Gloria is a song off the new record NEED. As I was writing for the record,
I was digging back into a lot of these old hymn lyrics. There is so much
richness found there. So one night, I had one of my good friends Chris
Collins over to work on co-writing some stuff. We had written a couple of
songs together years ago, one you might be familiar with called Grace Like
Rain. So this particular night we are talking and flipping through some old
hymnals I’ve collected, and Chris speaks up. He said, “I’ve never heard
this song but I love this title.” I looked down and saw “Praise My Soul,
the King of Heaven”.
I have been intrigued for a while by the idea of instructing ourselves,
commanding our own souls to obey. The most prominent passage on this is
found in Psalm 103:1,
“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!”
David tells his own soul to bless the Lord. It’s a good reminder that we
even have to remind ourselves to praise God. We have to push ourselves,
because He is always worthy of more than we are going to bring. And this
line in the hymn is a similar command. We are commanding our souls to praise
the King of heaven. We are demanding it for His glory.
Here are some thoughts from the great preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on this topic: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.
Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’…
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’– what business have you to be disquieted?
You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”
–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965/2002), 20-1.
The story of the writing part of Gloria isn’t that exciting. We tried some melodies
and guitar parts. As usual with Chris, I took one of his guitar parts and
built the song around that. And then the producers took that guitar part
out, so it’s not in there anymore. The only other thing I remember doing is
changing some of the words to the chorus. The main exclamation in the
chorus is Hallelujah, but I figured after Grace Like Rain and Our Great God
that we had enough Hallelujahs for a while. I tried to think of another
word that says the same kind of thing but isn’t used as often. I remembered
the word Gloria. Another friend and I had been talking about how that word
isn’t used as often today. So we put that in there, and hopefully it works
well. I liked changing the words to each chorus like it does in the hymn,
but for simplicity’s sake, in the end, we left them the same.
And that’s the story of Gloria, as best as I can remember it.