Epochal Song 4: As the Deer (Martin Nystrom, 1984)

I first came across “As the Deer” shortly I became a Christian.  I was attending a family “care group” and one of the group members, who was a very seasoned worship leader in the church, led this song off the piano.  I immediately fell in love with the song.  Today, when people ask me if I have a favourite song, the answer is “I don’t” but “As the Deer” certainly ranks as one of my favourites.

After all these years, it still moves me when I sing it.

Martin Nystrom wrote this song at a time when he was feeling the heartache of being rejected by a girl!  God led him to Psalm 42 and he began to pour out his heart before God through that psalm and “As the Deer” was born.

I have included this song on my list of Epochal Songs not only because of its staying power (to this day it remains in the canon of “classic” worship songs sung by the church) but I believe that this song began to set a benchmark of intimacy in the church, bringing us back to the scriptural experiences of the psalmist and causing the church to realise just how personal the Psalms can be.

We relate to this song because all of us go through times of loss, rejection or hurt and it causes us to cling ever more desperately to God, causing us to cry out from the depth of our hearts “You alone are my strength, my shield / To You alone may my spirit yield / You alone are my heart’s desire / And I long to worship Thee”.

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