The Blessing That Swept a World in Pain.
The widespread popularity of the song titled ‘The Blessing’ is the kind of viral infection we actually did need last year. The sung version of the blessing from Numbers 6: 24-26 is deeply moving, yet somehow uplifting. Christianity Today writes that “Just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the US, Kari Jobe held a songwriting session with her husband, Cody Carnes, and Elevation Worship’s Steven Furtick and Chris Brown. Together, they set to music one of the Bible’s best-known benedictions, Numbers 6:24–26.” The song seems to have connected with individuals of faith all over the world in a viral spread of the internet variety, but what has made it so popular, and why now particularly?
The words. The words to this song are beautiful in their simplicity and sincerity. One of the collaborating artists involved in the composition of ‘The Blessing’ Kari Jobe of Elevation Worship, explains that it is “straight from scripture.” She also says that it is “the heart of the Father over us, as His kids.” Versions of the very same words have been used in church liturgy for centuries, so we know the words are good, they are His, and they mean something special. The words in the New Living Translation is as follows:
24 ‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
The words are beautiful and full of hope, but the context of the scripture is interesting also. The verse before this blessing reads: “The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:’” Therefore, the blessing was from God to His chosen people, the Israelites. Fortunately, we are also chosen and loved by God as His children and can claim His blessings too. The scripture then continues. Verse 27 reads, “so they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
It is often said that there is power in His name and this verse confirms it. God put His name in this blessing like a signature or a seal to authenticate it. He approves of us; He loves us, and He wants to be gracious to us and bless us. What excellent news. At this time when so much has been damaged and lost, it puts into perspective for us all what blessings truly mean. To be blessed is something no one can earn or buy for themselves. Blessings are a gift and especially now while so many are struggling, we could all use a generous portion of His blessings in our lives.
With the extreme popularity and viral nature of this song, it’s no wonder there have been so many versions of it. The melody of the song is calming in itself but the harmonies and variations in the parts is what makes this song truly unique. The original version from Elevation Worship can be found here and the passion with which this is sung is genuinely moving. The beautiful harmonies sung, particularly in the chorus and bridges of the song are beautiful and make it sound like an impassioned cry to heaven.
Other versions are just as beautiful in a quieter way. The UK blessing was a collaboration of over 65 churches and Christian movements. Released on May 3rd last year, It exhibits the wonderful, divine diversity in our great nation. With people of every race, age and denomination included in this collaborative work, it is truly inspiring. The patchwork effect of the combination of different styles is particularly striking. The Kingdom Choir and a Salvation Army quartet provided stunning arrangements which blend beautifully with the single voices of many others. The words may be simple, but the limit to variations in the musical arrangements does not seem to exist for this song. It is equally as powerful as a heartfelt acoustic duet, or a choir arrangement with eight-part harmony. That’s what makes this song so special.
The truth is that as Christians we are bound to bless others. We want others to be happy and have what they need as well as ourselves. That, of course includes our children, our families and our friends, but it should also include those we aren’t close with, or even those we don’t know. Words have power and many faiths and creeds accept that sending out positivity can create or attract positive things.
Many churches are now using this simple, yet meaningful song in their worship already. It also crops up on the Alexa playlist for Christian praise and worship often. When you hum along or sing the words, consider those who have no one to sing or say a blessing over them. Those who may have faith but are isolated from others. Or those who do not yet know God but seek to live by His word. Think of those who would never think to ask for blessings themselves but deserve His bounty. These people need blessings as much as our own families. Pray for our whole nation, for its future and for the generation growing up in confusion and isolation. Pray a blessing over your churches and towns. Pray it over our healthcare professionals, teachers and civil servants. Be generous with your blessings in the hope that God will be also.
Tim Hughes told Premier that “the church is never about a building. The church is for its community, and so it adapts. The church doesn’t just proclaim these words over its community, it demonstrates it.” At JBKS Architects, we know that the purpose of the Christian faith is to spread His word, share His love and to serve others. Whoever and wherever you are, we pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you. That He will make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. We pray that He will turn His face towards you and give you peace. Amen.