Article

History of Hymns: “We Will Glorify” draws from psalms, Revelation

by C. Michael Hawn

“We Will Glorify the King of Kings”
Twila Paris
The Faith We Sing, No. 2087

Twila Paris

 

And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16)
And I saw no temple therein: for the LORD God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it
. (Revelation 21:22)

Fort Worth, Texas, native Twila Paris (b. 1958) is one of the leading Contemporary Christian artists of recent years. 

According to her website, Ms. Paris “has released 22 albums, amassed 33 number one singles, and was named the Gospel Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year an astounding three separate times.” She has received five Dove Awards, and three American Songwriter Awards. Several of her early songs including “He Is Exalted,” “Lamb of God,” “We Bow Down” and “We Will Glorify the King of Kings” are included in recent hymnals. 

Barry Alfonso notes in his Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music that, “Over the years, Paris has updated her Adult Contemporary sound to incorporate rock and New-Age music elements.” Unlike Amy Grant, she has not aimed for a secular crossover audience, but has focused on becoming a Praise and Worship artist. 

Ms. Paris comes from a family of ministers and musicians. Her great-grandparents were revival preachers in Arkansas and Oklahoma and her grandmother composed sacred songs. She was encouraged to sing in church from a young age by her father, who was also a minister and songwriter. Following graduation from high school and a year of study in a Bible school, Ms. Paris focused on singing and Christian composition. 

She and her husband, Jack Wright, have one child, born in 2001. They live in northwest Arkansas. 

As someone who has been in the profession for over two decades, Ms. Paris talks about how changes in her life have affected her compositions: 

“When God calls us to do something, even if we enter a new season in our lives, He finds a way to enable us. Yes, it’s a challenge, but it’s clear what God is doing, where He’s leading and what He’s enabling me to do. I have to be more intentional and disciplined about my songwriting now that I’m a mother. It’s not as spontaneous as it used to be, but the fact that I’ve been able to approach writing in a different way 20-plus years on and the fact that there are opportunities to record and do things in a fresh way, and that people are still listening, it’s like God is making a way—to quote Don Moen—and I believe He is doing just that. . . . So as long as the Lord keeps opening these doors, I’ll be faithful to walk through them.” 

By the time a contemporary Christian song finds its way into a denominational hymnal, it is usually considered to be a classic in this genre. In a musical style where some songs run their course fairly quickly, songs that continue in general use for over two decades reflect a staying power that is remarkable. “We Will Glorify” is one of several songs by Ms. Paris that has passed the test of time in a genre that typically appreciates the ephemeral. 

Several key terms such as “King of kings,” “Lord of lords,” and “Lamb” recall the book of Revelation, especially Revelation 17:14: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is LORD of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called, and chosen, and faithful.” The entire text may be seen at www.hughchou.org/ccm/tp_how.html

In addition to Revelation, language throughout the song is reminiscent of the psalms, especially psalms of praise. The Authorized King James Version sets the tone, especially with its focus on “Jehovah” and its hierarchical language of God on a throne, worshipped by those who bow before him. 

This is a song of exaltation and adoration as those assembled offer praise to the almighty God who is above all. The first-person plural language indicates that it is for a corporate worship gathering and the direction of the praise is from the singers toward God.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Hawn is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU.

Categories: History of Hymns