Gospel Jazz Project – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I’ve always love this old gospel tune since I first heard it when I first gave my life to Jesus many years ago. It had to be one that I would work up as an instrumental gospel jazz song. I don’t remember all of the lyrics but the first stanza has stuck with me for years. It’s a wonderful reminder to not get weighed down by the stuff we deal with in this temporary world. Our life in Jesus is for eternity and is of more infinite worth than anything in this world.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
(by Helen H. Lemmel}

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

“Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3)

The Gospel Hymn Project: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

When my kids were small (they’re grown adults now), our family attended a young church where I was involved with the music ministry. Occasionally, I’d work up a jazz arrangement of a favorite church hymn and play it as a solo guitar piece. It’s been years since I’ve played those jazzy hymns and I just recently decided to start doing them again. Those wonderful old hymns have encouraged many people, myself included, for years. The songs are simple enough that they lend themselves to be easily re-purposed into other musical genres.

This piece was a fun song to work on as I did it as an acoustic guitar piece along with a smooth jazz arrangement in the same recording. I did a couple of different versions of it. One I did on classical guitar (my favorite version) and the second one on acoustic steel string guitar. I did a video for that version on my video page here on this website.

My plan is to do a collection of Jazz hymns and I wanted to start with this particular song first because it is my own personal statement of commitment of faith to follow Jesus. This was a decision I made when I was a young man of 23, after seeing and hearing the Gospel lived out by a number of people I was encountering in my life. It was a point of surrender to God who had been pulling at my heart for a years prior. So after thinking back at the way my life was impacted and changed, I wanted to honor what God has done (and continues to do) for me and my family by starting on this Gospel Hymn Project.

The Amazing Story Behind This Song

The history of this song is an amazing story of bold faith and commitment in the face of persecution against people against Christians. I’ve included an inspiring video below that tells the story. But as a prelude to that, the following is the background of the hymn from Wikipedia:

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is a Christian hymn that originated in Assam, India. According to P. Job, the lyrics are based on the last words of Nokseng, a Garo man, a tribe from Meghalaya which then was in Assam, who converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of an American Baptist missionary. He is said to have recited verses from the twelfth chapter of the book of John as he and his family were killed.”

The lyrics…

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus,
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Please Help: Persecution against Christians is growing at an astronomical rate globally. If you’re interested in learning more about it and what you can do to help, please check out Open Doors and the wonderful work that they are doing around the world. Please join me in supporting this vital ministry for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Triumphant Kingdom

Description: “Triumphant Kingdom” is a tune that I wrote and arranged in a jazz/rock fusion vein. I had recruited my friend, Italian multi-instrumentalist, Giorgio Finetti to play the violin part on this tune.

I was going after something that sounded epic in it’s mood. I was trying to capture, in a musical sense, the age old conflict between good and evil, God and the rebellion in Heaven against Him by fallen angels. The instrumentation was written to create the mood of elevated pride, arrogance, and a war-like chaotic aggression in the harmonic structure, horn arrangement and electric guitar solos versus the sense of holiness, righteousness, goodness and purity demonstrated by the strings/violin and the Spanish guitar work. The end of the piece ends with a Heavenly chord ringing out to demonstrate the Triumph of God and His Kingdom. The message is that good will ultimately triumph over evil. The ultimate victory was gained in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ through which His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and those who come to faith in Christ have a new life through accepting Him and identifying with His resurrection.

Origin of the Song Concept

The past couple of years I’ve been reading through a series of books written as a a dramatic biblical saga by author and screenwriter Brian Godawa called “The Chronicles of the Nephilim” (8 books) and “The Chronicles of the Apocalypse” (4 books) depicting the unseen conflict and the war over the souls of humanity. The books read like “The Lord of the Rings” and would be a treat for anyone who likes that genre of literature. Godawa drew his inspiration from, a book by biblical scholar Dr. Michael Heiser. Heiser’s book is called “The Unseen Realm”, which I also read. I include some details below about the books.

Additional inspiration came from the scriptures for my song portraying this “cosmic chess match” between the 2 rival kingdoms, God and the fallen ones. The verses below paint the picture and are not the only ones but they are the key ones. If you read them like you’re reading a novel, you’ll see the picture develop:

Genesis 3:15
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

These were the words that God spoke over the deceiving Fallen One and Adam and Eve in the Garden. This foretold of the rivalry that would play out in history.

Genesis 6:2-5
“the sons of God (angelic beings) saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years”. The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them (hybrids). These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Isaiah 14:12-14
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the North. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Ezekiel 28:13-17
You were in Eden, the garden of God. … I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. … and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground.

John 10:10
“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 3:16 & 17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

2 Corinthians 11:14
“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

Ephesians 6:12
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

1 John 5:4-5
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:19
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

Revelation 12:7-11
“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

The Hidden Mystery of the Ages


This is another one of my jazz/rock fusion tunes. As in some of my other tunes, I wrote horn parts into this one as I’ve been very influenced by horn sections. I had played in a few bands that had horns and I loved the sound. This one featured my friend Richard Grose, from North Carolina, playing drums and Italian violinist, Georgio Finetti.

About the Recording…

Honestly, the recording quality and mixing of the song is lacking and if it wasn’t for the fact that I deleted the original track files, I would redo the mix. I may revisit doing this one over again sometime in the future.

Inspiration for the Song

The inspiration of this song came from a phrase that continually captivated my imagination every time I read it in the Bible:

The mystery of the ages was a term used in the New Testament writings of Paul the Apostle. In his letters to the churches he referred to the mystery of the Gospel: the virgin birth of Jesus, His death on the cross paying the penalty of our sins for our salvation, his burial in the tomb and His resurrection proving that He is the Son of God. Paul said that the mystery of the Gospel was HIDDEN for ages.

The prophesy of the appearing of Christ and His birth, death and resurrection and his purpose was woven and embedded all through scripture for many hundreds of years before Christ and wasn’t clearly understood until after the events occurred. It was cleverly hidden from, not only humanity, but also from God’s adversaries ruling in the kingdom of darkness (and at work in the world) so that they wouldn’t know the plan that would ultimately cause the death blow to Satan’s authority over humanity.

(Colossians 1:26) “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.”

(Ephesians 3:3-6) “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

(Ephesians 1:7-11) “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

(1 Corinthians 2:7-9) “No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him”.

Through the Veil

The inspiration for “Through the Veil” is the mysteriously amazing glimpse of Heaven and the afterlife that we are given in the Bible. It’s the thought of leaving this material and physical plane of existence which is temporal and passing through the veil into another realm, God’s realm, where we continue to eternally exist and forever live in the presence of God’s love permeating, charging and lighting the atmosphere of His holy realm. I have heard some remarkable testimonies of people who have temporarily left this life during some tragedy and caught a glimpse of God’s eternal realm before being brought back to life medically.

The promise God gives in His Word that I will be with Him in eternity is personally very dear and precious to me and I hold onto that promise with all that I have in me. His promise is RICH with the love and grace that He extends to all of us is beyond comprehension. Namely that there’s nothing that I can ever do that will be good enough to earn my way into his Kingdom because everything I’d do would be tainted with my own sin, my selfish motives and my imperfection. Because God is perfect and Holy, sinful people cannot dwell in His presence and we are all deserving of eternal separation from Him. But in His rich mercy and grace, He made the way by sending his Son Jesus in the likeness of sinful man, but perfectly sinless, laid down His life in our place, paying the penalty of death and our sin-debt in full and taking all of our sins upon Himself and the full wrath of God the Father and giving us His righteousness instead.

(1 Corinthians 15:42-43 Amplified Bible) “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The [human] body that is sown is perishable and mortal, it is raised imperishable and immortal. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in strength; it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. As surely as there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.”

(Revelation 21:4-5) “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

(Revelation 21:19-23) “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst [these last two stones are unknown or only exist in heaven today]. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

(Revelation 22:5) “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”