“The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation” (Ps. 118:14).
Here is an interesting thought from Les Garrett, who lives in Australia and is the author of one of the most popular Christian songs in the world today.
“Often during a service the only hymnbook we would have was the Bible. So we sang out of the Bible. I know approximately three hundred songs that we could sing right out of the King James Version of God’s Word.”
As you will see, Garrett’s love for God and his thirst for the Bible were the greatest contributing factors in the birth of his song. Les remembers the events that led up to the writing of “This Is the Day,” and he related them as follows:
“In 1967, at age twenty-four, I moved with my family to Brisbane, Queensland, in Australia. We were going through a difficult time in our lives. I was starting to minister as a traveling evangelist and was going through a bit of a valley. We had very few finances. Actually, we couldn’t even buy petrol for the car.
“I was reading my Bible through on my knees, and on this particular day I was reading in Psalm 118. When I came to verse 24, I paused and read that verse a second time, and as I did a tune came to me—all of sudden. I simply was reading my Bible and worshiping the Lord, and had no thought of writing a song. I have very little musical ability and do not play an instrument; therefore I can only believe that it was a gift from God.
“I didn’t teach the song to anyone for two years. The song was given to me near the end of 1967, and all through 1968 and ‘69 no one was singing it but me. The more I sang it, the more I thought, ‘Well, it is just a little thing that God has given to bless me with.’
“Near the end of 1969, I was asked to return to New Zealand to speak at a camp being held in a tent pitched by a river. One night during a meeting, the pastor of the church sponsoring the camp said, ‘Does anyone have anything that he or she would like to share before Pastor Garrett speaks?’ An elderly lady stood and looked straight at me and said, ‘There is someone here that has something that was given to you by the Lord, and you are not sharing it. God has given you something that you are supposed to share.’
“As she sat down I felt real conviction that I had never shared my song. I stood up and said, ‘I think that message is for me. I have a song that the Lord gave to me, and I have been singing it for a couple of years. I want to teach it to you tonight.’’’
From that one camp “This Is the Day” was spread over New Zealand to the extent that in six months it was being sung throughout the whole of that island nation. The following year it was published in the first edition of the famed Scripture in Song series of songbooks published in Australia by David Garrett. That publication launched it on its orbit around the world. Les has heard his song sung in many of the twenty-three nations where he has preached.
He remembers, “The people in China were so excited to know that I had written the song they were singing. It is sung all over China.”
Now for the most unusual part of this story. After interviewing scores upon scores of songwriters, many of whom have written several hundred songs, and some two and three thousand, I was astonished to hear Les say, “That is the only song I have ever written. I did get a quickening about another verse in the Psalms years ago, but I didn’t write it down, so it left me.”
Les now resides with his wife, Caroline, in Queensland on the east coast of Australia.
This is a Scripture song that is oh, so easy to sing, but oh, so difficult to live by. How I wish that each day I would gain the victory that can be mine with the singing and the believing of Les Garrett’s Scripture song “This Is the Day.”
© 2008 by Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.
Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008), from which this piece is excerpted, and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).