better Your way." Amen to that.

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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