In July of 2018, Lauren Daigle released the song “You Say” as the lead single of her up-coming album Look Up Child and it shook the Christian music world. The raw emotion and conviction she put into this song resonated deeply and spread like wildfire. It rocketed to the top of the charts almost instantly. It has since spent 35 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart, which is the longest of any solo artist in the chart’s history!
This song isn’t just playing on Christian radio stations, either. It’s playing on Top 40 stations, secular pop stations, and other adult contemporary stations. Lauren was even awarded a 2019 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. She’s performed on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Ellen Show (do you know how many MILLIONS of people watch those shows?). Because of Lauren’s obedience, they’ve now all heard what God says about them and how much He loves them.
So, what makes this song so powerful?
Feel of the Song
The song starts off gently; just a piano, some vocal “ooh” sounds mixed with strings, and her vocals. Lauren’s voice is incredibly unique and beautiful. She has a gravelly, hoarse tone when she sings in the lower register, but once she starts to project and sing higher, her voice becomes clear and bright. It fits this song perfectly because her voice conveys so much emotion. While she’s singing through the first verse and chorus, the instruments are low and quiet, then build during the second verse. Her voice remains strong and commanding throughout the song, even on the quieter parts.
As the drums come in during verse two, their beat is reminiscent of a slow, tribal, marching rhythm. The drummer doesn’t use cymbals, except the occasional high-hat. It’s entirely driven by the bass drum and the toms. This gives a steady, “marching forward” feeling to the song, as if encouraging the listener to keep pressing forward.
Even into the second chorus, the song is still building. The strings and piano are louder, the choir behind Lauren has increased, and the drums are pounding away. Then suddenly, all instruments except piano and some strings drop out for the third verse. This causes the listener’s attention to focus solely on the words she sings. The wonderful thing about “You Say” is that it’s not a song over-saturated by instruments and sounds; the sole focus is the lyrics and the message behind them.
Lyrics and Meaning
The lyrics in “You Say” are deep and honest. They’re a reminder to our souls of what God has already told us 1,000 times in His word: We are loved, strong, held, and we are His. Lauren wrote a short article for CCM Magazine on the reason she wrote “You Say” stating, “I think a lot of times we build these complexes based on insecurity, based on fear, based on rejection, and lies that we have to constantly overcome. And so this song for me was just a reminder of identity.”
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know
With “You Say,” Lauren has put prayer to music. She’s telling God about all these things going on in her head and she’s hurting. She is acknowledging that her feelings and thoughts about herself can be somewhat negative or opposite of what God says. But instead of wallowing in that hurt, she hands it over to God and proclaims His word over herself and her circumstances.
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh, You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe, what you say of me
Then, in the second and third verses, we hear a change in her focus. Lauren is no longer addressing the whispers she hears and instead begins to look at Jesus. She proclaims that her identity and worth are only found in Christ and she surrenders all of life’s “failures and victories” to God.
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God. You’ll have every victory
The strength in the lyrics is not only in their genuine tone, but in their brevity. The words are accessible, repeatable, and powerful. Lauren created a worship song that is complex emotionally, but simple rhythmically. Anyone can sing along to it with ease, even after only hearing it once or twice. That’s the mark of a good worship song.
Our words have power, especially when spoken over ourselves. The more we put ourselves down, even inside our head, we begin to believe it and our bodies and minds change for the worse. But, when we begin to build ourselves up and proclaim the promises of God over our lives, wonderful things can happen. When we truly believe that we are a precious child of the Living God, our circumstances begin to look different. Jesus said that “in this world we would have trouble,” so there’s no getting around that. What we can get around, or control, is how we react to our circumstances and what we believe they say about us. We can choose peace, joy, and triumph from a place lacking those things because God has already provided them through Christ.
This is exactly what this song is about. We all hear whispers in our head telling us we’re not good enough or that if we try, we will inevitably fail. We feel the lies in our hearts telling us that we will never measure up to the standard every one else seems to be meeting. When we listen to those voices, we go astray by looking for the value of our worth in what we can accomplish.
Whatever validation we do find in those things will fade quickly and we are left asking the same questions Lauren asks in “You Say.” The need for our lives to have meaning based on what we accomplish is not how God designed us. We first have meaning because we were created by God. Our identity is found in who Christ says we are, not how the world tries to define us.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 1 Peter 1: 3-4
We need to remind ourselves daily of what God’s Word says and believe what He says of us is true. We share in Christ’s divine nature just by having accepted Christ as our Savior and having the Holy Spirit dwell within us. We bring our hurts, our sins, our weaknesses, as well as all our victories, accomplishments, and triumphs and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
Every day when you wake up, take the first 5 minutes to thank God that He has given you another day. Proclaim “this is the day the LORD has made. I will rejoice and be glad!” as a reminder throughout the day that you can choose joy. When people use hurtful words toward you, you can choose to react with kindness and remember that God says you are loved and created for a purpose. You need to look up to heaven or bow your head in prayer, and tell God “When (I feel) I don’t belong, you say I am yours. And I believe.”