Chris Tomlin has written music for most of his life, but his style changed radically when he started leading worship. “I write a lot of songs,” he says of his songwriting style, “but not many ever make it to the recording stage. That’s because I’m always asking the question ‘Would people want to sing this?’”
As it happens, “Forever,” a song of praise for the enduring nature of God’s love that took Chris four years to complete, has become one of those songs that people just can’t seem to stop singing. The idea for the sweeping refrain of the verses came easily enough, but the wide, thrumming chorus was harder to work out. It never left his mind, though.
You can find "Forever on Chris Tomlin's album The Noise We Make."
“Every time we went into the studio to record something,” Chris remembers, “I would bring that song in hopes that someone else would be able to come up with a chorus. I write a lot of patches of songs and then collaborate with someone else to finish them out. With this song it never happened, and it just didn’t feel complete. Then one day, four years later, it just came. I was sitting there and singing, ‘Forever God is faithful, forever God is…’ and I couldn’t come up with the next word. Then our bass player’s wife, Janet, stuck her head in the door and said ‘strong.’ And just like that, it clicked.”
Perhaps best known as a worship leader for the Passion conferences, Chris has been building a strong foundation of worship at college campuses around the country for years. His approach to songwriting, performing and worship is simple. Taking a cue from John the Baptist
, he insists that we should all decrease so Christ can increase. “The larger our platform becomes, the more intentionally we have to focus on the heart of our calling: to introduce people to God and show them his glory.” It seems that “Forever” has done just that. It still thrills Chris to see people in worship and to hear them singing the song. “I’m so used to being a teacher—teaching people my songs, that it still blows me away that people know it so well,” Chris says. “They’re like ‘Come on, let’s get on with it.’”
Chris’ passionate, transcendent music and worshipful abandon have made a connection with people everywhere, and are refreshing to many who are looking for something more authentic. “The gift God has given me is to write things that are simple and connect with people really quickly,” says Chris. “When God is the focus of something people are drawn to it. That’s what I want myself and my songs to be a part of.” And he’s quick to point out that the credit and glory belongs to God. “I have to keep asking myself the question, ‘How is this going to bring God glory? How am I going to use this to bring God glory?’” Even so, he does admit that it’s exciting to hear others perform “Forever.” He says, “It’s sort of a validation of the song to hear someone else do it, and to know that they’re moved by it as well.”
--J. Gary Walker