Twila Paris: God Shed His Grace
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Senior Producer
“God is in Control”. “True North”. “The Warrior is a Child”. Christian music legend Twila Paris sang the eternal truths of these songs, impacting generations. Now, the singer/songwriter is releasing some of her favorite songs, along with new recordings, on her latest album, God Shed His Grace: Songs of Truth and Freedom.
This God-glorifying and patriotic project is especially close to Paris’ heart, as evident in a recent chat with CBN.com. Here are excerpts of that conversation:
On growing up in faith-friendly America…
Twila Paris: I was born in the very last few days of 1958. So when I was in school, in elementary school in Springdale, Arkansas, it was still a time when we all prayed together before we marched down to cafeteria for lunch. Even when I was in junior high, I remember the Bible being read over the intercom. When I was in high school choir we sang all sorts of Christian songs, sacred classical songs. We would perform The Messiah.
No one ever had any issue with any of that. There was a commonly-held understanding which had been in place for almost 200 years in this country, at that point, that we did collectively believe in and honor God. We considered ourselves a Christian nation, and that in no way conflicted with the First Amendment. As a matter of fact, it was the foundation for the First Amendment.
On why making God Shed His Grace was important to do now…
Paris: This project is not a greatest hits project. I had just this growing deep concern for our nation, and for the direction that we've been headed in, and for the fact we've been heading away from that very foundation that has made us great, that has made a special, and has given us the blessing and protection of God from the beginning.
So I just wanted to gather up these songs that I felt would be encouragement for Christian patriots. Many of them are just faithfully standing where God has called them. Many of them are sacrificially standing where God has called them to stand. Graciously and lovingly, and uncompromisingly declaring His truths, and being salt and light in what at times seems to be an ever darkening culture.
On the historical hymn "God of Our Father"...
Paris: It’s our national hymn. And I think I first became aware of it, as strange as it sounds, when they played it at Ronald Reagan's funeral.
[A line in the song] says, “Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.” I would get to that part of the song, and I would just sort of breakdown, and I don't mean I would start bawling in the service, but I would kind of choke up and not be able to sing it, because I would think, “That's not true anymore.” It's not as true as it used to be. It's becoming less true.
All of us, we want to be like John 1 says, "Full of grace and truth,” as people who are called to reflect Christ. And if Christ who was full of grace and truth is alive in us, then we should be where we want to be gracious, and yet take those moments to ask for God's wisdom to be able to in a winning way to speak God's truth in a way that might just turn on a light in someone's heart.
It represents the beginning of our nation. Here's who we are. Here's how we began. Here's our start. This followed right up by "True North", which is a statement of, "We've gotten away from that.” And how do we get back to where we are supposed to be?
On how D-Day inspired “What Did He Die For”...
Paris: I grew up thinking of World War II as ancient history. Then it hit me somewhere along the line, maybe when I was about 30, all of a sudden I did the math and I was like, wow, I was only born 13 years after the end of World War II. You realize that so many things that you thought were so long ago and people that you thought were so old, are actually very, very close to you on the timeline.
When we had the 50th anniversary, there was a period there several days where they were playing so much footage, and a lot of it I had never seen before, from World War II, and specifically from D-Day in Normandy Beach. I remember sitting there in my living room, and it hit me. I saw these young guys are like 18, 19, 20. So many of them never came home, and ended their lives in horrible ways there on that beach and, of course, in other places, and then other young men, and even other young women in other wars. But D-Day was the catalyst for me to sort of begin to get that.
I thought they did that for me. They never knew me. I wasn't born yet, and yes you could say well, they did that for America. They did it because they love their country, but my answer is then, “Yes, but I'm an American, and on some very real level they did that for me.” What in the world do I do to deserve that? Why would I ever deserve that?
I just broke down and started weeping. I had never made that connection before somehow in such a personal way. So then the obvious question that the song asks is, “What did He die for when He died for me?”
The first verse is about the American soldier. But the second verse… as a Christian you immediately think well, there was another young man who also gave His life so that I could be free… so that I could have eternal life. What do I do with that life that He has given me? What do I do with that freedom that He's given me?
On her hope for God Shed His Grace as she looks to our nation’s future...
Paris: When you look back over our history and really study it, and really know it, you start to realize God breathed the breath of life into this nation as surely as He did into Adam. He had a hand in the founding of this nation and in the protection, and thus becoming who we’ve become.
Because we are a Republic, we are the rulers, and so we are the ones who are responsible. We the people. We are responsible for the direction of this nation whether it is toward God or away from Him. If this nation is moving away from Him, then we are collectively responsible for that.
My hope in this album is that for some who have maybe been a little complacent, it might spur us to action. My hope is just that more and more people will be encouraged where they're standing. I really hope that this music will be a catalyst and maybe an environment for a context in which people can hear God's specific voice instruction to them about how we think, pray, and act, in order to be salt and light in this culture and in this nation, and in the world.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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