The birth of a songwriter ...

The birth of a songwriter ...

If you want to learn how I, at the age of 32 became a songwriter by the grace of God, please read on. If you want to listen to my first song, it is also available for download on this page, and a few others are also available in the menu.

Back in 2004, my company, Kommunion inc., was responsible for all marketing, information and PR relating to the praise and worship party called Glory. This was a huge undertaking, and in the beginning, we were trembling before the task. Oslo's largest indoor concert hall, Oslo Spektrum, was meant to be filled up, and we had a far lower budget than anybody else trying to do exactly that. The expectations presented to us was 5,000 people! Normally, this venue hall had Billboard level artists and used advertising on national TV, and all of this was out of our scope and league. This praise and worship concept, however, was also new, so we had very little to build upon with regards to an established organisation. We had no other similar venues to gather experience from either. But we believed that Per Søetorp, the visionary behind Glory, had gotten a clear and trustworthy revelation/calling, so we trusted God for provision along the way. Still, quite a few prayers and sighs went to God in this nervous and fumbling startup period of the winter and spring of 2004, preparing for the event that had been set for January 1st 2005.

It was a late night in my office, spring of 2004. A young man that I knew well, the best friend of one of my closest colleagues at work through his entire childhood and youth, had been brutally attacked at work. This had happened only a few days in advance, while he was driving his bus in downtown Oslo. With massive physical injuries due to the abuse and being without oxygen for a prolonged period of time, he was in a coma, struggling for his life. This night, I felt very strongly that I should pray for him. I am no prayer warrior, and I am not used to long and sustained prayer times. But this night was different. Time flew, and I am certain that close to an hour went by without me taking notice of it. With boldness, I asked God for healing and comfort. I even felt reminded to ask God to grow back his ear which had been ripped off and lost. After a while, I resumed to my work. I am a computer scientist working mainly with software systems engineering and media. This night, I had a particularly difficult task in front of me. With tight deadlines and the possibility of not being disturbed, I had decided to pull an all-nighter.

After the time of prayer a few hours earlier, the mood at the office was kind of special. At 4:30 AM, I sensed in a special way that God spoke to me. I felt compelled to write a song for Glory. Many thoughts and feelings of human fear ran through my head. "Listen up, Anders: You have never ever written a song before. You don't even know how to play an instrument. You can not write a musical score. Glory! is gathering the foremost Christian artists, worship leaders and musicians from all over Norway. What are you doing. Keep doing your thing. Don't embarass yourself! Focus on the computer programming. That's what the all-nighter was set for in the first place!"

But I set all those thoughts aside, I cleared my desk, I closed all the development tool windows on my computer desktop, and I created a new document in my word processor. Just a short while earlier, it had been decided that the name of the event would be Glory. This ran through my head as I started writing. 45 minutes later, the lyrics were ready for the song Glory with three verses and a chorus. But yet, it had not dawned on me that I was also supposed to write the music. That was unthinkable to me. So I printed the lyrics and wandered around the office reading it while contemplating who I could ask to come up with a melody. I then decided to read it aloud to hear how it sounded. Then, instead of reading, I simply started singing. The melody was just there, and I sang straight through the verses and the chorus without stopping. I then ran for my computer, found a lousy computer microphone and recorded my voice acapella fearing that I might forget it.

Fast forward: the time is now 6 AM. I have taken the five minute drive from the office to my home, and I am in my bedroom trying to wake my wife. I'm totally excited: "I have written a song! It just appeared to me! It's for the Glory event"
She looks sleepily at me and mumbles "Yeah, yeah."
I follow up: "I have already emailed it to Per Søetorp".
(Per Søetorp is, by the way, one of the main musicians and preachers taking modern praise and worship to Norway. He is a also a highly skilled recording artist.)
Suddenly, my wife is wide awake. She is a musician, and she also knows my strengths and weaknesses, and exclaims: "You did what!!" Close to complete and utter despair, she repeats this a couple of times - somewhat ashamed over her husband's obvious lack of impulse control.

Later that coming day, I have a scheduled meeting with Per Søetorp regarding the marketing plan. Full of enthusiasm, I play my not so beautiful recording of the song Glory for him. And Per really impressed me. He saw the heart and meaning of the song, and was able to look past that I am no singer and even less of a musician. "This will be used from stage during the Glory event", was his immediate comment.

In the coming days, the thought came to us, to launch a CD with this song. Our experience was also that this thought was God's gentle whisper to us. We had had prolonged discussions about how we could promote the Glory event at the Norwegian summer festivals, which are a huge thing here. But we did not have enough people, rented space at the festivals were expensive, and we were unsure of the impact of handing out brochures among 15 others doing the same thing for other products or events. We agreed however that the summer festivals were some of the most important arenas to reach our target group - those who might wish to participate in a worship event in Oslo Spektrum. We decided to publish a CD with 15,000 copies, and to hand them out at the Christian summer festivals. The CD included the song Glory as well as a promotional message. It was professionally produced by highly skilled musicians, and it was a joy to call the various summer festival administrations and tell them that we had a gift for their participants. Totally free of charge, they offered to hand out the CDs for us. Several of them even played the song from stage. 15,000 CD singles is equivalent to three times the limit for a gold-CD and 50% above the level for platinum here in Norway. The gold and platinum awards are of course representing CDs sold over the counter, but since we indeed managed to hand out all our 15,000 CDs, it is interesting to compare to these figures to get to grips with the relative magnitude and impact. In Norway in 2004, no matter the genre, 33 CD singles sold at the gold level or better, yet only five of those had higher numbers than what we had been handing out with the Glory single. 15,000 was also three times the number of people that we had set as a goal for the event in Oslo Spektrum. And after the summer of 2004, we almost never experienced that people had not heard of Glory.

An encouraging side effect of the CD was the fact that we spread something from the vision of Glory to far more people than those who had the opportunity to come to Oslo Spektrum - even to other countries and continents.

In the summer of 2004, the song was put on the website together with the sheet music, and it was highly popular. Up till the event, the song had been downloaded 5,600 times from those pages, and an unknown number of times from some international praise and worship resource pages. A ringtone version for mobile phones had been downloaded more than 400 times. The sheet music had been downloaded more than 1700 times, and over a third of these downloads were the version with international arrangements. After the event, these downloads continued.

I believe that the song Glory was given to us as an encouragement and a confirmation of Per's vision. Some people have asked me if the song Glory was a dictation from God, and for me, that's a too strong word. But it has certainly been the closest to it I've ever been. Since we chose to listen and answer with obedience to what God gave us, he was faithful in return, and we felt that we received a lot of blessings along the way. And the Glory event surpassed its goal of 5,000 people. January 1st 2005, 5,600 people were gathered to praise God in Oslo Spektrum.

And when God blesses, he blesses richly. After that night, I write new songs quite often, and this new gift has been a blessing in my ministry. I have also experienced to a great degree, that while I practice this gift, people around me also get the gift of writing songs to the Lord.

And maybe you wonder about the bus driver? He came out of the coma before summer of 2004 - against all odds and predictions - and in the fall of 2004, he gave his testimony of healing on the front page of our country's largest secular newspaper. He has had a rough ride with ups and downs, but he has had prolonged periods of remarkable recovery. Even his ears are back due to excellent surgery! As of this writing (autumn 2008), he has recently suffered a major setback with paralysis, so please pray for him. Our experience was that God healed him, and I believe that God can do that again.

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