Thursday, June 27, 2013

prayer minstrel series: Godfrey Birtill

I want to start a series on my blog. I will just call it my "prayer minstrel" series, but I have a feeling it will evolve into something more.
For the moment, I am compelled to share musicians and songwriters that have carried me throughout the years within their melodies and words. I love how music is an avenue for healing as it takes us straight into the arms of our Maker. I think it is quite clear in Scripture that the ministry of worship and song have a vital role in the lives of God's children. We all know David as the Psalmist, as well as the one who soothed Saul with his songs. The gift of song has that divine element to it to mend and renew the broken-hearted and burdened, as well deliver to them the very presence of the Lord. At the heart of who I am, I find this is my "mission." It's just a piece of His heart that He gave me. Over the years of investing my time and energy into sharpening my skills in music, I missed His presence. So, I let my dream of music go. When I encountered that surrender, I sensed a new peace in letting Him take up residence in my life. In those first steps of release, I couldn't have imagined where He was going to lead me. I would have been able to comprehend it then. It has been through so much loss, grieve, and incredibly deep heart-break that He has led me.Yet, through each painful sigh, He has been more of a Father to me than ever before. There is something lovely about grief and the way it blesses by humbling us into His arms.
 In my blog series, I want to chronicle the "prayer-minstrel" musicians who impart the sweet healings of the Holy Spirit through their songs. I don't like the term "worship-leader" because it takes away from the calling God places on those of us who create songs of His heart. To me, "prayer-minstrel" seems a better term to describe those who journey over miles to sing over God's people the abundance of His healing, the fullness of His presence, His fatherly kindness and comfort, and who He has made us through His Son. It is in the songs that lead us to the place we all need to go....the place of brokenness and soul-release. The place of tasting the complete loss of all things and embracing all that Christ is for us. Those songs that pierce your heart and bring the tears you have been wanting to release but didn't know how to let them. Those words that shower His favor over you in a dear, tender way.

I'd like to introduce my readers to Godfrey Birtill.

My memory fails me, but I believe I was around 14 or 15 years old when I had the opportunity to go to one of Godfrey Birtill's concerts in Shiprock, NM. I also had the pleasure to attend a worship/songwriting-seminar that he led there as well. It was a very significant moment in my teenage years as I was hungering for more of Christ. Godfrey originates from Lancashire, but now lives in Lincoln and travels leading worship throughout the UK. His early albums are rich recordings saturated in Scripture and calling out Life and Restoration in desert places. Much of his later work, unfortunately, does not hold this same depth and richness. Nevertheless, I still listen to and recommend several of his early albums: Outrageous Grace (Live in Penzance), Fertile Ground (Live in Cardiff), and Hold Me In (live in U.S.A.). His live recordings are raw, but there is something very satisfying in the simplicity of his worship songs.

 Every time I find myself strumming one of his pieces, I have to remember an old tip my vocal teachers taught me, "fire on the brain, ice on the heart." Of course, it rarely works with me. If my voice cracks because I am singing words I have known so well that my heart has wept them at intervals, well...I cannot mentally place ice on my heart to keep it from affecting my tear ducts.

 The words within his song are as fresh water to parched lips. They speak the lovely mission of the Holy Spirit to restore our souls to the joy of salvation in Christ. They are a reminder of the life of Christ indwelling these clay vessels. His music reminds me of many passages from Isaiah and, perhaps, that is why they resonate with me. You can hear the heart of Father through his soft, whispery vocals as they sing words of hope and renewal. There are four songs that really highlight this Biblical theme of restoration and grace in the midst of a land dried up and fruitless. I have listed them below. However, it is unfortunate that YouTube does not have a video for his song, Beautiful River.

 So, to the weary souls who are seeking rest, awaiting a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives to reach the bruised places of their heart, I pray these songs would be a refreshing nectar, uplifting and fulfilling.

Looking for Your presence
It's time to seek Your face
May the windows of heaven
Open up today

Let us flow with Your rhythm
The Spirit and the Word
And pick up your burdens
Walk the land and prayer...

Carrying you...Carrying you...
Into the city streets and homes
Carrying You...Carrying You
We hear the footsteps of the Lord.

Can Your heavy glory
Can Your heavy glory
Can Your heavy on me? 

Outrageous Grace
There’s a lot of pain but a lot more healing
There’s a lot of trouble but a lot more peace
There’s a lot of hate but a lot more loving
There’s a lot of sin but a lot more grace

Oh outrageous grace oh outrageous grace
Love unfurled by heaven’s hand
Oh outrageous grace oh outrageous grace
Through my Jesus I can stand

There’s a lot of fear but a lot more freedom
There’s a lot of darkness but a lot more light
There’s a lot of cloud but a lot more vision
There’s a lot of perishing but a lot more life

There’s an enemy
That seeks to kill what it can’t control
It twists and turns
Making mountains out of molehills
But I will call on my Lord
Who is worthy of praise
I run to Him and I am saved

 Fertile Ground

 Over the dead of the desert
Will come the rivers flow,
Into the cover of darkness
The brightest light will show.
Out of the womb of the morning
Will come your youth like dew,
After the pain and the groaning
Comes celebration news.

This is the time, this is the day,
The past behind,
New life embraced.
No longer desolate,
Let this be fertile ground
Where children of the promise are found,
Where children of the promise are found

I hear the Lord say to my Lord:
'Come sit at my right hand -
Until the enemies crumble
Under your command.
All of Your troops will be willing
Upon the battle day;
See now Your army arising,
In majesty arrayed'.

Beautiful River
You flowered into my wilderness
Your crystal waters gave me rest
I found my peace upon Your shores
For lesser things I thirst no more

You make me want to laugh and cry
You make me want to dance and bow
You make me want to shout and sigh
Overwhelmed by Your beauty

Na na na, Na na na, Na na na
Beautiful river

You turn the bitter waters sweet
Of every sour stream You meet
Polluted mind and stagnant soul
Are purified in Your control

I love the loveliness I see
In river bend and waterfall
I plunge my life into the deep
And from Your depth I live in awe


  1. "There is something lovely about grief and the way it blesses by humbling us into His arms."~ I agree very much. It's so comforting to know He is with us and understands all the things we're going through. And I like Godfrey's voice, hm, it's rich and soothing. I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing the rest of your series!

    1. I am glad you enjoy his songs. :) Thank you for your encouraging comment.