Is The Name Of God The Sound Of Our Breathing?

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When I was on the 2010 Behold The Lamb Of God Christmas tour, I debuted one of the new songs from my upcoming record, A Way To See In The Dark. I was encouraged by how warmly it was received, and people have been asking about it ever since so I thought I’d share it and the story behind it here.

The song is called “The Sound Of Our Breathing” and it was inspired by a teaching I heard a few years ago about how God’s name, YHWH, is comprised of aspirated consonants that, spoken, are the sound of breathing.

It was a big concept that proved challenging to turn into a succinct lyric. I could have written it as a folksy singer/songwriter kind of song with twelve verses that took time to expound the idea, but when I was fishing for a melody and came upon what would end up being the pre-chorus (the name of God is the sound of our breathing / hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating), I fell in love with the idea of writing it as a pop/rock radio kind of song.  That was the most challenging way to write a challenging song, but I get excited about that kind of thing. The kind of songs we’ve come to expect to hear on the radio can sometimes be disappointing, but I haven’t given up on it and its listeners just yet (see my comment 27 below for thoughts about radio singles). So it felt very missional to me to write it this way and it was also an invigorating creative challenge.  Pop/rock anthem = less lyrics = really challenging when you have a big idea to convey.  I’m not sure it has radio potential – time will tell – but it was an good challenge creatively to write the song in that direction.

I was at a songwriter’s retreat a year ago in Eastern Washington and I brought the song to Doug McKelvey and Seth Mosely who were willing to tackle the challenge and bring it across the finish line with me. “The Sound Of Our Breathing” is the fruit of our labor and I hope you like how it turned out (you can listen to it at the bottom of this post)

For the special edition of the record, I wrote a piece about the idea that inspired the song and I’ve included that for you here. The song follows:

The Sound Of Our Breathing
Take a breath and breathe it out.  Do it again, slowly, and try to mean it.  Breathing – of all things maybe we take it most for granted. Do we ever wonder why we are built this way, this soft machine of ours always pumping oxygen in and out?

In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs. In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst. In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down. When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.  When I think about it, breathing looks almost like a kind of praying.

I heard a teaching not long ago about the moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what his name is.  God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.

Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels. But scholars have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, aspirated consonants that in the Hebrew alphabet would be transliterated like this:

Yod, rhymes with “rode”, which we transliterate “Y”
He, rhymes with “say”, which we transliterate “H”
Vav, like “lava”, which we transliterate “V” or “W”
He rhymes with “say”, which we transliterate “H”

A wonderful question rises to excite the imagination: what if the name of God is the sound of breathing?

This is a beautiful thought to me, especially considering that for centuries there have been those who have insisted that the name of God is so holy that we dare not speak it because of how unworthy we are. How generous of God to choose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive. All of us, always, everywhere, waking, sleeping, with the name of God on our lips.

In his Nooma video, Breathe, Rob Bell (a pastor whose obvious gifts of curiosity and a knack for asking provocative questions can get him into trouble) wonders what this means in key moments like when a baby is born – newly arrived on planet earth, must they take their first breath, or rather speak the name of God if they are to be alive here?  On our deathbed, do we breathe our last breath? Or is it that we cease to be alive when the name of God is no longer on our lips?

The most ironic of his questions is also the most beautiful: he wonders about the moment when an atheist friend looks across the table at you and says, “there. is. no. God”.  And of course what you hear is “Yod. He. Vav. He.”

There are few better illustrations of both God’s largesse as well as his humility, his omnipresence as well as his singular intimate presence within each of us.

Breathe in. Breathe out. “He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs… the word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth…” (Romans 8:28, 10:8 The Message)

[To pre-order A Way To See In The Dark in either the standard or special edition (which features stories like this and 8 additional tracks including an acoustic version of  “The Sound Of Our Breathing“, go to jasongraymusic.com. Pre-ordering will give you an instant download of the current single, “Remind Me Who I Am”.]

The Sound Of Our Breathing
Jason Gray, Doug McKelvey, Seth Mosely

[audio:soundofbreathing.mp3]

Everybody draws their very first breath with Your name upon their lips

Every one of us is born of dust but come alive with heaven’s kiss

The name of God is the sound of our breathing
Hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating

Breathe in, breathe out, speak it aloud Oh oh, oh oh
The glory surrounds, this is the sound Oh oh, oh oh

Moses bare foot at the burning bush wants to know who spoke to him
The answer is unspeakable like the rush of a gentle wind

The name of God is the sound of our breathing
Hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating

Breathe in, breathe out, speak it aloud Oh oh, oh oh
The glory surrounds, this is the sound Oh oh, oh oh

In him we live and move and have our being
We speak the name as long as we are breathing

So breathe in
Breathe out…

Doubters and deceivers, skeptics and believers we speak it just the same
From birth to death, every single breath is whispering Your name


58 Comments

  1. Tony Heringer

    I love this story from the video you posted a few weeks back. I look forward to reading through the post when I have some time to contemplate it. The idea for this song has really stuck with me since you shared that video. Thanks bro!

  2. Bruce Hennigan

    I heard you sing this song this past Christmas in Texas and it moved me so at that time I haven’t been able to forget it. Every time I am conscious of my breathing, I am reminded of your song. Thank you for giving me a personal reminder of the power and majesty and awesomeness of our God! As an apologist and author, this illustration is so powerful because EVERYONE breathes — to breathe is to live!

  3. James Witmer

    What a cool reminder that every breath is a gift from the creator, each one the result of His choice to give – and continue to give – us life. And also a reminder that Scripture says God is glorified, and will be glorified in all things, independent of our best efforts, or even our rebellion. Truly good news!

    I wasn’t sure about the song’s intro, but you had me won over by line two. =)
    And the “Oh oh, Oh oh” parts: Weezer-level catchy, Jason. (And I think few do “catchy” better than they.)

  4. Alyssa

    Two weeks ago my sister and I were sitting with our Mamaw on what turned out to be the day before she died. We felt she was gone already, sleeping and non-responsive. Her breathing was troubling — periods of fitful, strenuous breaths followed by slow, imperceptible ones. We were told that this was a normal sign of fading. Still it bothered us.

    But if I dare to believe this concept you’ve described is true, what a different day that turns out to be. To think that when her mind could not respond to a human’s touch or her son’s voice, her lips were speaking God’s name — it’s a wondrous thought. What an incredible gift to have heard such a holy song, the rhythm of His name breathed out as He gathered her home.

    Thank you, Jason. I’m going to be thinking about this for a long time.

  5. Tony Heringer

    Okay, I’ve had time to soak in the post and this song. It is most definitely a song that has great radio potential. I love the way you breathily sing the bridge and the ending is a classic Jason Gray finish reminding me of the end of I’m Not Going Down from All The Lovely Losers.

    Your thoughts brought my mind to a couple of passages. First this encounter with God by Elijah (1 Kings 19:11ff):

    And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

    The whisper, could that be “Yod. He. Vav. He?”

    Then this with Jesus and His discples (John 20:21ff):

    Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

    Jesus breathes on them, could that be “Yod. He. Vav. He?”

    Here’s a clip that includes that passage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMrs6rsd9Nw&feature=related

    Finally, the picture at the top of the post shows YHWH embossed on several passages of Scripture reminding me of this passage in 1 Timothy 6 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

    Thanks for the back story and the song, both are inspiring! Looking forward to the new album.

  6. Ugly Biscuit

    Beautiful. Profound. Amazing. Deep. Awesome.

    What a wonderful thought that i will now take as a truth.

    ‘God’s name is the sound of our breathing.’

    Pretty Perfect is what that is.

    As a side note, being new to Jason’s music, i have to say, i’m really excited about his new CD.

  7. Jeanete Hoffman

    When you came to His Place for New Year’s, this was my take home. The sound of our breathing could actually be the the automatic speaking of the name of God. Beautiful song. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

  8. josh williams

    the vowels that flesh out our transliterated version of Yaweh are definitely not abritrary. In fact, we don’t know exactly what the covenant name of God really is. Long story short, in an effort to keep from taking the Lord’s name in vain the writers of the Hebrew scriptures that our current english versions come from simply decided the best way to do that was to not use it at all. So they used a series of consonants that are unpronounceable to serve a place-holder for the name of God. That way they would know that when you see YHWH, that is God’s name, but it’s too holy to be written or spoken. I don’t necessarily like the fact that they did that, but they did do it.

    So in order to be able to pronounce the “name” of God, some of the writers of the masoretic texts decided to take the Hebrew vowels from the name “Adonai” and place them in the consonants that make up YHWH. As a result we end up with the pronounceable name “Yaweh”.

    Yaweh itself is closely related to a Hebrew verb that means “to be”, and this is very much consistent with the idea of perpetual life that is espoused in the notion of Yaweh being connected to the idea of breathing and thus taking on the connotation of the breath of life… Good thoughts on the subject. Sometimes though, it’s nice to know that some things are much more intentional than arbitrary.

  9. josh williams

    Actually, it’s not that they just stuck the vowels for Adonai into Yaweh. The reason we have an “a” and an “e” in Yaweh is because when early Hebrew people would see YHWH in the text, they would substitute the name Adonai in order to keep from taking the divine name on their lips. That is why the masorites (however you spell that) put the vowels from Adonai into the word YHWH: because it let readers know to use Adonai instead of saying the divine name.

    I’m a huge nerd… sorry…

  10. Donna

    Jason Gray. I am a yoga teacher who speaks about the breath all day and a few days ago I read this and went to my yoga mat for my daily practice. With each breath I heard the sound. With each inhale I breathe in the light, and with each exhale I prepare for the light. I knew the sound I was making. Not just believed–but KNEW.

    I am not very schooled in religion– I just know that your music and the Mars Hill Bible Church sermons have revealed some authentic truths waiting in my heart. I am a yoga teacher with a beloved partner and a thirst for knowledge. Your music has lit up my life. I will remember this blog entry. I needed to let you know- your music, your lyrics- moved me to study the bible– and to learn for myself about the sound of our breathing.

    Thank you.

  11. Tony from Pandora

    So is this why Norwegian pop band A-Ha wrote “Take On Me?” That by pronouncing the band’ name, you’ll be “taking on” the name of God?

  12. dawngreen

    Every year I invite different friends to share the BTLOG experience with me. In 2010 I brought a recently retired dear friend and another who desperately needs to know that Jesus is real and true. Both of them loved the message and the music of the show. We wept and laughed and in my case, sang along with every word. Driving home we discussed both music and message. The lesson of this song was one that resonated with each of us for totally different reasons. Especially for my friend who is struggling with her faith, this song spoke to her of God’s ever-presence and love for her.
    Often, when I pray aloud before our Sunday school class I am reminded of the fact that even our next breath is a gift from God. How amazing to imagine that even in that moment, He is giving us what sustains us—His very presence and name.
    Thank you for crafting a beautiful message in a way that is accessible to everyone. God bless you and your family as you continue your work putting His message and story into music.

  13. Shawn

    Jason,

    I just wanted to let you know how influential your words and songs have been to so many. I am the Administrator at a Christian school and as I completed preparations for this new school year I had a theme in mind regarding our identity that God wouldn’t let me feel completed. As I continued to search for the piece that was missing, I came upon your post regarding ‘Remind Me Who I Am.’ Wow. Nothing else could sum up and bring full circle the message God had placed on my heart to guide my staff throughout this year.

    I wanted you to know that our school theme this year is “Remind Me Who I Am.” I want to teach your song to our students and our praise band if you’ll let me. It’s the perfect circular theme in that when I ask someone what the theme for the year is, their response will be phrased as a request, allowing me and others to do just that – Remind them of God’s love for them, the greatness of God in manifested in their person, and their place as His child.

    As a side note, I used to live in southern MN and went through Janesville many times. I am in Aberdeen, SD now and would love to have you come up and play and minister to our school community. The proprietor will have my email address attached to this, and while we are in the process of updating our website, my contact info is there as well.

    Blessings to you and your ministry. I know that you look up to so many in this environment, but you need to know that I place you directly beside Ron in the theology department. I never fail to be blessed deeply by your insights and your journey. Thank you for using your gifts and being vulnerable enough to let God’s greatness shine so brightly in your life.

    P.S. – Can’t wait for the new album!

  14. Margret

    Wow, oh wow. I love this, Mr. Jason Gray. I love the idea that our breathe-in, breathe-out echoes the name of One who not only created us and called us into being but also longs for us to know that He is intimately involved in the details of our lives.

    And air waves? Oh. My. Goodness. Even though I’m no longer in the office world with a commute to corporation digs, I still do out-and-about while I run errands and meet with clients. How wonderful to know that this blessed song would waft through the air waves as I go about my day.

    By the way, for almost 3 wonderful years I’ve written a weekly post for the StereoTruth.net blog, the “owner” of whom is also a producer of the LA morning show for Salem Broadcasting. Would it help if I put a bug in that man of God’s ear? I don’t know how this works, having no experience in either radio or the music world, therefore my offer may hinder rather than help. If so, please tell me.

    All of Heaven’s best,
    Margret

  15. Donna

    Jason-

    One more note and a question:

    The song “I Am New” has been discussed in my family (a GREAT launching point for conversation) multiple times and just like another posted above, the song “Remind Me Who I Am” is a teaching theme for me this year. I am weaving the song into my September lessons. No, this is not a religious class at all, but a LIFE class, valuable valuable insights at every level. Expect a new fans on itunes as I played “Remind Me Who I Am” in class last week and was asked repeatedly to repeat the artist’s name.

    One question…will the extended/deluxe version of the new CD be available on itunes or is that exclusive to the centricity store?

  16. Jen

    Like a lot of others, I first heard this one live, and the story and the song haunted me ever since. A beautiful thought indeed… and the idea of God’s name being so holy centuries of people are afraid to even write it, yet so vital to life we can’t go a moment without speaking it. Kind of funny too, actually.

    I seriously hope this is a future radio single. It’s catchy, but deep, like a certain other song we know and love. ; )

    Margret: Hope it’s not presumptuous of me to jump on your question, but I think I can partially answer it! (from the radio end anyway)”Remind Me Who I Am” is the current single, so you should totally put a bug in his ear about that. =) Labels release songs one at time to radio… Not sure how singles are picked on the label side, but I hope this one makes the list!

  17. Matthew Benefiel

    Great thoughts! It brings so many things to mind that is it hard to think on one; but here are a few. One it brings back the simple reminder that we are frail beings who require breathing to live, which brings our focus on Christ, who we need to live in the spiritual sense as well. Two is reminds me of Romans 9 and how we all are vessels for God’s glory, but by His wonderful mercy and unfathomable love for such rebellious beings as we are, He fashions some for vessels of honor. These vessels’ hearts are opened and we have the overwhelming joy of recognizing each breath as speaking God’s name and praising Him. Praise be to God!

  18. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    I’ve been concerned since posting this that my comment about radio might be interpreted as judgmental toward radio or self-righteous. Since the post wasn’t about radio, I didn’t want to take too much space to talk about it in the post, but it’s been itching in my mind since I posted this, so I thought I’d scratch it and clarify.

    Many people I interact with don’t listen to Christian radio anymore because it’s not playing the kind of music they love. Many artists I know are often frustrated because the criteria for what you can and can’t do in a “radio” song feels constrictive and sometimes silly. For example, we’ve been told that you can’t write a radio single with the word “blood” in it, or talk about the “blood of Jesus” because it’s an image that is potent enough to turn off the core demographic of radio listeners. I think of the comments I heard coming from a handful of radio programmers about Andrew Peterson’s “Dancing In The Minefields” – that it was too violent an image for their listeners.

    It’s easy to get upset about this kind of thing – especially if you’re a lover of music, well-crafted lyrics, and that kind of thing. And I have spent many years being upset and discouraged about it. It’s hard to tell the truth if you have to be afraid of offending the listener all the time.

    That can be disheartening to most of the music-makers I know. Many serious songwriters are tempted to give up trying to write toward radio, abandoning it altogether. But abandoning a thing isn’t going to change it or make it better, and I think if our best songwriters give up on radio, we won’t hear our best songwriters on the radio. Does that make sense? So it’s meaningful for me as an artist to be conscientious of song ideas that seem like they could capture people’s imagination and wonder about writing that song in such a way that it might work as a radio single.

    In other words, it seems more constructive to do something about the matter than to complain about it. “The Sound Of Our Breathing” is the kind of concept that I thought I’d be happy about hearing on the radio, and so I tried to write it that way. A better, more able songwriter probably could have done it better, but I guess I was the one who showed up.

    Another thing about radio is that the core audience isn’t people like me. It’s more for the average person who turns it on in their car on their way to work. They aren’t necessarily music aficionados. They are more likely to be overworked or stressed out moms looking for a few minutes of respite and encouragement during their short time in the car. They aren’t looking to engage a deep theological issue, or to look deep into what’s broken in their lives. They aren’t looking for questions (which is what the best Christian art often does: ask the better question). No, they are more than likely looking for escapism during their commute that isn’t going to do damage to their hearts like secular radio might.

    The tricky thing with all of that is that the serious Christian artist isn’t in the business of creating escapist art. The best and most worthy artists I know create art in order to draw people into deeper engagement and connection with the truth. This is often at odds with the sensibility of the average radio listener, and therefore also the music director who picks the songs to play for them. Don’t hate the playa…

    This is all a gross oversimplification, but gets in the ballpark of the dynamic that’s at work here. I think most of us hope that radio can help artists better serve their calling, but actually it’s the other way around, if artists hope to get radio airplay, they probably have to learn how to help radio better serve their calling – which is to serve the people who tune into their station.

    So all that to say – with no judgment or self-righteousness – I thought “The Sound Of Our Breathing” was the kind of song that might be cool to write as a 3 and 1/2 minute hook driven pop/rock song that gets to the chorus in under a minute. It seemed to me like the kind of song that I would be grateful to hear on the radio.

    It’s pretty conceptual and probably hard to understand what it means without the story to precede it, so as it stands now I don’t think it will work as a radio single. I tried, but alas… Maybe I should’ve written it as a the twelve verse folk song after all 😉

    Parting thought – many, many of the radio people I meet really want to find great songs that will serve their audience well and even stretch them. I think of the way “Dancing In The Minefields” was embraced. That was a win for everyone! A great song that made Christian radio better and served their audience really well. I think the quality of songs that get airplay is getting better and deeper. There are a lot of great people in the world of radio who are looking for the kind of song that has significant content and that won’t drive their listener to change the station. There’s a heart among many of the radio people I meet to look for those kinds of songs, so I think that’s encouraging and worth getting excited about.

  19. James Witmer

    Jason,

    I understood exactly what you meant about radio – I have a love-hate relationship with it, even as a listener.

    I am actively studying this song because, as a writer, I could learn at lot from how much you communicate with a couple two-line verses and a pre-chorus. I suspect you choose every syllable with great care. =)

  20. Matthew Benefiel

    Thanks for sharing the follow up Jason. I’m afraid I’m one of those non-radio people mainly because I tend to hear the same things that don’t challenge m. Plus they, as you say are centered around the “uplifting” and “inspirational,” which are not bad; it is just hard for me to be uplifted until I’m cast down (if that makes sense).

    I have to hear the “Grace by Which I stand” and “Fool With a Fancy Guitar” before I can hear “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” and so on. In other words I have to forget myself and my troubles and be reminded of what I’ve been saved from, I don’t tend to get that with the few minutes of radio I hear. I’m glad you haven’t given up though, too often we do leave something behind because we don’t like it, when leaving doesn’t do anything to help or grow the source. I pray someday that radio can learn from King David in his Psalms, you can’t realize God’s grace without first realizing His justice.

  21. Loren

    What an amazing concept! (And I love the song, too) I got to share this idea with my extended family last week on vacation–I only wish I could have shared the song, too, but my internet connection wasn’t up to it. However my family loved the idea and it got us going on even more conversation about our lives and God working in our lives. So powerful. Thank you for sharing this.

  22. carrie luke

    YES!! I’ve waited 8 months to get my hands on this song! If you ask my 10 year old what she remembers from ’10 BTLOG Charlotte…she’ll say, “The song about God and our breathing.”

    Thanks, Jason!

  23. Jen

    Jason: I wasn’t seeing judgement or self-righteousness in your comment (but I wouldn’t expect that from you anyway). I am really glad you came back and clarified though, because I value your insight on radio from an artist and music lover’s perspective. For a “gross oversimplification,” you actually nailed it. 🙂

    It’s true; it’s easy to get cynical and write off radio and the people who listen to it, but to first take the time to understand radio’s mission and then stretch yourself to help meet those needs without compromising your art… That’s no small task and I respect you for it. Your efforts are honoring to the people who work in radio and the listeners who find hope and grace there. Please don’t forget that when you’re trying to write a 3.5 minute pop song.

    I could go on for pages about this, but it’s probably not the place to do it. So I’ll just say thanks. This was very encouraging to me today! (and I agree about the better/deeper song quality lately… Good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!)

  24. Rachel

    I am that “stressed out mom” looking for a few minutes of respite and encouragement some of the time, but I am also the artist and intellectual hungry for deeper engagement and better music than the standard fare on Christian stations. I am so grateful to this website for feeding me spiritually, artistically, musically . . .
    Thank you!

  25. Aaron

    Oh… And I would love to hear this song on the radio. Cuz maybe if the sound of our breathing is the name of God, the sound of our laughing is, too.

  26. matt s.

    @Josh Williams (15 and 16) – you are almost right. The vowel sounds for “Adonai” (literally “my lord”) – [a-o-a] – were, in fact, “inserted” into YHWH in order that there would be a way to pronounce the name of God without using it in an unholy manner. It was never the intention of the Masoretes or any Jews to pronounce these vowels as “Yahweh” though, but rather just to read the vowel points as “Adonai.” There are even occasions in the Masoretic text where you see the vowels for “Elohim” used – it’s all for ease of pronunciation. Interestingly enough, the addition of “Adonai”‘s vowels didn’t result in the word/pronunciation “Yahweh” (adding only a-e) but “Jehovah” Y-a-H-o-W-a-H. So that’s where that word came from! The pronunciation Yahweh comes from the tetragrammaton (YHWH) itself and an understanding that the letters grow out of a conjugation of the Hebrew root meaning “to be.” As you say, it’s nerdy stuff, but it is important.

    In other news, Jason, it’s a beautiful song and a poignant thought.

  27. The Dancing Jackalope

    Now that I was able to watch bell’s video I think I understand. I will say that elements of this idea are interesting, even convicting, in light of scriptures like Mathew 15:8. It is a nice idea; even so I don’t really see much of a foundation for it in scripture.

    I wondered at first what the point was, but, after watching Mr. Bell’s video, I get it and I can only say: “beware the spurious glitter of pantheism.” Bell has a fairly sensational idea here that sounds intriguing. Indeed there may be a little something to it. But ask yourself: is it true that everyone has God in them? Is the breath of life really the same thing as the Spirit of God? Didn’t Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 distinguish between the first Adam and the second Adam by saying that the first was a living spirit (contingent and derived) and the second was a life giving spirit (a self-existent source of life)? And how can all ground be holy? Where does the notion come from that the ground Moses stood on with bear feet was always holy? I don’t see that in the text. My understanding has always been that it was made holy in the moment because God had sanctified it by the glory of his presence. The scriptures frequently make distinctions between things and people that are holy and things and people that are not.

    It seems to me that bell is blending the concepts of life, spirit, breath and God’s name all together in order to push a kind of pantheism; that being the idea that God is all and all is God; which is to say that God is trapped in or somehow indistinguishable from his creation. I would hope this is unintentional on his part, but that is what it amounts to. I hate to be the one objecting here but it wouldn’t be very loving of me to stay quiet on this. Delete me if you will, but disagreeing is not inherently unkind; it is often the best means of growth and progress. The wounds of a friend can be faithful. This teaching, in my estimation, is at best unsafe and in the main comes more from the Vedas than the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

    I would encourage you to step back and check these things (both what I say and what bell says) carefully in light of scripture before embracing it as truth. Again, there may be some relation between our breathing and God’s name but Y, H and V are not the only aspirated consonants in Hebrew. Generally our unconscious natural exhaling breaths are unformed and would really only be represented by “He” (pronounced hay). Employing the letters of YHVH in our breathing suggests the use of God’s name as a chant to blank out the mind which is a practice condemned by YHVH. We are specifically told by Him to pray, not to chant (Matt 6:7&8). We are relating to a personal and real God, not an impersonal force or vibration that is in all things. Take care, my brothers, that you not be deceived or led astray. May His wisdom give you discernment in this matter and may you be kept in His name and His peace.

  28. The Dancing Jackalope

    @Mat S. well said. This is a much more accurate translation of the name and hits the real point of the text; that being that God is uncreated and self-existent. He is distinct from creation. This is why his name is translated “I AM WHO I AM” or the “I AM.” He doesn’t say, in the context of exodus 3: “I am the breath of life.” Now certainly God is both transcendent and immanent but He is distinct from creation.

  29. Tony Heringer

    DJ,

    I think you are over thinking a 3 minute pop song. The title is “The Name Of God Is The Sound of Our Breathing” not “God is our breathing or breath or even the wind beneath our wings” (the latter being another song altogether — a sappy one too!).

    I took this metaphor as further indication that “man is without excuse” when it comes to belief in the one true God (Psalm 19, Romans 1, etc.) and that we are reminded of the Giver and Sustainer of life even with each breath we breathe. All of mankind is in this state because we all bear God’s image.

    Therefore no one can fully deny God because His Name is literally upon their lips all the time. And one day everyone will admit not only this basic truth but that He is Lord of all (Phil 2). That’s pretty cool. I don’t think the song sets up a theological danger just a whimsical pondering. Rob Bell? Well, he’s on his own and can come here to chat about his video and any other controversy he wants to stir up any time he wants. 🙂

  30. The Dancing Jackalope

    You may be right about over thinking things. It drives my wife crazy sometimes; especially when we listen to Christian radio. I would completely agree with your sentiments. They are well said and well taken. I think the weight of my critique was on Rob Bell’s particular teaching. But by extension I suppose I am critiquing the song as well; in as much as it carries the same meaning that Rob Bell is assigning to his words and teaching.

  31. Tony Heringer

    DJ,

    It’s all good, that’s what this place is all about. I’ll defer to Mister Gray as to the connection between the song and Rob Bell.

    Love the handle by the way, my wife and I love the whole Jackalope idea. It’s been a running joke with us for years.

  32. Sally

    I am so touched by all this….the Name of God trumps all, of course, but I love the detailed study and discussion of how wonderful God is….to give us ideas and the breath to express them to others! Truly, Jason, I don’t know you personally, but I know you spiritually! Keep bringing us inspiration and fresh revelation!
    I am a Christian…and a poet! I would like to see some of my poetry become songs if others would be blessed by them!
    I am thrilled by the revelation of “breath” that God has given you…keep up the great work!
    The Lord be praised forever!
    Sally

  33. sallie kate

    What a blessing that the Lord gave you this truth to share! So profound.

    Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
    Psalm 150:6

  34. Elizabeth of the Kirk in the Woods

    Hey Jason, I’ve been really loving this concept and was planning on writing a speech on it to present as a part of a “speech and debate club” I’m a part of. I was wondering if you could tell me where you heard the teaching/where to find some more information in general.

    Thanks! 🙂

  35. The sound of our breathing… « jenny and tyler's blog

    […] Somehow I managed to get through college as an English major without reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I think I was supposed to for one of my classes at some point, but I never did. I brought the first two books with me (The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) to Portland and read them on the plane. Oh my goodness. They make me want to love Jesus more. Seriously. There is a scene in The Magician’s Nephew where Aslan is creating Narnia by literally breathing life into the earth. He breathes and flowers spring up, waters form, animals come to life, etc. It’s absolutely stunning. It reminded me of Jason Gray’s song “The Sound of our Breathing.” In it Jason asks the question, “What if the name of God is the sound of our breathing?” It’s the idea that our breathing whispers the name Yahweh. That we are worshiping just by being alive. I really can’t explain it well so I will leave you with a link to his blog: http://www.rabbitroom.com/2011/08/is-the-name-of-god-the-sound-of-our-breathing/ […]

  36. napen

    i read in a site saying that the Name of God is in the Holy Bible, though Moses ask for the Name to tell his people, but he was only answered by the word “I am that I am”, meaning he was given the permission to tell the Name to his people in his time only to lead them out of Egypt. So, in Deut. 18:18-19, he was told that another prophet will come, that will speak in the Name of the God. So, it did not indicate in what time in our history that that prophet will come, but his sign is that he will only say what God tells him to say… and the sign that he is sent forth by God is that he will reveal God’s Great Name.

    The site is: http://www.thename.ph, or if you want to go directly to the revelation of the Name of God, go to: http://thename.ph/thename/thename1/index-en2.html. Thank you.

  37. The Dancing Jackalope

    Just a few of thoughts for Napen…

    First, according to Deuteronomy 29:29, all that was reveled to and through Moses belongs to “us and our children forever.” This would indicate that those who are heirs of the promise are heirs of the revelation given to Moses.

    Secondly, I think Eraño M. Evangelista has misunderstood the nature of mercy and grace. He quotes passages that declare God is gracious and compassionate and yet he insists that that we must save our selves by what we do. The problem with that is that as soon as salvation is the product of what we do it is no longer an issue of mercy. It is now and issue of justice. We deserve it, it is justly ours. Salvation is no longer the product of grace or mercy which is always a choice that belongs to the judge of an offense.

    Thirdly Eraño M. Evangelista insists that there is no predestination when the scriptures insist other wise. He claims to have access to the true name of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob but forgets Malachi’s burden “Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated.” In other words Jacob was chosen by God (according to Genesis 25: 23) over Esau before they were even born. And God says clearly in Exodus 33 “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and have mercy on whom I will have mercy” scripture abounds in the old testament with clear indication of God’s election, most obviously with his People Israel; a people whose election did not depend on what they did but depended on God’s mercy. If it were not by mercy He would not have given them a sacrificial system of atonement attached to the law so that they did not come under judgment.

    Fourth I think it strange that Eraño M. Evangelista would make any use of the book of Revelation since it is, from verse one, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The pictures of the lamb and the keeper of the key of David (see deut 18:15 by the way), in context clearly points to Jesus. If the religion of Jesus Christ is a lie, as Eraño M. Evangelista insists, if Jesus is a false prophet, why is Eraño M. Evangelista resting his revelation on Jesus’ revelation? Wouldn’t that be a violation of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:22?

    Lastly I see that Eraño M. Evangelista claims to be the lamb who is worthy to open the scroll. The lamb which Revelation speaks of, in context, is one who “appears to have been slain” which carries the significance in scripture of one who atones for sin by sacrifice, which Jesus has already done. I, personally, would be willing to consider Eraño M. Evangelista a Christ when he has fulfilled psalm 22 and Isaiah 53; when he has been slain for my sin and has physically risen from the dead.

    Eraño M. Evangelista is right about one thing, though: “Any good book without knowing its author will be a puzzle to anyone who will read it.”
    And so he testifies against himself. You might consider erano in light of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:22.

  38. Richard H. Pratt, Ph.D.

    Very Nice. There are many Names for God, that carry with them the same basic sounds, which are: Wa, He, Ya, O and YOHO. Such as the native American God Names: Wakan, Wani, Weh Yah (note this reversal of YahWeh), and Haya. We see in the Buddhist Mantra, NAM YOHO RENGE KYO… These sounds as well. The Eckankar sect which came out of Sant Mat (Saints Path)…says HU is the primal sound of God. To the Sikhs, WAHE GURU, is the name that means “Beautifull Bringer of Light”. To the Hindus, it is OM, AUM, OMKAR and many others. ALLAH and ALAHA, were used by Jesus often during his earthly life, along with AWOON and ABBA. We should never denigrade the name of God from another faith. So we have a sort of built in feeling for the primal sound of Gods name, that runs through all races and tribes of Man.

  39. Travis Christians

    Hey J,

    So I got to watching this video… Yawning

    , and I some how remembered you posing the same idea about this song at camp. It was such a beautiful thought; I think about it now and a yawn is simply a large breath.

    I can find humor and joy in thinking that my yawns could be more than simply speaking the name of God, rather, they could be shouting it!

    This idea behind it is wonderful because we yawn when we are tired and weary, so we shout out to God in those times. Also, yawns seem to be contagious, so when we yawn, other people are prone to yawning as well.

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