Song of the Week - How He Loves - John Mark McMillan

Every once in a while, you come across a song that has been hanging around the periphery of your awareness, that suddenly comes into sharp focus. It's kind of like "Oh, I've heard that song before." but all of a sudden you hear it for the first time.

Such is the case (for me, anyway) with "How He Loves" by John Mark McMillan. I knew the song was out there, somewhere, but didn't pay a lot of attention to it. Then, last week, I was at a youth service as part of a larger event I was participating in. The worship team did this song as the finale of their set, and it was a tremendous moment - they must have played the song for ten or twelve minutes as youth flooded the altar.

The song has an odd structure to it, I'll grant. It's done in 6/8 time, which is not "natural" for many people to sing in our 4/4 world. The cadence of the verses make it a song one needs to concentrate on a bit, and the phrasing of some of the lyrics is not something one might find in a typical worship song.

Part of the power of the song comes from its backstory: McMillan wrote it out of grief for a friend, a youth leader and John Mark's best friend, who was killed in a car accident. The song was written the day after. It really tells the story of Steve meeting Jesus, and coming to a deeper understanding of His love.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,I am unaware
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

The song paints some rather descriptive, poetical images of the love of God: Glory eclipsing afflictions, God's love as a "sloppy wet kiss" and His Grace as "an ocean" that "we're all sinking" in.

The real moment of the song is the chorus:

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Like most great worship songs, "How He Loves" is very simple; written originally in the key of C, it's progression is repeated throughout the whole song: C-Am7-G-F. There are a lot of dynamics in the song, from the almost a capella verses to the thunderous chorus.

The song was first released on John Mark's 2005 sophomore album The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down. (This is one of the most incredible titles I've ever heard, by the way) It was covered by Jesus Culture on their We Cry Out CD/DVD, graced by Kim Walker's amazing vocals.

Two upcoming CD's (ironically released on the same date, Sept 22) will feature the song as well: Jared Anderson's Live from My Church and David Crowder* Band's Church Music. (In fact, it's the first single off of Church Music.) I've heard both: Anderson's version might become the go-to example for church worship teams to emulate, and the Crowder version is by far my favorite of all.


  1. Wow add Jared Anderson to the list now too! Yeah I love this song. Heard Kim Walker do it and Eddie Kirkland before I found John Mark's and found the story just incredible! I LOVE the simplicity! I LOVE the "if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking" line, it's my favorite. It's such a simple chorus wrapped up in this actually very meaty song which is great it not only our 4/4 world but also a world where unfortunately some worship songs can be as empty as pop music.

    I was a bit disappointed though because now we have John Mark, Kim Walker/Jesus Culture, Eddie Kirkland, David Crowder*Band, Jared Anderson, Jeremy Riddle, Mandy Miller, The Glorious Unseen, and a slew of unknowns putting out the song as well. It's the churning of Christian music that makes me vomit in my mouth :( I thought they went overboard with Mighty to Save...sheesh.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts