I first heard Our King after we sung it at church a few months back. It struck me as instantly singable as well as lyrically powerful in its simple focus on the life, death and resurrection Jesus. But from whence has it come?
Generally I try and keep an ear to the ground for new congregational songs that are gathering momentum. But in my experience what typically happens is that a song gets a lot of airplay at festivals/conferences/CDs and only then diffuses its way to the ‘normality’ of a local church setting. So call me a cynic, but I was kinda surprised to hear this really catchy song at church which I’d never heard anywhere else before. Similarly there was no familiar Worship Together/Sovereign Grace/EMU copyright notice. Instead the subscription just noted the author’s name: Michael Tinker. Who?
Well, turns out Michael Tinker is currently a full time musician, based in Sheffield. He penned Our King back in 2007, in the midst of preparing a sermon from Mark’s gospel. He explains:
I wanted to take a break from writing so I thought I’d give a song a bit of a crack. I wanted to write about what kind of King we find in Mark and so I started working through his life.
Consequently the verses capture Mark’s intention of building up a picture of what kind of king Jesus is, through what he says and does. In that sense it’s the perfect accompaniment to a sermon series in Mark’s gospel (although I guess songs about Jesus are never going to be too far from the service-planner’s ‘go-to’ list!)
The chorus then takes the famous last words of slave-trader turned hymn-writer John Newton, framing them in the context of our habitual spiritual forgiveness, as well as a really catchy melody:
Even though our memories may fail us
May we always remember this:
We are great sinners
But we have a great Saviour in Christ.
That idea of our spiritual forgetfulness runs throughout Scripture; we have hearts that all too easily ‘forget’ who we are, what we’re really like, and what Jesus has done. That’s why the writers of the Bible regularly call us to “remember”, and so I love the words of Tinker’s chorus.
It’s also testimony to Our King‘s quality as a congregational song that it’s winged its way across three continents, despite not having a Kauflin/Redman/Hughes name at the end of it to give it some commercial welly. Why not give it a whirl at your church?
As well as organising a touring folk project focused on stories from World War I (Songs for the Voiceless), Michael is also the man behind Inspector Smart, a touring musical extravagansa introducing primary-school aged children to Jesus (kind of like an English Colin Buchanan, if that means anything to you).