“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
This CD came out of a love for the incarcerated and a desire to see them set free inside the razor wire. Many men and women in prison feel they have no hope, that they are not worthy of love, that they cannot be forgiven. This song is for them…to proclaim freedom to them, to show them that we, all of us, are equal in our sin and we all need Christ to set us free.
The above paragraph is written on the back of this single. Like I said, I wrote this song specifically with the incarcerated in mind but I know that so many outside of the razor wire are suffering inside man-made prisons. We all need freedom, freedom that only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians about the freedom they have against legalism. They were holding on to the law and tradition. And don’t we do the same thing? Hold on to the past, our failures, what we know? I chose Galatians 5:1 because I have looked into the eyes of so many of the incarcerated and have seen their struggle; struggle to forgive themselves, to hold on to their past, their addictions and my heart hurts for them. Christ has given us such a sweet and precious gift – Freedom from our sin! And a peace that comes with it when we completely surrender to Him.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-14
The actually sitting down and writing this song was a longer process than the usual one day writing session. It started with a melody/rhythm in my head during a baptism service at Algoa Correctional Center. Lord only knows how I was able to remember that later on. My usual system is when a melody or word/phrase comes to mind I sing it into my phone or jot down the words in a note file on my phone. A few years ago I was at a song writing breakout session with Darlene Zschech at the National Worship Leader’s Conference and she was telling us that if something comes into your head in the middle of the night (because that happens all the time) then you have to write it down right then, you think you will remember it in the morning but you won’t. And boy, is she right! Except this time…I did. What’s funny though is the rhythm I used in the actual song is a completely different time signature, go figure.
I began this song in the Summer of 2017 and then laid it aside. I really wanted to be intentional in what I was saying and what God has to say to these precious souls in prisons. In December 2017, I wrote most of the rest of it and I actually sang it incomplete on New Year’s Eve at a church event. I finished it in January 2018. I added this improv instrumental, never playing it the same. I emailed the producer of my last album and asked him when I could come record the song. With a date set in February I knew I had to nail down that instrumental and the result is now so recognizable to the guys at Algoa that they air piano play along (it brings me a smile) or are disappointed if we are running out of time and I skip it. But the most amazing thing is hearing them sing this song with tears, shouts of victory, rejoicing in their freedom and declaring the Name of Jesus – the One who set them free. I wish you could hear them shouting “JESUS!” when I sing the line “call out His name” or hear a man proclaiming the greatness of God, who He is, and everyone exclaiming “hallelujah! Glory be to God!” during the instrumental. When you have experienced the kind of freedom these men and women behind the prison walls have…while they are confined…you praise the One who freed you.
Here are the lyrics and the original recording with just me and piano (all other instruments on the track are produced). I plan to put this song on my next album with a full band and some very special musicians.
Do you long to be free?
Free from all your mistakes?
Shame and regret, your mind can’t forget
The cost of the prison you’ve made
You’re not too far away
From His saving grace
No sentence too long, your past or your wrongs
Can cancel the price that’s been paid
This freedom can be yours
Freedom from sin, free to begin
A new life given through Him
He will give you His peace
And He will make you new
Give Him your fears, your doubt and your tears
His mercy includes you
Oh there’s no other way
Lay down your guilt, your pain
The weight of your crime, is equal to mine
Just call on His Name
Come and believe, Jesus receive
And you will be free
© 2018 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)
I sent this CD single to every prison in Missouri (and a few to some prisons out of state) with a desire to share this gift of Christ-given Freedom with anyone who would listen. A bonus track shares the Gospel with scripture passages, the Gospel is for everyone, share it with someone today.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Romans 6:6