Thoughts on "So Will I" by Hillsong United

A look at the lyrics and their meaning.

The soundscapes are expansive, the vocals gentle and the lyrics intricate. 

Hillsong United’s “So Will I (100 Billion X)” is a beautiful, and often abstract, take on creation all the way through to Christ’s death and resurrection. 

As You speak

A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath,

Evolving in pursuit of what You said

Yup, they dropped the “E” word. Is it blasphemy? No. Can it send conversations in some strange and unproductive directions? Yes. Can it draw us into a greater and deeper understanding of the vastness of God? If we take the time to ponder it, absolutely. While the trigger word here is “evolving”, the previous verse sets it up beautifully:

God of Your promise

You don't speak in vain,

No syllable empty or void

For once You have spoken

All nature and science

Follow the sound of Your voice.

The lyrics of “So Will I” aren’t literal. They are a collection of metaphors trying to describe an indescribable God. Some people are going to have a problem with that if you don’t teach into it. Even if you do, you will probably have some naysayers, but pausing and reflecting on the lyrics we sing is important.

What do the words mean? Are they true? What are the implications? Most importantly for the worship leader, can our community sing them with conviction? I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m only going to suggest you pause and reflect on the lyrics before plunging into the beautiful arrangement. For full context, I’ve included the full lyrics below.

So Will I (100 Billion X)

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I

I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind

Learn how to play So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong United.

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

Thoughts on "So Will I" by Hillsong United

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Ditto that brother!

I'm so glad to see I'm not the only one that was wrestling with this! I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to this song for my own personal worship and reflection. There's this unwritten list of words in worship music that "fit" (galaxies, universe, creation, any water reference) and others just seem out of place (science, syllable). They're not inaccurate, not inappropriate, just 'out of place'. Vertical Church's 'Always Have' for example uses the phrase "When I'm spent and restless". As somebody who often feels overwhelmed by schedule and demands, let me say "spent" is the perfect word. But somewhere deep inside we want to Christianize it into like... "weary". How many times a day do you say "behold, I grow weary?" Still with all that being said I'm still not sure if we will use "So Will I" congregationally. There's a tough tug between 'unique' and 'distracting', we'll see where it lands! Thanks so much for challenging us to slow down and consider our lyrics!

Hmm...conflicted

I can see both sides of the argument here about whether they're referring to actual evolution or not, and I think the mere fact that there is even a sliver of an argument means they should've found a different word or lyric. If your lyrics need explanation or cause any sort of controversy, even minute, then they are not going to be able to fully arrest the hearts of those who sing it. Any apprehension quiets the passion, and the last thing I want when I praise God is any sort of apprehensive thoughts causing distraction.

That's a great point on fully arresting the heart

Depending on your congregation it might not be appropriate at all.

At the same time maybe it forces me as the listener (on my own or in a group) to ask some important questions:

Do I believe God is truly sovereign over all?

Can I admit I don't know how He does everything?

If I get to heaven and find out God did create the earth over millions of years and used evolution, would that make Him smaller to me?

This song for me definitely falls on the art side of the spectrum and it does what good art does. It challenges me to think, pray and spend time at the feet of Jesus. The fact we are talking about it proves the point :) Great input!

Beautiful artistry

Personally I think we get wrapped up in minutia and try to demystify what we believe. This song helps paint the picture of Gods wonder and beauty. It doesn't matter how you think it happened. It's obvious that God's power and love brought us here. We should celebrate that and forever let us wonder about the mystery of his way.

Its does matter, Christianity and Evolution cannot coexist

It DOES matter what we believe about how we got here and how it happened. One cannot be a Christian and believe evolution for two foundational reasons:

1) Scripture tells us sin entered the world through ONE MAN's sin, and THROUGH HIS SIN, DEATH entered the world (Romans 5:12). How can that be if theistic evolution is true, because evolution tells us that over millions of years and many generations and deaths, we arrived here.

On one hand, scripture tells us sin came to the world before death. On the other, theistic evolution tells us that it's the other way around, that death came first, then eventually man got here and chose to sin which then brought more death. If death was already present before humanity was here, why is more death suddenly an affront to God's creation?

You can't have it both ways. The two belief systems are completely incompatible. The Bible would be in error in literally hundreds of places if theistic evolution were true.

2) The redeeming sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus would be negated and completely undermined because death (present long before man's sin and therefore not a result of it) would not be the penalty of man's sin but rather God's preexisting tool used to create life. The penalty of man's sin would not need to be lifted by a savior because it's not man's fault. Sin was already here and necessary to further creation. Can you see how insidious this deception is? Christ is unnecessary in this world view. No Christ, no Christian.

Evolution is just another carefully crafted lie with the weight of the establishment behind it. Read Frank Turek's excellent books "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist" and "Stealing from God" for easily understood scientific examinations that show how evolution completely crumbles through honest scientific scrutiny, common sense, reason, logic, and most importantly a solid grounding in scripture. You will realize how duped you've been in believing evolution and Christianity can coexist. Evolution is simply a case of "The emperor has no clothes."

Changing the Lyric...Thoughts?

So this is one of those songs that as a worship leader I want to do but am torn. I personally take no issue with any of the lyrics. However, I know it could become a divisive thing with some of our congregants which is not ever the goal. I am ok with making people uncomfortable for a purpose but not just because I like an abstract lyric.

What are your thoughts on changing a word or line in a song to make it reach your congregation better? Obviously we see this alot from artists. The most famous being the infamous sloppy wet vs unforseen debate where unforseen seems to have been substituted just to avoid people's discomfort (bleh).

I think these kinds of changes have to be done rarely and sparingly but I would hate to throw the whole song out as a possibility because of one word...

While I appreciate artistic integrity

congregational music is a tool and if you can make a song more accessible to your congregation with a change that doesn't commit blasphemy I say it's fine.

I wrote a song awhile back that fits my community but has a lyric that could make others uncomfortable. I would hope someone would change the lyric before ditching the song.

Changing the lyric

Thank you for asking this question. I was going to ask. My thoughts: I have not listened to the song yet, though I will this evening. The word evolve makes sense there, but in everyday usage it is a buzz word that most of my congregation would stand out and keep them from enjoying the song. Some might even think of it as 'progressive language' meant to make us more comfortable with [E]volution! There is not time in our setting to go into a detailed explanation with the whole congregation and, of course, I haven't yet heard the song to know if it would be worth that effort. As personal worship, after reading it in context, I may really like it, yet the word evolve would still stand out. Perhaps that would make me think more deeply about our creator and the change and growth he brings. Thank you for this question, jlfoster350, and thank you Jason for the article.

I will probably change the word to ... growing, moving, striving, running, changing (similar but not as offensive). None of these words, however, gives exactly the right meaning. Following, maybe? If anyone has a good idea, please post it!

Changing the lyrics

@Jamie T- I think if you wanted to change the lyrics it would be best suited to
Use the word ‘revolving’. A lot of people think it’s a slippery slope to mess with the artistic
Integrity of a song but I feel it’s more important as a worship leader to be that vessel to bringing
Congregations into a heart of worship. If there are lyrics that distract from that the choice I believe would be either to change the lyric or not do the song.

Praising Him before anything else does.

All of creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God (from Romans 8:19) Creation is looking to us, for the pattern of redemption. Why then, are we still in 2018, so many years from the Cross and resurrection, looking to creation for a pattern of whether or not we should worship? This song may sound beautiful but I will repeat: Why are we looking to creation for our reasons for worshipping Him? Long, long ago the "stars" were made to worship and a third of them fell away and ceased to worship Him. If we stick with the word "stars" as the metaphor that the Bible uses for the angelic hosts, this song becomes very problematic, if we look to them! In many other ways it is problematic. God is looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth. He isn't seeking those who do it out of obligation. He isn't seeking it just because we sense that everything was created to do that. Lucifer was specifically made with instruments of worship in him and look where he ended up! The Israelites declared that they "would do all that the Lord commanded" before Moses went up the mountian to get the Law. They had set their minds on the obligation.....we know how that all turned out! Should we appreciate His handiwork? Definitely! Of all of His handiwork though, we are the ones who were made in God's image and likeness and all He wants is our love response to sensing His love for us. He is "singing over us" Zephaniah tells us. How fitting is it then that we should sing back to Him! This song would be less problematic if it opened with a line that that said "Since I sense You singing to me, so will I". All His creation worshipping is not my reason for worshipping Him. The rocks can cry out to Him, if I don't, but that is not the reason why I do! He is such a loving Abba! He has given so much to us! He is so good! He is so beautiful! His handiwork is beautiful, but is only a reflection of His beauty! I hear His song over me and I want to sing back to Him....not only in song actually, but with a life that says " All I have, all I am is Yours! " It is the bondservant's response. I was set free completely by Him and I realized that He was the best Abba ever possible, the best Lord ever possible and my heart said "I don't want to go anywhere God, keep me in Your house forever". That is the worship response I want to always have and encourage from others. Then creation can look at us and say "If the sons and daughters of God can worship, so will I"!

Strong last line

Well said.

Why we need the stars

While you are not wrong that we have reasons outside nature to sing, scripture mentions many times the way that creation should and can inspire us to do so. Here are just a few of many examples:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭8:1, 3-4, 9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Romans 1 is fitting with this song’s theme in that while the very stars (literal stars, not metaphorical stars) are faithful to praise God, mankind is not always faithful. So while we *should* be leading the charge as humanity, as those created in God’s image, sometimes the unthinking yet worshipful stars rebuke our fickleness and need to remind us of who we are, and whose we are.

Am I missing something?

I came across this song today as it was sung in my church and I found it difficult to sing as a worship song. In fact I didn't sing it at all. I understand the age-old (and biblical) response to be amazed and inspired by nature, which can lead us to spontaneous worship and praise of our awesome Creator God. I do that often. But I have never, as a Christian, been challenged that any aspect of the natural world has a better relationship with God than me. God is my Father, Jesus is my Saviour and the Holy Spirit dwells within me, inspiring me and helping me pray and worship my God. When leading worship I have often opening our time of worship by encouraging the congregation that heaven and creation is in constant worship of God, and we (humankind) are 'part time' worshippers, but for the times when we align our hearts and live to give God glory, then we are in harmony with heaven and all creation. I find this a different encouragement than the one the song suggests.
I appreciate that this is purely my opinion and experience, but I have an issue with a couple of lines which perhaps someone can explain to me.
1) "If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I". I can't find a scripture verse in which the rocks are said to cry out in silence. When Jesus mentions rocks crying out, it was in response to the potential silence of God's people in their praise of Him. In other words, the metaphor is clearly an either/or. Why would I want to cry out in silence like rocks? I genuinely don't understand what this line means.
2) "If the sum of our praises still falls shy..." Again, I am struggling to find a scripture verse to explain this. Our worship of God is the way in which our lives react to His love for us. Worship is an active response based on our gratitude to our Saviour. Jesus told his disciples that the widow with a small offering to God was more righteous than the rich man who gave a lot of money, because her motivation was sincere and her sacrifice great. Her worship was acceptable. Therefore if our worship of God is genuine (ie. we live a life to honour and glorify God and not just sing songs about/to Him) then our praise will not fall shy. If our praise falls short, it is because of our sin. Nothing else. And therefore singing endless songs is not going to plug the gap. I find the suggestion that singing songs over and over being the way to increase the value of our praise to God to be, at best, misguided, and, at worst, theologically wrong.
There are several people who have made comment that they find all the words in this song to be biblical and I would be happy to have someone refer me to bible verses that help me understand their meaning.