Todd Larson: "God's presence is what I want more than anything else."
New BEC Recordings band An Epic, No Less was born from the word of God in front man Todd Larson's heart. "It has been my experience that the times when God speaks most clear are the moments when we least expect to hear from Him," shares Larson. "My moment of clarity came laboring in an orphans' hostel in Uganda many years ago."
It was that day in Uganda that the voice of the Lord reminded Larson that the gates of Christ's kingdom are called to praise. Knowing that, his best friend and drummer Daniel Chancellor shared this passion; there was no better fit to join the team. Also with them in the mission to create genuine music that is born from a place of worship are Daniel's wife Hannah Chancellor (Piano/Vocals), Britney Stutz (Violin), and Neil Endicott (Guitar).
"What we have to offer in this world is the skill and the art that the Lord gives us," shares guitarist Neil Endicott. "As we work, we pray together that God performs in us those greater goals, and the greater dreams that He has for us."
Debut single "Mercy Light" is about the rescue from the many forms of modern slavery. The video idea stems from one of the most difficult and complicated issues in the U.S. and around the world today: human trafficking. On the surface, the story being told is one of rescue, but the band's intent is to speak of a far more deeply seeded issue. It is their prayer that the church would be a light to even the most difficult and unspeakable problems that it faces. I had the great opportunity to interview Todd Larson about "Mercy Light."
Please tell me the personal story behind the song "Mercy Light."
"Mercy Light" emerged from the Biblical account of the request of Moses to behold the glory of God, and the chorus voices that desire. "You're my mercy light, in the darkest night / All I ask, don't hide Yourself from me." In writing these songs, sometimes it comes really easy, and other times it requires spending a lot of time in worship and in prayer. For this song, we felt all of those emotions. This is one of the first songs where we wanted to include direct Old Testament Scripture. In particular, the account in Exodus 33 where Moses says to the Lord, "Please, show me Your glory." That passage meant a lot to me as a child, and I could see his hunger to be in God's presence. That was the hunger I felt when I was first saved, and I wanted to get back to that level of desire. That's what we were thinking about when we wrote the song.
Describe the Bible verses that connect to the message of the song.
Exodus 33:14-23: And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth." So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."
What do you consider to be the take-away message for listeners?
God's presence is what I want more than anything else. If all of the music business collapses and our music disappears, I know that if I can feel God's presence, then I will be happy. I went on a mission trip to Uganda with some people from church. I know there's nothing magical about ‘going to Africa', but I just told the Lord as long as I'm getting so far away from home, I would really like to take this time to focus on what You want me to do. I just separated myself from everything. I was working at an orphan's hostel, alone, scraping concrete off these walls; it was monotonous. There was an inch of water on the ground. It was dark and cold. That's where the Lord reminded me of a short sentence: the gates of His kingdom are called to praise. All of a sudden, I felt myself being able to have the faith and the strength to accept the path the Lord wanted me on. I felt my spirit able to accept that. I've been thinking about how true love only comes from God, and we need to reflect God's love. Our mission as a band is to help lead people in worship and prayer.
Every day I am seeking
Every way, I am needing
Just to hear the songs that You sing over me.
Every word that I'm speaking
Every thought that I'm thinking
I'm in love with the letters You've written for me.
You're my mercy light, in the darkest night
All I ask, don't hide Yourself from me
You're the sparks at dawn, the One I'm waiting on.
All I ask, don't hide Yourself from me.
I'm like dust in the desert
Weary bones, broken and hurt
And I thirst, let Your food come and wash over me.
You're the light of the world
All we need now is You.
Regarding the band's curious name, it comes from a quote by John Eldredge that came from Dan's journal: "… because they knew the Christian life as an epic, no less than the greatest myths the world has ever known." Larson explains, "I didn't want my life to be just boring and mundane and mediocre. I really wanted my life to affect other people. I know I was created to sing songs and make art and help people, and I just felt urgency in my mid- to late-twenties that I needed to spend as much possible time doing those things to make my life really matter. I was blessed that God gave us this outlet to do those things. That's what I want my life, and this ministry to be: no less than the greatest thing that God has for it."
Don't miss out on this incredible album. More than just a collection of great songs, Echo of Love is a deep and meaningful worship experience unlike any other I've heard this year. If you feel like most of what you hear on the radio sounds the same and want to experience a fresh, deep, introspective and completely worshipful album, then look no further than Echo of Love.
"Mercy Light" is my favorite type of worship song, and the album is filled with this type of soul searching and honest songwriting. What's great is how An Epic, No Less puts their musical stamp on every song with an electronic musical arrangement found throughout the album. I sing along at the top of my lungs as the band belts out the Truth of the song with these prayerful words, "You're the light of the world / All we need now is You."
The song's video by Tennyson S. Tanner tackles the issue of human trafficking. It's a harrowing visual that reminds us that God's rescue can be actualized through the church if we don't just talk about good, but actually do it. Similarly, Echo of Love declares, "We are the hands, we are the feet, and we are the love of God that people will meet." Amen to that!
Posted August 14, 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.