We sat down with Emily Hearn Harrison, featured vocalist on “By My Side,” to talk about the new single from North Point InsideOut, song stewardship & worship leadership!
Hey Emily, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! “By My Side” was first introduced at some North Point events earlier this year. Can you tell me a little about how it was introduced and how you began leading the song?
Yes! We first introduced the song at myLIFE at the beginning of 2018. We were going through a bunch of song options for the event and heard the demo of “By My Side” that Steve Fee had written with David Leonard & Patrick Mayberry. It was such a personal and intimate song, and we loved it. We made the decision to lead it at one of the worship sessions and it went over super well. After the team led it a few times with a male vocalist, they asked me to begin singing it. It was a different dynamic, and after the event I went down to Destin and recorded my vocals on it. That led to “By My Side” being one of our favorite songs from The Walk a few months later.
What are you hoping people get from the song?
I think we’re all prone to stay busy and distracted with schedules and screens. It’s hard to zoom out from that. Even our time with God can feel distracted; there’s always a low hum in the background of things that need our attention. I was recently in a season where I was struggling to hear from the Lord, and one day I remember telling him that I wasn’t sure he was a good Father. It felt like He was the kind of Father that heard my prayers and struggles, but wasn’t giving me an answer and letting me suffer on my own. Later that same day, I was listening to Christy Nockel’s podcast, and she began talking about sheep and shepherds. Sheep have a tendency to keep their head down, and it causes them to become super stubborn and hard to guide. That’s why the staff of the shepherd is designed, just long enough, with the hook at the end to lift up their head from a distance so they can see and be guided. It’s the same with us. So often we get our heads down, looking at our own situations while not even realizing that God is literally right there, by our side, and all He wants is for us to look up at Him. He’s teaching us things through the hard circumstances and through the silence. That made the song come alive for me in such a profound way and made it applicable. That’s actually how I set the song up before we introduced it at The Walk. It was an acoustic morning, and I just stood up there and bared by soul, which was super scary but so worth it. And I think me being honest about struggling to hear from the Lord really helped set the tone and make the song personal to them too.
What is one of the most important things you take into consideration when introducing a new song like this to your congregation?
The main thing that I do is to put myself in the place of the ones being led. I think people tend to like songs they already know the best. They might even say that they don’t like learning new songs, that it’s not fun. But once they know the new song, that’s the fun part. When teaching it, you run the risk of some people feeling disengaged or disappointed. I try to make it as personal and applicable as possible by unpacking some of the lyrics or teaching the chorus beforehand so that when it rolls back around, it’s familiar to them. We try to teach no more than one new song a set, and make sure it’s surrounded by songs they do know to get them excited about learning it.
In regards to song stewardship, is there a difference in how you lead songs you’ve written and songs you haven’t?
For some reason I don’t think so. Of course, songs I’ve helped write have a personal meaning for me, but so many of the songs I’m leading become personal to me too. So I lead them from the same place; sifting through and praying through what it means to lead them and finding the parts that stick out to me. I’ve learned to do that with every song I’m asked to carry. It’s funny, some of the songs that the other guys in the band have written almost feel more personal to me than the ones I’ve been part of. It’s like they were reading my journal or something. And maybe that’s because we’re like family and God is leading us collectively, teaching us the same thing.
That leads into my last question: What’s your favorite thing about being part of the North Point InsideOut crew and leading worship at North Point?
Honestly, they’re my best friends. I met the guys about 7 years ago, and from then until now we’ve grown together as a family. We hang out a lot outside of Sundays and events we lead; and that growth offstage has completely changed the way we lead together onstage. We’re walking our faith out together. I know it might be hard to make it happen for some worship teams, but spending time together off the platform allows room for genuine leadership and unification to happen from the platform. It has been so cool to see that happen, whether we’re leading adults or students, and having an impact in our church community.
You can listen to the song and download the mp3 + chord chart here! Emily Harrison is part of the North Point InsideOut band based in Alpharetta, Georgia. For more information, visit http://npinsideout.com.