"Now Arise"

The Story Behind The Song

Steve Israel, Larry Holder, and Elton Smith at the "Songs of Praise" booth at the Dallas Airport conference center, during the Worship Institute conference. It's July 6, 2000, and Larry has just flown in from Tennessee. Elton and Steve have been attending conference sessions and manning the booth since the beginning of the week. Elton and Larry got together once before to perform several prison concerts last year. However, this is the first time that Elton and Larry have met Steve in person. A great opportunity for all three to get together for the first time, after several years of songwriting via e-mail, beginning as far back as 1997 ... finally bridging the geographic distances betwen Gaithersburg Maryland (Steve), Martin Tennessee (Larry), and Plano Texas (Elton).

It's Friday morning, July 7, and Steve Israel and I (Larry Holder) are sitting in Elton Smith's living room talking about compulsory licensing and other copyright trivia, when Elton sits down with a guitar and says, hey, I've got a melody for you to hear. As he begins playing the chords and humming the melody, Steve joins in with another guitar, and the two work out the chord progressions. Meanwhile, I decide it's high time to grab a pad of paper and at least write down the chord progressions and sketch the notes of the chorus in case we put the song away and forgot how it went. Steve almost decides to take a short break, but somehow the music is compelling, and we all three just stay right there. Elton has an idea for the first line: "Stand up and come to Jesus". We discuss the word "standing" a bit (in an invitational setting, folks are usually already standing, etc.) I suggest an alternate word, "arise", which can be taken in the spiritual sense of the soul arising from death into life when we come to Jesus. Agreeable with Elton and Steve, I write that down, leave some space for the rest of the verse yet to be written, followed by a line for the start of the chorus that seems to fit the melody Elton has been humming: "Now arise ---".
As Steve and Elton keep playing through the chords and humming melody and the beginnings of harmony, words finally begin to flow onto my notepad for the first verse and chorus. Handing the pad over to the other two, they begin to sing through it. These two photos of Elton and Steve with the guitars were taken at this time. With mutual approval of the work so far, I begin waiting for the second verse, which comes through likewise. Elton and Steve discuss the possibility of a bridge, how it should relate to the rest of the song, how long or short it should be. Very soon, the lines expressing the compelling need to turn to Jesus come through: "Don't wait until tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come."
With a borrowed digital 8-track Roland unit, we set up a microphone in one of the kid's bedrooms, and in the early afternoon begin recording the basic tracks in our makeshift recording studio. To keep noise at a minimum, we turn off the overhead fan and turned off the air conditioner during takes. Steve begins by recording a track of guitar strumming which provides the basic timekeeping throughout the song, followed by a track of guitar finger picking. The instrumental tracks are then followed by Steve's singing of the melody. A final impromptu lyric change is made when Steve sings "as we are meant to be" instead of "as we were meant to be", and it is agreed that this subtle change is better than the original, and we keep the take as-is.
Elton adds high vocal harmony, and then I add harmony an octave lower (seeing as I have the lowest voice of the three of us), plus the "echo" part on "Now arise ---" in the final choruses that are after the bridge. After several hours of going at it, the recording is essentially complete. Elton and Steve figure out how to get the digital unit to add some reverb to the tracks. The next morning, Elton and Steve also listen through the song several times and determine final mix settings, prior to uploading it into Elton's computer as a WAV file, later converted into an an MP3 to upload, initially to Larry's website, and later to the Songs of Praise MP3 page. (The digital recording unit pictured is a Roland VS-840 Digital Studio Workstation).
We had no idea this song was about to come at us. The Lord dropped it into our lap, and it was a joy to spend the rest of the day seeing the song through from the beginnings of a melody and lyrics, to the completion of a full-scale recording. Having a camera nearby, I took photos as the song progressed along. This photo was taken by Elton's wife on Sunday, July 9, after the three of us had the privilege of taking part in leading the praise music, including the new song, at Elton's church in Plano, The Church of The Savior.

All we can say, looking back on this remarkable day, is Praise The Lord. May this song, "Now Arise", be a blessing to many, and cause individuals everywhere to hear the call to "arise and come to Jesus."

To hear the song, as well as see the lyrics and sheet music, visit the
"Now Arise" Song Page

This and many other songs,
including more collaborations by Elton, Steve, and Larry,
may be found by visiting our websites:

Songs of Praise      IsraelSongs      Larry's Songs of Praise and Worship