Song – Holy Spirit Will You Be

Sometimes when I am having a prayer time, I will open the hymn-book up and sing a hymn. I like to turn to the section on prayer, and if I don’t know the hymn in question, I tend to make up my own tune rather than trying to learn the one in the book. So as a result of my recent urge to do some home studio recording, here is my version of Holy Spirit Will You Be which I originally wrote and partially recorded a few years ago. The hymn is from the Praise hymn book (number 604), and the words are written by Martin E Leckebusch (© 1999 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.) I like this hymn because it explores a rarely thought about theme of the Spirit helping us in our praying.

[audio:holy-spirit-will-you-be.mp3]

See below for details of the lyrics and recording process.

The lyrics

Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes for me
When I wonder what to pray
How to phrase the words I say
Come in might and majesty,
Help me in my frailty
Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes for me

Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes through me
When I lack the words to tell
What my feelings say too well
Speak through every sigh and groan
Making my emotions known
Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes through me

Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes with me
Come search my heart and mind
My desires and motives find
Take my deepest thoughts and cares
Turn them into fervent prayers
Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes with me

Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes for me
You alone can understand
What the mind of God has planned
And within his will you will lead
All for whom you intercede
Holy Spirit will you be,
One who intercedes for me

The recording

Recording was done in SONAR 2 using my Audiophile 2496 soundcard. I had recorded a version of this a couple of years ago, but never finished it off, but this is a complete re-recording. I only recorded at 16bit 44.1kHz mainly because I forgot to switch the old project to 24 bit before I started recording the new material. The original had a very strong acoustic guitar part, but I decided to build slowly and have the piano as the lead instrument this time round.

  • Acoustic guitar – I recorded my Yamaha acoustic guitar both direct (piezo-electric) and miked using my Senheisser Evolution 845 dynamic mic. The miked version was dull and boxy and the direct was trebly. As it happened, I didn’t use the miked track in the final mix as the acoustic doesn’t play a very significant part in the mix and the direct one fitted better.
  • Shaker – This is one of my children’s toys. The secret to playing a shaker is not to think about what you’re doing. It goes wrong otherwise.
  • Drums – I recorded myself four times on my acoustic kit just to get some ideas down. Then I tried to program it in MIDI using the excellent NSKit (lite version) sounds through sfz. It mostly went well, although there was one thing I played on the real kit that I just couldn’t get to sound right with in MIDI (where the stick bounces on the closed hi-hat twice before hitting the snare).
  • Piano – This is simply my Yamaha P200 stage piano. I have yet to find a sample library that is as pleasing to play as this.
  • Electric Guitar – I originally recorded it clean, and tried out a host of VST amp and cabinet simulators before getting frustrated and using my trusty Behringer V-Amp to give me a nice patch with tempo-synced tremolo. Its about time I got myself a new electric guitar though – the intonation is miles out which is a real pain in the neck when recording.
  • Bass Guitar – As usual, my Yamaha bass was DIed but I used the compressor on my digital mixer first rather than software compression. I had to tail off the treble quite a bit to get rid of an annoying 6kHzish hum.
  • Vocals – I tried my best, I really did. But I have a habit of getting ‘high’ (well, high for me) notes slightly flat with depressing regularity.

The mixdown

The dynamics and EQ effects supplied with Cakewalk are not very intuitive to use, so I relied again on the trusty Kjaerhus Classic Compressor and Classic EQ on most tracks. I did use the Cakewalk reverb, which sounded better than the Kjaerhus one. The free Voxengo Span spectrum analyser plugin was useful for choosing EQing frequencies.

  • Acoustic Guitar and Shaker – just a bit of reverb on these
  • Vocals – some compression, EQ and a room reverb. It was in danger of getting lost in the mix in the fourth verse, but I think its just about OK.
  • Bass Guitar – was already compressed, so I just added a bit of EQ
  • Electric guitars – were thinned out with Classic EQ so they didn’t trample over the piano. The two parts are panned hard left and right.
  • Piano – left entirely untreated (it already had reverb)
  • Drums – I had programmed each drum on a separate MIDI track so I could bounce to separate audio tracks and apply different effects, but too be honest I had spent a very long time mixing already and just wanted to finish things off. I simply put a bit of compression and reverb onto the output of sfz. If I had the time to bounce down to separate tracks I would probably mix the cymbals slightly lower and get the kick drum to cut through a bit better.
  • Mastering – I used the Kjaerhus Classic Mastering Limiter just to boost the level of the track slightly, but no additional reverb or EQ. Oh yes, and thankfully I remembered to cut the beginning and end tails off the recordings and fading things out properly (rather than my usual accidentally leaving in the recorded sound of me walking across the room to press the stop button).

Overall, doing this recording was a good learning experience for me, but I still feel I have a long way to go. I’m hoping to find the time next month to do another one.

6 thoughts on “Song – Holy Spirit Will You Be

  1. I really like that – I’ve been listening to it on my way to and from work, and find it a helpful thought and a catchy tune!

    One question though – do you have the chords that you used written down?

  2. Glad you liked it. I actually found out the other day that the guy who wrote the lyrics is alive, and quite a prolific writer. I had assumed he was long dead!

    The chords are fairly simple:
    F#m E F#m E
    F#m E F#m E
    A B
    C#m A (or F# last time)
    F#m E A E
    I play G# basses on some of the Es for interest

    They’re all fairly jangly open chords on the guitar:
    F#m E A C#m B F#
    0 0 0 0 0 0
    0 0 0 0 0 0
    2 1 2 6 4 3
    4 2 2 6 4 4
    4 2 0 4 2 4
    x 0 x x x x

  3. Wow I love those lyrics! I don’t understand the music part (I wish I did!) Thank you for sharing. It really was what I needed to read right now.

  4. Mark,

    Rob here from Miscellanies on the Gospel. Just wondering…do you craft music just for the songs you write? Or do you do it for other songs also?

    The following two are ones that I wrote and posted to my Gospel-Centered Resources” blog site (www.gospelresources.blogspot.com). Check them out and see if a tune comes to your mind. I already sing them in a tune I wrote…in my head that is. But since I’ve got no way of getting that tune to you, I thought perhaps it may be better for someone with more skill to do it…that is if you think it’s worthy of your time. THanks bro. I continue to enjoy your blog so much…thanks for the time you put into that as well.

    “Morning Prayer” http://gospelresources.blogspot.com/2005/02/gospel-prayers-morning-prayer.html

    “Show Us Your Grace”
    http://gospelresources.blogspot.com/2005/02/gospel-songs-show-us-your-grace.html

  5. Hi Rob,

    I had not visited your blog in a while (and didn’t know you had two!). Its been good to read some of your writings. I’ve subscribed to you on my newsreader.

    I always enjoy looking at other people’s song lyrics. I’m not really a very good songwriter, but occasionally I get a flash of inspiration. I might have a play around with your lyrics and see what comes out. My other problem is time – recording a song takes me at least a month.

    Keep writing and keep posting your lyrics. I feel there is great potential for collaborative songwriting through the Christian blogosphere. I came across Abraham Piper’s site yesterday – he has some very promising lyrics as well. (and check out bluefish too)

  6. Pingback: Song – O Lord, How Majestic

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