why you and your church need the creation-cross song You Grew The Tree

by Bobby Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings,Songwriting/Hymn Workshop,Worship Leading

Fig Leaves liturgical  artwork by Sojourn visual artist Alan ValesLots of good people may die for a cause. Lots of people, caught in a moment of danger and the rush of adrenaline, have thrown themselves in front of harm’s way for a loved one or innocent bystander, whether in the form of a bullet, a car, a falling object, or something else. And that is heroic. ¬†But if you want a worship song that demonstrates how much forethought and intentionality went into Jesus’ sacrifice, then listen and sing along on the modern hymn “You Grew The Tree,” and learn to play it for your church family.

He grew the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which his body hung”
— F. W. Pitt.

The Bible teaches that Christ was present and active in the creation of all things (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), and that he holds the universe together (1 Corinthians 1:17 & 8:6; Hebrews 1:3). He rules creation. This power of course extends to the very tree used to make the old, rugged cross. In fact Christ demonstrated his power over a tree just days before the crucifixion, causing it to wither under his curse (Mark 11:12-14; 20-22).

Not only did He let the crucifixion tree grow, from seed to tree, but he sustained the entire world through the ages, knowing all along that he would have to hang on that tree as the ultimate curse (Galatians 3:13) for our sins.

  • The Son knew it in his fellowship with Father and Spirit from before the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
  • He knew it when Adam and Eve brought the curse of sin into the world in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15).
  • He knew it in the establishment of the Covenant with Abraham, when God bound Himself to offer restitution if either he or our fallen race broke the covenant (Genesis 15:9-18).
  • He knew it as the prophets testified throughout the Old Testament of his coming and atonement, such as in Isaiah 53 — Christ would be led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53).
  • He knew it as he walked with his disciples throughout his earthly ministry (Luke 9:21-22).

And again, none of this was simply foreknowledge of events outside of his control. Know one could take his life — he freely gave it (John 10:18). All of this is why we sing to Jesus:

You knew what to expect,
The untold misery;
I’m facedown at the thought of it —
That still you grew the tree!

Kristen and I wrote the “You Grew The Tree” verses in “Short Hymn Meter,” (lines of 6.6.8.6 syllables), one of the three most common meters because it is strong, direct and simple. Then we gave it a melody that we believe is catchy and easy to sing.

The short but weighty verses tell the story I’ve outlined in this article, and then they give way to a pre-chorus that builds toward a simple chorus, an emotional crescendo:

You grew the tree! You grew the tree!
You knew what we’d do, and still you grew the tree

We’ll release “You Grew The Tree” next Tuesday as part of the new, free Kristen Gilles EP The Whole Big Story. You’ll be able to download it for free right here on My Song In The Night or Noisetrade.com/kristengilles.

Get the chord sheet and watch Kristen demonstrate how to play You Grew The Tree on rhythm guitar, here.

{ 1 comment }

Mark Snyder April 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

These are profound lyrics. Great job!

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