Jennie Lee Riddle: "I want to be found doing what I'll be doing for all eternity when He comes. He is coming."
We have become familiar with Jennie Lee Riddle's songwriting through the voices of Kari Jobe, Phillips Craig & Dean, Selah, NewSong, Trica Brock, Newsboys, Travis Cottrell, Rebecca St. James, Shane & Shane, and JJ Heller to name a few. Now Riddle--top five CCLI writer, three time Dove Award winner, and author of the worship anthems "Revelation Song" and "When The Stars Burn Down"--is opening up to share more of her heart and life with us.
"When The Stars Burn Down" has been recorded by Travis Cottrell on When The Stars Burn Down and Phillips, Craig & Dean on Breathe In. The song is also featured on Jennie Lee Riddle's upcoming project, People & Songs: Opus 1.
Jennie founded New Nation Music out of a desire to write Scripture-based doctrine upon the heart and mind of the Church. Motivated by a desire to cultivate unity and authentic respect in the family of God, New Nation Music Band travels throughout the churches inviting all age groups to join together to lift one voice as one Bride to One King. Visit www.peopleandsongs.com to discover more.
The full length debut album People & Songs: Opus 1 releases Tuesday, May 8. I had the great opportunity to interview Jennie Lee Riddle about her Dove Award nominated Worship Song "When The Stars Burn Down," which features Jonathan Lee on her album.
Please tell me the story of writing the song "When The Stars Burn Down."
I co-wrote the song with Jonathan Lee in Nashville. I just love that kid. He's amazing. We had been toying around and I was looking forward to writing that day, but it was a surprising day kind of like the day I wrote "Revelation Song." I was in the mood to write, for sure. I had prayed about what the Lord would have us write that day. I ccertainly didn't wake up that morning expecting to write this particular song. I had been wanting to write this song for 10 years and I was fully planning to write it by myself, but the Lord had different plans. He wanted Jonathan and I together to author the song - and I'm so happy He did! I think the song is better than it would have been had I tried to write it on my own. I can't think of anyone I'd rather share this with.
I don't want to use the word sequel, because that sets an expectation I don't want to initiate, but the story of "Revelation Song" wasn't finished. That song gives us a picture of Who Jesus is and makes us yearn for Him and reach out to Him. "When The Stars Burn Down" gives you the clear understanding that it's all for real, we are actually going to see Him! Everyone wanted me to title the song "Blessing And Honor." In my mind, if all people got was the song title, I want that moment to hit them.
Which Bible verses are connected to the message of the song?
Matthew 24:31: "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
...and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
...and 1 Corinthians 15:54-55: "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?'"
...and Revelation 5:11-12: "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!'"
How can Christians apply that message as they reflect on this song?
Somewhere in the middle of singing this song comes the realization that it could be right now! We don't know the moment when it will happen. It's going to be in the twinkling of an eye. That realization makes you cry out, "God I'm ready now!" Or, it makes you wonder if you are ready. That's the reality. I want to be found doing what I'll be doing for all eternity when He comes. He is coming. He is coming! I want this song to have that fruit. I want the Bride of Jesus to say, "Come quickly, Lord."
What this song can do is awaken people's ears to the sound of the trumpet coming. Turn their eyes to watch. Bring them to a place of saying this world is not my home. I hope the song helps cracks open people's hearts to the realization that Jesus could come at this very moment. It puts everything into perspective, how you'll spend your time. Our Bridegroom is coming! There's going to be foolish ones, and I don't want to be among those. It's easy to put off for later what we know we ought to be doing now. The reality is why did five virgins run out with lamps with no oil? In their wedding dresses? Why would you do that? I believe it's because there is a pre-existing expectation that someone else will fill your lamp with oil.
When the stars burn down and the earth wears out
And we stand before the throne
With the witnesses who have gone before
We will rise and all applaud
Singing blessing and honor, glory and power
Forever to our God
Singing blessing and honor, glory and power
Forever to our God
When the hands of time wind fully down
And the earth is rolled up like a scroll
The trumpets will call and the world will fall
To its knees as we all go home
Star of the morning, Light of salvation
God of all mysteries, Lord of the universe
There will come a day standing face to face
In a moment, we will be like Him
He will wipe our eyes dry, take us up to His side
And forever we will be His
Matthew Henry's commentary: "They will glory over death as a vanquished enemy, and insult this great and terrible destroyer: 'O death! where is thy sting? Where is now thy sting, thy power to hurt? What mischief hast thou done us? We are dead; but behold we live again, and shall die no more. Thou art vanquished and disarmed, and we are out of the reach of thy deadly dart. Where now is thy fatal artillery? Where are thy stores of death? We fear no further mischief from thee, nor heed thy weapons, but defy thy power, and despise thy wrath. And, O grave! where is thy victory? Where now is thy victory? What has become of it? Where are the spoils and trophies of it? Once we were thy prisoners, but the prison-doors are burst open, the locks and bolts have been forced to give way, our shackles are knocked off, and we are for ever released. Captivity is taken captive. The imaginary victor is conquered, and forced to resign his conquest and release his captives. Thy triumphs, grave, are at an end. The bonds of death are loosed, and we are at liberty, and are never more to be hurt by death, nor imprisoned in the grave.' In a moment, the power of death, and the conquests and spoils of the grave, are gone; and, as to the saints, the very signs of them will not remain. Where are they? Thus will they raise themselves, when they become immortal, to the honor of their Savior and the praise of divine grace: they shall glory over vanquished death."
I absolutely love Jennie Lee Riddle's songwriting and this beautiful and stirring worship song co-written with Jonathan Lee. This Dove Award-nominated worship song has been recorded by Phillips, Craig & Dean, Travis Cottrell and also appears on Jennie's new album featuring Jonathan Lee. I really appreciate Jennie's insight into the song, especially as I sing along with the biblical truths throughout this song. I'm moved by the incredible bridge: "There will come a day, standing face to face, In a moment we will be like Him, He will wipe our eyes dry, Take us up to His side, And forever we will be His, Singing blessing and honor, glory and power, forever to our God."
The song title says a lot, "when" not "if" the stars burn down.
This song challenges all of us as believers to know that as a matter of fact. This song causes me to cry out, "God I'm ready now!" The song is a glimpse of what we'll be doing for all eternity. If you have put all of your hope and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, one day you'll be saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" Amen to that!
Posted April 24, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.