Anyone who listened to Christian radio in the late '90s will know this song word-for-word. Well, most of the song anyway... In the interest of depraving us of any music that might actually be inspiring and beautiful, the last two minutes of this song never saw the light of day (thanks to Christian radio) unless you managed to catch a copy of the album before it disappeared into the tobyMac abyss.
This is why I like the iTunes Store.
In 1998 I was too young to understand whose song this was supposed to be and what happened to him. It was all over the radio, but I don't remember it. All I remember is hearing the flute and the children's voices -- 'My Deliverer is coming; My Deliverer is standing by; My Deliverer is coming; My Deliverer is standing by...'
After a while though, the song faded, ousted by the likes of tobyMac, Newsboys, and, of course, Phillips, Craig and Dean. Don't get me wrong; I've nothing against the Newsboys (tobyMac and PCD are a different matter), but aside from a completely chance occurrence I would have lost this song entirely to the fog of my childhood.
It was some years later -- at least ten -- and I distinctly remember being in a rush. My mother had errands to run and was already waiting outside in the minivan for me. I hurried to get my coat and began to put it on when suddenly my ear caught something so beautiful it froze me.
I turned to look at the radio. Flute music, mingled with piano -- so familiar.
I continued to get ready to leave, but I moved more slowly so I could hear the radio. I hoped to catch the name of the song, but since telling us the title and artist of the song seems to be a go-to-jail-do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 infraction in radio these days, I knew my only real hope of identifying the song lay in memorising as many of the lyrics as I could and preferably the basic tune as well.
I could only identify the chorus lyrics (and how couldn't I; they only repeat it thirty-seven times or so); but the uncommon use of the flute seared itself across the almost-faded childhood memory. The song finished and I rushed out to my waiting mother, but I made sure to keep singing to words to myself throughout the day. When I finally got hold of a piece of paper and a pen I wrote them down and tucked it away for safekeeping; but continued to sing the fragment to myself periodically to keep the tune in my head.
Some time later -- a few weeks maybe, or perhaps a few months -- I heard the same song again. This time my mother was with me and I asked her, "Do you know who did this song?"
"Rich Mullins and a Ragamuffin Band."
I had been expecting to hear "I don't know. Michael W. Smith maybe?" or something of the sort, so I was rather taken aback when she gave me such a confident answer. Still, I was relieved. Now I had a very good chance of finding the song someday.
It was year later, maybe more, when I finally got an iTunes Store account. I bought two songs (I've always been a rather 'conservative spender'). One was PFR's Great Lengths. The other was this one:
Title: My Deliverer
Artist: Rich Mullins
Album: The Jesus Record
(You can hear it on YouTube here.)
Although Rich Mullins is listed as the artist; that's not entirely true. He had made a few low-quality demos for a new album with intent to start working on it before the end of 1997.
However, only days (I heard once that it was nine days) later, he was killed in a motor accident. His recording friends took the demos and expanded them into a proper album, which was released in a 2-disc format -- one disc with the original demos, one with the full-blown versions his friends created.