Today Caroline Cobb, singer, songwriter, and worship leader, joins us for an interview. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Get a free sample of her album the Blood + the Breath on Noisetrade, and download “Do Not Lose Heart,” a song for the suffering written from Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 4, as a part of The Gospel Coalition’s recent compilation.
Lianna: Would you tell us a bit about your history as a singer-songwriter and worship leader?
Caroline: My songwriting story and my faith journey really began at the same time, about fifteen years ago. My mom had taught me a few chords on the guitar and I started to write tons of songs…none were really very good, but that was okay, right? At the same time, through some women who patiently loved and discipled me in high school and college, God began growing in me a love for His Word. However, it wasn’t really until 2011, the year I was turning thirty, that He combined those two passions—songwriting and His Word—into one.
That year, I gave myself a bit of a crazy goal: to write a song for every book of the Bible before I turned thirty. Although it was hard work, I absolutely loved that year…delving into a passage of Scripture, putting myself in the characters’ shoes, trying to understand the truths in that passage and how it all connected to the larger narrative of Scripture, then attempting to communicate that truth with lyric and melody and chords. It was so meaningful and so challenging to me, both as a believer and as a songwriter. Many of the songs from that year of writing became an album called the Blood + the Breath (2013), which traces the story of redemption in Scripture—song by song—from creation to Christ’s return.
So, in this season of life, my purpose as a songwriter is pretty simple: through music, I want to tell God’s stories from Scripture, creatively and faithfully. My hope is that the songs I write and sing would point people to the Story that anchors mine, infusing it with hope, purpose, joy and meaning. When I lead worship, I have a similar hope: I want to lead people in songs that are faithful to Scripture and rich with truth, pointing us to the gospel even as they engage us emotionally. I believe God’s Story contains very good news (and it’s become increasingly good news to me the more I walk with Him), and I am so thankful that I can use music to tell it. I love doing it!
L: You are currently on Kickstarter for a new album, a Home + a Hunger; what is your heart behind this album?
C: Yes! Thank you for asking. My big hope for this new album is that, alongside the Blood + the Breath, it would help people rehearse God’s Story in their everyday: while driving carpool, or changing a diaper, or working at their desk. I also want these songs to be a tool for people to share God’s stories with their friends, their kids, and the people they interact with every day.
While the last album focused on the cross and what we are saved from, a Home + a Hunger focuses on the “upside-down” kingdom we are saved to and the way the Story ends. Specifically, I am praying the songs will give eternal perspective and hope to those weighed down by suffering, and freedom in the gospel to those weighed down by guilt and sin. These last few years, as we’ve walked beside people who were suffering, and as my context of being a mom of young kids really exposed my sin, I was drawn to write from passages that hit on the themes of hope and the “upside-down” kingdom. Even though these songs are coming straight from Scripture, they are very personal for me.
L: As you have been working toward a Home + a Hunger, what verse or verses of Scripture have meant the most to you personally, and why?
C: For a long time, my go-to verse as a singer-songwriter and worship leader has been 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Because I know my inadequacies, I take a lot of comfort in being a jar of clay! When I step out in faith, I trust that God can use me to display His glory, not just in spite of my inadequacies but through my inadequacies and brokenness. Isn’t that great news?
For the album, I have been dwelling a lot on passages that point to the end of the Story: Revelation 21-22, Isaiah 25:5-12, Romans 8:18-25, and more. These passages are just beautiful, full of rich imagery that makes me so excited for heaven. I want to live in light of eternity, not just what I see right in front of me, and these passages help me do that.
L: I so appreciate that you see our lives as a part of God's bigger story, as told in Scripture. When and how did you first come to see your life in these terms?
C: I don’t know if I can remember a specific time. But I do know that it’s so freeing and exciting to live my life in light of the bigger Story, a Story that’s not ultimately about me but about God and His glory.
Genesis 1-3, the beginning of the Story, reveals our dignity and purpose as image-bearers of God, while also revealing our brokenness, our pride, our sin and our need for a Savior. And right there in Genesis 3:15, God begins his Story of redemption by promising that One will come and crush the serpent’s head! We see Jesus all through the Old Testament… He is the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, the ultimate Passover Lamb, Isaiah’s suffering servant who brings healing by His wounds. And the great climax of the Story, the cross and resurrection, reveals the character of God: His justice, His mercy, His humility, His love. God, being rich in mercy, while I was still dead in my sin, saved me and made me alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6)! And now, we are living between that great climax and the end of the Story, when Jesus returns. And that changes how we live.
So, we live seeking His kingdom first, and not to build our own little kingdoms. We live on His mission for His glory, not for our name or our vision of the good life. Living in light of His Story changes how we view success, how we treat people, how we raise our kids, what dreams we chase, and why we go to work every day. Even more, we live with our hope set in His promised returning, when He will set every injustice right again and wipe away every tear. And living in light of the end of the Story—living in light of this unshakable hope—recalibrates how we view our changing circumstances, suffering, the brokenness in the world around us, and even death. If this Story is true, it changes everything! It’s all or nothing. Let’s live like it’s really true!
L: Would you close our interview in prayer?
C: Eternal God, You have been writing Your Story from the very beginning of time, and who are we that You write our stories into Yours? We praise You for Your promises in Scripture and for the hope we have in heaven. God, we praise You because we know You promised to build Your kingdom and Your Church, even without us. But we ask that we could join You in this Story You’re writing, and this kingdom You’re building. Help us to walk in the good works that You created beforehand for us to walk in. By Your Spirit, help us to live on Your mission, seeking first Your kingdom, resting in the work of Christ on the cross. Turn our eyes away from worthless things, and help us to live in a way that is worthy of Your calling, with our eyes fixed on You. Amen.
Find her album the Blood + the Breath on iTunes. Visit her Kickstarter to learn how to help her make a Home + a Hunger, an album of songs from Scripture around the biblical theme of kingdom hope. The campaign ends March 20.