Doug Horley: A song-by-song rundown of his 'We Want To See Jesus Lifted High' album

Thursday 1st August 1996

British children's worker and worship songwriter DOUG HORLEY talks us through the tracks on his new album

Doug Horley
Doug Horley

I sometimes wish I just wrote children's songs, or just wrote adult worship songs because it would be so much easier then to stick a label on what I do. But I just write whatever God puts on my heart! And so this album is a mixture of chart style dance tracks, fun children's songs, up-tempo praise, ballads, quiet worship songs, a touch of U2 and some experimental tracks. As well as doing some great singing, Vanessa Freeman (from Noel Richards' band), co-wrote some of the tracks and Mark Edwards (Aztec Camera) did some great programming. Five tracks were programmed with Mark and boy did we have a lot of fun doing that! And 11 tracks were recorded with a live band at West Park featuring Mark, Terl Bryant (lona's drummer) and Phil Barker on bass. I wanted it to be fun and I wanted it to lead people to God. And I wanted it to be so much more than a bland "family" album. See what label you'd stick on it!

"Who's In The House"
I loved this Carman rap song from the moment I heard it. It goes down a treat live too, particularly with my band!

"This Is The House Of God"
With this song I set out to produce a chart sound. I had precisely one line of the song when I went into the studio, although I knew exactly the kind of sound I wanted. And so while Mark Edwards worked on the programming at Rainbow Studios in Brighton, I sat in the studio kitchen with Vanessa and we played around with some ideas and wrote this song. Great fun!

"I'm Gonna Build My House"
The thing that struck me about the story of the man who built his house on rock was that Jesus said it's as we put his words into action that we build a strong foundation in our lives. There have been loads of musical versions of that parable, but it was that "call to action" I wanted to convey in the midst of Paul Warwick's hilarious wacky voices that had me rolling around West Park studios in hysterics.

"Let's Make God Happy With The Way We Live Our Daily Lives"
This is a spiritual warfare song! God's love is unconditional and he loves us whatever we do, but every one of us faces choices everyday. Loads of little choices to go God's way or not. I firmly believe that spiritual warfare is a part of Christian life but I don't believe it starts with mega battles for cities and nations. I believe that as we make choices for God throughout each day we are engaging in spiritual warfare. And as we win battles in little areas that we often think are unimportant we will earn the right to battle for bigger issues.

"I Wanna Be A Blooming Tree"
No, I don't have a secret desire to become a rhododendron! And neither did I get sponsored for the line "Bright colours like daisys more fruit than Sainsburys"! This was written as a fun song to teach about the fruits of the Spirit. The first line, "I wanna be a tree that's bearing fruit/That God has pruned and caused to shoot" is an interesting one. How many people have felt that sense of God's pruning recently? It can be quite tough! You may have also noticed by now that I like the words wanna and gonna!

"Come To The Father"
It started with a riff! I had the intro riff for ages before I found a use for it. I love James 4 v8 - "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." Sometimes it can be so hard to find God and I believe these verses are a promise from our Heavenly Dad that if we take faltering steps towards him he'll rush to us. My children have sometimes run to me, thrown their arms round me and said 'I love you dad.' And when they do that I can't stand there waving my arms in the air and wondering what to do with them! I throw my arms around them in return. And I believe that's exactly what God does. I love the U2 guitar outro, but I suppose the fact that I played it would make me a little biased!

"Hands Hands Fingers Thumbs"
My kids brought home a book with this title and I thought; 'Now that would make a good song.' I use it all the time at
Praise Parties and it goes down a storm. Great hammond organ from Mark E!

"Lift His Name High"
Hardly the world's most original title, but it is what I want to see happen. I want people to know that Jesus is good news! This song had been in my song file for years and I'd just never got around to doing anything with it. Vanessa came with the introduction vocal line in the studio which brings a powerful sense of worship right from the start. Dave Fitzgerald's flute playing is seriously anointed. Boy, can that guy play!

"I Wanna Be Out Of My Depth In Your Love"
I was at a Pioneer leaders event when Peter Lynne brought a prophetic word about getting out of our depth in God's love. He linked it to Ezekiel 47 where the prophet wades into a river ankle deep, then knee deep, etc. Pete was encouraging us to jump in with both feet and immerse ourselves in God's love, it's funny how phrases jump out and grab us sometimes, and that's exactly what this one did and I wrote this "adult" worship song soon after. Noel Richards has been using it for the last nine months and it has been great to see people blessed by it. The song talks about letting go of the things we find our security in and putting all our trust in God. In fact, when I first wrote the song the line was "starting to trust in you". I worked on the words with Noel and his comment was, 'We have all started to put our trust in God, the challenge is putting all our trust in him.' Easier said than done! And you're right -another attack of the "I wanna's"!

"We Want To See Jesus Lifted High"
I wrote this back in 1992.1 was praying in my office one morning and I had this clear picture of a banner flying high in the sky with Jesus' name on it. And it's as we tell our friends about Jesus, as we make choices for God, that we lift that banner higher and people will come to see that Jesus represents life, healing, power and transformation. I first sung the song at an activity week that my home church, Generation, ran that summer. However, it was at least 18 months before the song was picked up by Noel and started to travel around the country and overseas. And interestingly enough it was quite hard to get Noel to try it out. He gets so many songs passed to him that he'd go bananas if he tried them all! And it's hard and very frustrating when you have a song you really think works and you can't get it further than your local church! And it's also hard to know when you're being too pushy. That's when we need people around us to tell us if our latest offering is completely naff, a song for the moment, or just for local church, or maybe really is good enough for a wider audience. My "font" of all knowledge is my wife Belinda, who is excellent at telling me that my latest pride and joy is a load of twaddle. But she liked this one and suggested I pursue Noel. And eventually Noel did try it. First with his local church, Pioneer People, and then around the country. And a big factor in the success of the song was Noel. So thanks mate! And four years later it was quite amazing on May 25th this year to realise that 15 million people around the world were singing it. And it all started in my front room in Ewell - a place that most people have never heard of and certainly can't usually spell! It's also quite funny that by the time the rest of the country has discovered your song and is getting excited about singing it, your home church has sung it to death and got completely bored with it! Mark Edwards came up with the idea of the South American fiesta feel to it. Noel had done a rocky version on 'Warrior' and I'd done a rocky version on 'Jesus Is The Boss' so I wanted something different. The problem was what? And then Mark woke up in the middle of the night with this brainwave. Raul D'Olivera's trumpet work on it is fantastic.

"Hold Onto The Promises Of God"
Quite a few of my songs have come out of local church life and teaching and this is one of them. And when it is "Tough and hard in your back yard" as the song says, often all we can do is fall back onto God's promises, both scriptural and prophetic. I do seem to end up in trouble for some of the words I use in songs. "Great great brill brill wicked wicked skill skill" did wonders for Kingsway's mailbag! And I had a long debate with them about using the word "circumcised" in this song. It is fair to say that when I first sung this song at our family meeting half the elders fell off their chairs, but it is a biblical word, and perhaps it might help promote family discussion!

"I've Got A Wobbly Tooth"
Full of deep spiritual truths song - not! But the tooth extraction sound effects are great fun. I did this song at Spring Harvest 8-11 's programme and had a load of children come up to me afterwards wanting points for the wobbly teeth they'd pulled out during the song!

"You're A Child Of God"
This is a fun song with lots of wacky sound effects. So often we want to get things right and all we manage to do is stuff up time after time! And that can make us feel completely worthless. But the truth is though that God loves us whether we get it right or wrong and we're never a "wilf or a wally" (as the song says) in his eyes.

"There Is A God"
Yes there is, which is quite encouraging really! I wrote this with Belinda and Penny Roberts after chatting to a friend of mine who was really going through it at the time. Vanessa did a brilliant job on vocals on the powerful Marie Careyish ballad.

"God Is For You"
At the Waves Of The Spirit conference at Bournemouth in February I was prayed for by a couple from John and Carol Arnott's team. And much of what they prayed was to do with God's approval of me and the fact that he was pleased with me and with my faithfulness. Few prophecies have blown my mind as much as that one. The fact that God actually approves of me really shook me up as I'd kinda lived not really believing that he could really approve of me when I fail so much. This song came out of that. The initial idea was based around a Nirvana style guitar riff. Then Mark pointed out that it wasn't a Nirvana style riff, it was a Nirvana riff(!), so I scrapped the whole melody and retreated to the kitchen with Vanessa to start again! And what came out was much better! And I love the atmospheric Riverdance start and Vanessa's ad libs over the dance track ending. I hope it moves you as much as it does me. If you're serious about God then remember he's for you, not against you!

"Worship Adventure"
This was fun. I wanted to experiment; I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be creative. Those words normally send my wife into a flat panic cos some of my "creative" ideas are completely loony. I had one melody line and no lyrics and I explained the kind of idea I had in mind to the band and we hit the record button and went for it. Most of the backing track was done in one take and we then experimented with overdubs and vocal lines. Terl's drumming is simply wicked!

"Let's Bring A Little Heaven To Earth"
Okay, so we want to make a difference in this world. Well, where do we start? was the premise for this song. And I feel strongly that if we're gonna (there's that word again!) change the world we start where we are. Making choices for God each day. Listening to him and obeying him. Even/time. Not just when it suits us or we feel like it. Taking opportunities to be good news, not just talking about being good news. I'm still working towards that, but it's my aim. I scrapped the whole original melody I had painstakingly written because when I listened to Celine Dion's "Real Emotion" I decided I wanted to go for that kind of chart sound and I'm really pleased with the result. Originally the song was going to kick off the second side, but then Les Moir (executive producer, ie, the boss!) suggested that it would be good to finish the album with a challenge. Because we can make a difference. It won't happen automatically and it may be really tough at times, but we really can bring a little heaven to earth. Let's do it! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Erick in Kuwait @ 10:06 on Jun 4 2012

Hi, Finally I was able to see Doug Horley thru this website. I am really looking for the ablum "Jesus is the Boss" could you please help me where can I get it. Many thanks & God bless.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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