Five Whiteheart Songs That Taught Me the Truth

Whiteheart is my favorite band of all time. It’s not even very close, to be honest. There are many other bands and musical artists I love, but none of them move or inspire me like Whiteheart. If you are so inclined, you can read a few other articles I have written about them in the past here and here. A few years ago I wrote an article about five Petra songs that taught me the truth. Now, I want to do the same for Whiteheart’s music. These are not necessarily my five favorite Whiteheart songs but they are five songs that have consistently spoken to me and challenged me. Maybe you find that idea corny – being convicted or uplifted by music. If so, I hope you will stick around to read the rest of this and perhaps even allow your mind to be changed.

Today, I will focus on five Whiteheart ballads. I plan on writing a companion piece to this article in the next few weeks that will focus on some of their heavier songs. I have included a Spotify playlist with the five Whiteheart songs at the end of the article.

Whiteheart taught me to trust God’s promises.

Song: “The River Will Flow”
Album: Freedom (1989)
Scriptural Support: Bible verses: 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:8

Key Lyric:

So put your hand in mine
Oh, put your hand in mine
And let us all go down
And kneel by the river's side

We'll cry our tears of joy
Cry our tears of pain
We'll let them fall down from our eyes
To be washed in the sacred stream

Even the secret tears
Buried in our memories
Let them all be swept away
To the depths of the endless sea

My favorite song from my favorite album, “The River Will Flow” is a tour de force of a song. It is epic in scope and masterful in delivery. But, as good as the melody and musical skill are, the heart of the song is what moves me most often. As believers, we are promised an almost impossible to believe access to God and His grace. It is ours by His divine decree and our undeniable inheritance provided to us by the blood of Jesus. Why do we spend so much time trying to find answers and help in other places? Why do we look everywhere but to the River of Life provided to us by our Savior? This song is a wonderful reminder of all that is ours through the saving work of Jesus on the cross. It is a reminder I have needed more times than I can recall.

Whiteheart taught me that God’s Word will never return void.

Song: “Say the Word”
Album: Tales of Wonder (1992)
Scriptural Support: Isaiah 55:11; The Bible itself

Key lyric:

For every word He sends us holds the power to save us,
 It's His love raining down; raining down from the sky,
 Say the word,
 Say the word,
 Say the word. (hear him saying)

 Come all you weary, and I'll give you rest,
 I'll never leave you desolate,
 I'm the light of the world, come follow Me,
 I'm the way and the life, and My truth will set you free

There are countless Christian rock songs with references or direct quotes from the Bible. Often, these songs are encouraging and challenging. Sometimes, they are cliche and a little too on the nose. One reason I have always gravitated to Whiteheart’s music is because their lyrics were guided as much by poetic expression as anything else, particularly as they matured into a more well-rounded band in the late 80s.

That is the beauty of “Say the Word.” It is a song about the power of God’s word, but it’s expressed in a subtle and poetic fashion. And while Scripture is quoted in the bridge of the song, most of the song shares that truth in a less overt manner. There is room for both forms of expression, but I am happy Whiteheart chose the form they did.

Whiteheart taught me to find peace in the arms of God.

Song: “Lay It Down”
Album: Powerhouse (1990)
Scriptural Support: Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 4:8; Exodus 33:14

Key Lyric:

All your could have
Should have, might have been's
You know you wanna just start again
Moving past that jagged edge
Stop living on the lonely ledge

And lay it down
Oh, lay it down
Come lay it down
Oh, lay it down
Lay it down
Come to the kingdom

This song was vital to my survival in college. I was away from home, introverted, and sometimes overwhelmed. I spent many nights lying in my bed, unable to sleep with all the questions and uncertainty pressing down on my spirit. “Lay It Down” was a refuge to me. I don’t mean that in some abstract way. I started listening to this song every night when I found sleep elusive. It’s gentle melody and comforting lyrics stilled my heart and allowed me to rest in God’s hands.

Whiteheart taught me to forgive, even when it’s difficult.

Song: “How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven)”
Album: Don’t Wait for the Movie (1986)
Scriptural Support: Matthew 18:21, 22; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 17:3-4

Key Lyric:

How many times
Must I stand in the waves
Of this crashing sea?
How many times
Must I forgive all the hurt
That's been done to me?
Let the jury go, set the sinner free
Oh-oh-oh
Seventy times seven

If you grew up in the church as I did, this lesson was not new. We heard the words of Jesus about forgiveness often, and with good reason. It is a lesson we need to be reminded of repeatedly. Whiteheart took that well-known lesson and they captured all facets of it in “How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven)”. We see the hurt and pain, the reluctance to forgive, and the realization that we ourselves have caused our Lord more pain than anything we have had to bear. I wouldn’t classify the song as a guilt trip, but it definitely has a way of convicting you if you pay attention.

Whiteheart taught me to get out of the way and rely on God.

Song: “The Vine”
Album: Redemption (1997)
Scriptural Support: John 15:1-8

Key Lyric:

I feel so free
when You are my Lord
and I am just me

I'll be the branch
You be the vine
'cause I've been withering away
for some time
now I feel your healing flowing to my mind
I'll be the branch
You be the vine

We try so hard to be in charge, to be in control of our lives. At least I do. I’ve messed up more things than I care to admit simply because I insisted on running things. I am not enough. Not good enough or smart enough or capable enough. The Lord patiently and firmly reminds me of this fact often.

“The Vine” captures all of this. Jesus is the vine and I am the branch, completely unable to survive without Him. His love, grace, and life flow to me if I am only willing to put aside my need for control and accept. I’ve withered away too many times because my pride got in the way. This song reminds me that without Him, I am nothing. But with Him, I am loved. With Him and can and will bear much fruit and bring others to be grafted onto his vine.



Hopefully, this has not only been a trip down memory lane for some but also an encouragement. I hope to have my second installment of five Whiteheart songs ready in the next few weeks. We will focus on some “louder” songs from the band. Keep your eyes open for that one in the near future.

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Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, Firefly, 80s rock, Stranger Things, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

One thought on “Five Whiteheart Songs That Taught Me the Truth

  • January 22, 2021 at 12:19 pm
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    It’s great to reminisce on lessons taught and lessons learned, and you do that so well. What a blessing Whiteheart has been down through the years, challenging, encouraging, and inspiring. Thanks so much for this article.

    Reply

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