Introducing Breath & Clay from The Prestonwood Choir

by Brian Taylor

From the beginning, you and I have been precious to God. Genesis 2:7 says, “… the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

He could have spoken us into existence. Instead, He formed us from the dust and breathed life into us. He fashioned us in His image. Even then He made His desire clear: We were created for intimacy with Him. When we found ourselves separated from Him by our sin and in need of redemption, He Himself bridged the divide.

“Who understood our fragile state?

Only Jesus.

Who came to us in breath and clay?

Only Jesus.

Who took no honor as a king?

Only Jesus.

Who walked His love out on the streets?

Only Jesus.”

—from “Breath & Clay (Only Jesus),” written by Michael Neale & Krissy Nordhoff

These lyrics from the title track of our new choral collection, Breath & Clay, give us a glimpse of this humble King and His extraordinary love for us. Jesus could have chosen to avoid the pain, humiliation and suffering of the Cross. He could have saved us from afar; He didn’t. He chose to live as we live and feel what we feel. Once again He came close. His victory became our victory! He made this new and living way for us to experience abundant life in Him—not just in the “sweet by and by,” but right in the midst of the “nasty here and now”!

I remember when I started writing “Overcome (It’s Already Done),” one of the new songs on the project. I was holed up in my office working on some new song ideas. After a few hours, I felt as if I were running into a wall. I was pretty frustrated.

Just a year prior, I had moved my wife and two kids from South Florida to North Dallas to join the team at Prestonwood Worship. We knew that God was in it, and we were certain He was sending us. Still, moving away from family (for the second time) and what was familiar had been tough. On top of that, we had walked through some significant challenges as a family over that year. It seemed everything that we felt and had experienced decided to pile right on top of my heart that day. There I was trying to write, but nothing was coming out.

I decided to stop what I was doing and spend some time in prayer and worship. For the next 20 or 30 minutes, I poured out my heart to Him, sitting at my piano. Then, I sang these words:

“I’m going to shout like the battle is over!

I’m going to sing like the storm has passed!”

And I broke. I put my head down on the keys and I wept. At that moment, it was as if God wrapped His arms around me and pulled me close. I was flooded with memories of His kindness and faithfulness to our family. He reminded me that every word He had spoken, every promise He had made, every step we would take—it was already done!

Whatever mountains or storms stood in front of us, He had already gone before us and won! We were right where He needed us to be. I didn’t need to hold on to the reins or try to figure everything out. I didn’t need to fight. I could rest in Him and His promise of victory. My job was simply to worship and to follow.

This is our response to a glorious Savior, His marvelous grace, and His unfailing Word: joyful surrender and extravagant worship. It put a fresh fire in me. I captured the idea and sent it over to Michael [Neale, Prestonwood Lead Worship Pastor]. We finished the song over the next couple of weeks.

That is what Breath & Clay is about. These songs were born out of encounters with the living God, the awe and wonder of being in His presence, and the truth of His Word. When we set out to create this project, our goal was clear. We wanted to produce a beautifully diverse, contemporary collection of songs that would capture the heart of what God has done and is doing in our midst. We are a multigenerational, multicultural church and we’ve brought every part of who we are to this project. Moving orchestrations, fresh arrangements, and a rockin’ rhythm section really bring these songs to life.

These songs are anthems of testimony and triumph. They are declarations of praise and worship. They are prayers of healing and hope. They are the offerings of grateful people. We are overjoyed to share them with you and your choirs. We pray that they become for you what they have been to us: monuments to the faithfulness and greatness of our King, weapons of praise on the lips of your people, a lighthouse of truth amidst the ever-present storms of life.

Brian Taylor serves as Associate Pastor of Worship at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.