Analyzing "Grace Alone" by Dustin Kensrue

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Today’s newsletter edition has two parts:

  1. Song Analysis

  2. Fun tweets

“Grace Alone” by Dustin Kensrue is one of my favorite praise songs because of the poetic structure of the lyrics. If you haven’t heard the song before, here it is via YouTube.

So in poetry, we have anticipation. We anticipate certain rhythms, like the iambic pentameter in Shakespeare.

We also expect rhyming patterns. See this poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost:

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

Each line rhymes with the next, making it flow. You even have a period at the end of each couplet (set of two lines that forms a unit) to mark that the rhyme has ended. So what happens if we mess up the rhyme a little?

Let’s a look at the first verse of “Grace Alone”:

I was an orphan, lost at the fall
Running away when I'd hear You call
But Father, you worked your will

I had no righteousness of my own
I had no right to draw near Your throne
But Father, You loved me still

You have a nice meter in the first two lines that are tied together nicely by the rhyming couplet. Because of it, you expect the next line to fit in nicely. (“But Father you look so tall?”) But then you get kind of jarred by will. Although the “L” ending is similar, the vowel is completely different, lending to a tension between the lines.

And then we try to rhyme again with own and throne. But then we have this incongruous still popping in. What is going on?

Perhaps you’ve noticed now that will and still add a second, less obvious rhyme scheme. Although they don’t rhyme with the lines directly above it. They rhyme with each other.

And the effect of this subtle rhyme is to mirror how God works in our lives (BOOM!)

How often do we live our own lives according to our own desires and purposes? And then God pops in unexpectedly to interrupt our plans? But his plans are not random nor cruel. They are purposeful and for good. And oftentimes when we step back (or look back), we see that he has been singing over us the whole time.

Let’s check out the chorus now:

And in love, before You laid the world's foundation
You predestined to adopt me as Your own
You have raised me so high above my station
I'm a child of God by grace and grace alone

Everything rhymes in a pattern that makes sense. As the singer understand that he is a child of God by grace alone, everything clicks into place, and he can sing above and through his circumstances.

This rhyming pattern happens for the rest of the verses and choruses. And I love how it mirrors meaning behind the words. And that is why I have a special appreciation for this song.

(If you have a song you want me to analyze, send it to me!)

Time for a Few Tweets

I’m so excited for Taylor Swift’s New Album (IT COMES OUT TOMORROW!)

There’s a fan theory that he’s actually already proposed, and that would make me SO HAPPY.

We’re all gonna go to this:

Language is weird:

That’s all for now. Write to you later!

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