New Song: The Well

Song Inspiration
For the past year I've been teaching a study on Identity in Christ for our mom's ministry group at our local church. It's a study that evolved over time through my own personal study, and then morphed into a formal arrangement of lessons as the committee asked me last year to formulate curriculum suited for our group this year.  

There are a thousand subtle and not-so-subtle ways we find our identity in things that will not fully, or eternally satisfy.  Over the course of the year we kept revisiting this idea found in Jeremiah, of how we wrongly seek out satisfaction through other things when Christ Himself is the only One who can fill the empty spaces inside us.  

Jeremiah 2:13
"For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water."

I've been on a personal journey with this over the last couple years myself; learning to run to Christ for every need, every joy, and in every longing, and every heartache. Even legitimately good needs, are still only able to be fully met in Jesus.  

As a group we spent a good portion of time talking about John 4 as well, where Jesus has an encounter with the woman at the well.  He radically engages this controversial woman in conversation and asks for a drink from the well.  She's shocked that he asks her, but at the same time is pulled in by this kind stranger.  He speaks words of life and offers her Living Water that will make her never thirst again.  In the end, she knows she's seen the Messiah and goes on to tell others about Him.  He tells his confused disciples He has no need of their food, for he says, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work" (4:34). 

So my own personal journey has had me delving into these things over the past year or so and it's been good. It's been hard, and sometimes overwhelming and often painful. But like a necessary surgery brings fuller health eventually, a willingness to see what my heart is really like, has led me to believe who God says He is in His Word even more, and who He has made me to be, for His glory. It has sensitized me to the ways I misplace my joy and satisfaction, and the pain in doing that, has confirmed my only lasting joy is in Christ.

These words and themes have been rolling around in my head as lyrics for months and months; in fact I know that this song is similar in content to the Olney Hymn I just retuned.  Perhaps it's simply that this has been a personal theme of learning for quite some time, so it's inevitable that it would come out in a few different ways in my writing.

No more broken cisterns. No more lesser loves.  Come to the Living Water.  He is the Well that never runs dry and never gives up.  Those words sound so dramatic.  Maybe they are. Maybe it's because His love is. I just know this is a song that I need to sing over and over and over. 

Technical Song-writing Bits
I wrote this song with a congregational mind-set, trying to keep it singable, accessible in lyrics and collective in nature (not too "inward" or all about "me-and-my-pal-Jesus").

I absolutely love the imagery involved in the themes of fountains, living water, broken cisterns, high places and just the raw nature of these two opposing pictures.  

I knew I wanted the chorus to bring out the theme of Christ being the Well.  I tried to keep the melody and lyrics simple, but poignant. 

The verses are similar in nature as far as big-picture meaning, however the second has more of an action involved - kind of a "so what?" to the first verse.  So you say "no more lesser loves" - what are you going to do about that? Cue second verse...."tearing down high places". In writing that verse it was extremely convicting. Many Old Testament kings would begin their reign, desiring to do things the right way and follow Yahweh, but they didn't take the time to remove the altars (or 'high places') of the false gods. So eventually, the people were drawn back into idol worship.  But there were many kings who were serious about turning the heart of the people back to God, and so they went and actually tore down the high places being worshiped falsely to protect the people from falling prey to them again. 

I know that there are areas of my own heart where I sincerely say "no more broken cisterns, no more lesser loves", and yet I hesitate to tear down the altar.  Part of obedience, I'm learning, is not just turning from lesser loves, but also removing anything that might make it easy to run back to them.  That's radical. That's dramatic. Often painful. But Christ's radical love for me, compels a radical worship.  I'm not always sure what this looks like, to tear down the altars. But I am praying for a posture of the heart that leans into the Well more and more and so deeply, that lesser loves and broken cisterns will no longer have a magnetic pull. In the end, it's not even my work of tearing down altars that brings freedom. It's positioning myself to be fed from the Living Water be able to say for myself that "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." I will keep coming to Him again and again and again, because He is the well.

The Well
Words + Music by Tawnya Smith

No more broken cisterns
No more lesser loves
No more broken cisterns
That only will dry up
No more chasing hurt
In the folly of this earth
All is lost to moth and rust
In vanity and dust

But you are the well, forever deep
You give life, abundantly
You are the fountain, that won't give up
You never fail, You are enough
To you we come again
Cause you are, you the well

We're tearing down high places,
Letting all fall down
Tearing down the altars
on which we fixed our crowns
Lord you want our hearts
So we're falling at your feet
Remind us who You are
Help our unbelief


Hallelujah, life is in you
Hallelujah, life is in you (repeat)



  1. Awesome! Keep up the good work.

  2. Finally had a chance to beautiful, Tawnya!!

  3. Thanks so much Sarah...for taking the time to read, listen and respond.


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