(photo by Taya Gray: Iraqi nativity made from oil barrels)
In exactly five months, Christmas will be here, and so I thought today was the perfect excuse to give you a sneak peek of one of the songs from my upcoming Christmas record.
The idea driving the project was to write songs either to or from key characters in the Christmas narrative, looking for a way into the story through those who lived it. After time spent reflecting on the part each of them played, I listened–curious about what they might tell me about themselves and even what they might tell me about me. My time spent with them was rewarding, and in their stories I saw my own story surface repeatedly. That’s how it works, isn’t it? We find we are never all that different from one another—no matter where or when we come from.
I had several ideas for the story of the wise men, but one day when Joel Hanson and I were working on an entirely different song, I started noodling around, playing this little guitar progression that seemed to be asking for our attention. We followed it and it led us to this song.
It didn’t feel like a Christmas song, and that’s what I loved about it. Sometimes I think a Christmas record can feel like it’s not a real record, like it’s an artist’s side project. Early on I knew that I wanted this to feel like a real record with real songs, and as “Easier” started to unfold, I loved that it felt, in my estimation, like a real song.
It was the first one written for the record, and also one of the last to get done. After a strong start, I ended up writing pages and pages and pages of lyrics for the middle section, looking for just the right thing. There were times I despaired over it and many times I wondered about abandoning it altogether. But after many hours and many, many drafts, I’m grateful for what it is. I also love what everybody involved gave to it, making it one of my personal favorites on the record. I hope you like it!
I imagine a growing uneasiness as the wise man gets closer to his destination. They have come bearing gifts for the newborn King. But are these the gifts that the child would most desire? Might he wish for something more precious than gold, frankincense, and myrrh? He receives and honors all gifts, of course. But he also honors the gift giver by counting them as greater than any gift they could bring.
Easier (Song of The Wiseman)
Jason Gray and Joel Hanson
It’s easier to give a gift of gold
Than to give my heart for another to hold
It’s easier to give you the things I do
Than to open my life and let you walk through
Do I hide behind my offerings
While you’re hoping for the heart of me?
Am I the only gift
That you long for me to give?
The weary wisdom of broken men
Says it’s only the fool who rushes in
Only the fool
So it’s easier to give you only a part
Than risk giving away my whole heart
It’s easier, yeah, easier
Overcome by innocence
My wisdom becomes foolishness
Before the tiny babe
Born to give himself away
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming!
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand
Fall on your knees
Fall on your knees
The conqueror comes in peace
Only a child could heal the wound
Of the fear that keeps me away from you
Only a child, only a child
He was only a child, only a child