When I Stand

©Will Spicher 2006


Quick Jumps:

Dec, 2006.  Somehow I knew that, of all my worship songs, When I Stand would be the first to get an "ear-lift."  Though I have an "unplugged" arrangement, I have always heard the song as a full band in my head.  However, I had to wait until I had sufficient tools to extract my thoughts into audio.  Also, I have not served on a worship team for fifteen months, and I was beginning to forget how much I missed it.

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.    Ps 42:4-6

About the Arrangement

One of the enhancements to the WillSongs++ studio is the drums.  Since the new sound card ($200) supports ASIO audio drivers, I can "play" the drums from the MIDI keyboard.  This allows me to add velocity to give expression to the dynamics.  The piano roll window in PowerTracks 11 is a great interface for fine-tuning the result.

Another enhancement is the electric guitar.  For the first time, I used the "morphing" capability of Mission Control so that I could play a clean tube sound in the verse and, using the expression pedal, gradually morph over to the solid-state overdrive sound for the chorus.  Writing the solo was one of my greatest and most challenging musical experiences.  I heard small phrases at key locations and had to link them together through blood, sweat, and tears (the production notes have the details).

The 555 (12-string) benefits greatly from the Behringer B2 Pro microphone.  Using the compressor and monitoring through the headphones gives me a sound that is actually more satisfying than playing acoustically.

As I listened to the bass line from the 2002 version, I decided that this is one of the best lines I have ever played.  So I did not change a thing.  In order to fit it to the expanded bridge, I simply did a lot of copy-pasting from the original.  These are great days for making music!  I can remember working in the recording studio with analog 8-track tape!

With Cheering You On, I got hooked on the organ, which is now a possibility with ASIO drivers, the Roland Virtual Sound Canvas ($20), and the MIDI keyboard.

About the Vocals

As I completed the instrumental tracks and drew closer to recording the vocal, I grew increasingly anxious that I would ruin my song.  I eventually felt led (by my boys and Someone Else) to ask Tim "Timmy-C" Churchill to sing it.  Not only does the song fit his voice better than mine (OK, all songs do that), but the message of the song fits his life also.  I cannot think of a worship leader under whom I have felt more privileged to serve as a musician.  I confess, I have often wondered what people mean when they say that a worship leader is "anointed."  I just think of Tim, and the word makes sense.  Besides being an excellent worship leader, Tim is a great worship team leader who somehow manages to ask the best of his musicians while responding graciously and keeping the focus on God's glory.  That must be how he got me to learn 25 songs in two weeks with one rehearsal!  But, had I not had that crash course on the electric guitar, I probably would not have come up with the part that I did for this song. Thanks, Tim.

Of course, I couldn't keep my voice out of the song entirely.  So I sang the harmony and moved myself sonically backstage (by dropping the highs and lows and boosting reverb)...behind the drummer...next to the cowbell...which is pretty close to where it belongs ;).  Some might notice that I panned Tim slightly to the right with the 12-string (his favorite instrument, I think) and myself slightly left with the electric.  This is how we are typically arranged on stage (as viewed from the audience).

About the Bridge

The "choir" part in the bridge is my original vocal line from the 2002 version.  Actually, it is only two bars of that line copy-pasted, duplicated, and run through the TC Helicon harmony generator which transforms me into an antiphonal 24-voice choir through the magic of signal processing.  One of the things that I like about the music of Hillsong (besides the cool name, of course) is the way they often approach instrumental solos. Normally a solo produces a sense of awkwardness in me, whether I am in the congregation or the band.  I think it is the disorientation of not knowing exactly where the focus is and what the congregation is supposed to do.  But I don't get that sense with Hillsong music, and I think it is because they have the choir continue singing while the solo is being played.  Approached this way, the solo becomes an enhancement to the worship rather than a distraction. 

The bridge in the original 2002 recording was a simple vamp to communicate my intent for its use: an open-worship section that could expand spontaneously in a live worship setting.  Since the song has been played by a band only twice in the four years since its publication, the bridge never became any more than that on the original recording.  The two performances were just that--a performance setting--and the mood seemed to be one of getting the song over with quickly and surviving.  No blame--we just needed more exposure to the song before we were familiar and casual enough with it to improvise.

Nevertheless, open worship has been a very special experience for me in worship, and I wanted to somehow touch that in this recording.  Though the bridge this time is hardly spontaneous (it is precisely arranged since I wrote and played every note--even the mistake, just to prove I could do it with a computer sequencer), it serves as a "tribute" to open worship and captures what can happen in many ways.

First, it illustrates the gradual metamorphosis of mood and even harmonic structure that can occur (if the musicians have the skill to follow it).  The bridge starts in the same two-chord sequence used in the rest of the song (Bm7-A).  But the lead guitar introduces the tone G by playing in the mixophrygiohypolydian mode--just kidding...sorry--by using the note repeatedly in the solo.  About half way through, the other instruments "notice" it and adopt it into the harmonic structure by changing the Bm7 to Gmaj9 (which is just a Bm7 with a G in the bass).  This sort of thing has happened on many occasions in worship services where I have served (especially when I play bass and can be downright devious with that instrument's power to change the chord), and the result was beyond anything the band could have arranged.  It becomes an expression unique to that assembly at that time and includes, I believe, the influence of God's Spirit.  But it does require a certain skill level from the musicians--a little understanding of theory and some discussion of what sort of things to anticipate and how to accommodate them.

Production Notes

Music production involves so much technology that I began using a technique that I use in my job: saving notes in a text file along with images and generating hyperlinks for quick reference.  It tells the story of blood, sweat, and tears involved in making music.

About Mix D

21-Aug-2010.  After this song was published, it quickly became evident that the mix fell short.  But when I tried to open the PowerTracks file, it had become corrupt.  There seemed to be nothing I could do.  I gave up and forgot about it while I endured a hard drive crash and major upgrades to the production system.  But I found that I still really enjoy the song--both listening to it and playing it.  Finally, when I wanted to perform the song live, I realized I did not have a backing track.  It occurred to me to reinstall Powertracks on the old computer, and it worked, the file opened.  At that point, I was able to export every track to raw WAV or MP3 files, and I rebuilt the project in Sonar 8.5 on the new system.  This allowed improvements on Timmy C's vocal as well as the drums, not to mention mix processing and just more experience.   For reference, Mix C can still be listened to:

     play Mix C

You will give me ears to hear
Time will seem to disappear
when I'm standing in your light
You will wash away my shame
I will never be the same
when I'm standing in your light

where the beauty of your endless love
and your truth revealed like the morning sun
lift me high above to a place of trust
and I see:
you're greater than I've ever known

you give me strength to lift my voice
faith to make the better choice
when I'm standing in your light
I find meaning in my life
love to walk in sacrifice
when I'm standing in your light

when I'm standing in your presence

Back To WillSongs++
updated 26-Dec-2006
modified 21-Aug-2010. Mix D.