In Conversation with KRISSY NORDHOFF
CCLI: Welcome everyone, I’m Paul Herman with CCLI, here now with Krissy Nordhoff. Krissy, great to have you with us.
Krissy Nordhoff: Thank you, thanks so much for having me.
CCLI: Let’s start, if we could, with hearing the song story behind “Your Great Name.”
Krissy Nordhoff: Yes, so “Your Great Name” is one of those songs where I’ve been asked that question before, but it feels like it took a lot of life experience to write that song, so it feels like it was written over a long period. But I actually went through a sickness called Lyme Disease, which is caused from a tick bite. I was really sick for about 2 years, in bed a lot, and I had two little ones at the time, and I believe that the Lord said He was going to heal me. There was a verse I found that said “…this sickness is not fatal, it is an occasion to show glory by glorifying God’s Son.” So I sort of took that as my promise. I didn’t see that happen for another 2 years. I went through all the antibiotics and did that whole route, ended up at a healing service, and the Lord touched me physically. Within 2 months, the doctor cleared me and did new bloodwork—it was gone. So it was pretty life-changing, for my faith, for my writing, for every aspect of my life.
So basically, when I sat down at the piano and started singing those lines, “Lost are saved, found their way, at the sound of Your Great Name,” I just felt so compelled to speak truth about who the Bible says Jesus is. Because sometimes people get healed, sometimes people don’t get healed the way we want them to, but regardless it doesn’t change the truth about Who He is. And so, that was sort of me processing, but I was also reading the Psalms a lot, which is one of my favorite things to do. So where it repeats that line, “but His love never fails…” that’s what was in my heart as the song began to come out. Michael Neale stepped in and was able to help me finish that in a better way.
That’s what I thought the story was. I thought it was my declaration of this is Who Jesus is after being healed. But honestly, 9 years later, I went on a trip to Scotland and realized through the course of the trip that my 11th grandfather back, his name was James Guthrie, was martyred on the street in Edinborough, Scotland. I didn’t know at first if he was my grandfather or not, but we went to the mass grave where there were 100 covenanters buried who were basically the ones rebelling against the King’s religious oppression at the time. On the gravestone, it had the names of Jesus in bold, sort of as their declaration. One of my friends said to me, ‘Krissy, do you realize that all of those names in bold that are written on that gravestone from the 1400’s? They’re in your song, “Your Great Name.” In that moment I realized that truth has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s in my blood. So that’s the other reason I believe that song came out.
CCLI: And clearly, it’s resonating with the churches.
Krissy Nordhoff: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. It felt very redemptive. Of all the songs that the Lord would say, ‘This one I want to put My Spirit on’ because of the cost of what that one was.
CCLI: There’s another one I’d love to hear you talk about, and that’s “Mercy Tree.” That was also written with Michael Neale?
Krissy Nordhoff: Yeah, it was, Yes. He’s one of my favorite co-writers. So I had a dream one night about the Mercy Tree, and in my dream it was literally a tree, expansive, like what you would picture as the Tree of Life. YOu know, if you’ve ever been to Disneyland, like, THAT big! And underneath it, it just felt so comfortable, it had everything I needed, there was peace, there was rest, there was all these things. That was literally a dream, and I woke up and started writing out some verse ideas. Usually that’s where I start, with Michael Neale specifically, I’ll start with some verses. I sent it to him, and it was sort of a rough draft. He came in with a different perspective and said, “Krissy, I think the Mercy Tree is the Cross.” What if it’s the Cross? What if it’s not really a tree?” And I said, I think that’s right. So we went back-and-forth for several months, that’s how we work. And yeah, that’s the story of “Mercy Tree.”
CCLI: Another one I’d love to hear about as well, and that’s “Fighting For Us.” Another Michael co-writer, this time Michael Farren…
Krissy Nordhoff: Yes, we’ve laughed about that before, my favorite songs are with Michaels! They were actually both my music pastors, so that’s how those relationships worked. And I think, the more I write, the more I realize that when you’re writing in community like that, there’s a different level of you being able to be yourself in the room.
I had gone through a couple rough years in my marriage, and I knew Michael had also been going through some rough things. We actually had another co-write that day, so there was a third person in the room. We wrote with that person, then that person left the room, and we were supposed to be demo-ing the song for the next little bit, it shouldn’t have taken us that long. So 30 minutes later that other writer comes back in and he says, “Did you finish our demo?” We’re like, “Nope, but we finished another song!” So literally in 30 minutes—and that was another one of those times. A lot of times I’ll explain it to the girls I mentor as, some songs are like buried treasure, you dig and dig and dig until you find it. Other songs are like gems, they drop from the Holy Spirit, and you’re just a scribe writing it down. If you do the work of the digging, your hands will be ready to catch those gems, and that was just one of those moments. Michael had had that idea of “Fighting For Us” and yeah, it just fell out. And we just caught it. Because of all the struggles we’ve been through, you know?
CCLI: Any other songs you’d like to share about today?
Krissy Nordhoff: Well, I think “Back To Life” has a significant part of my heart. So my daughter went through a rough experience with anxiety, like really, really extreme. We had to pull her out of school, and I had to home school her. I had to teach her how to read, so that was fun, being a left-brained creative. There was a day she would just not get on the bus when we sent her back to school, this was the next year, and I tried the armor of God, we used to sing “Overcomer” by Mandisa, we would sing that with her all the time. But she wouldn’t get on the bus. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Tell her to breathe out her fear and breathe in peace. So we started there. And what happened at the bus stop just became this beautiful exchange of all these horrible feelings and then the peace of the Lord and the love of the Lord and trusting in the Lord. We had this exchange and she was OK, she got on the bus that day.
So that song was written with Michael Farren and James Galbraithe. I felt like the Lord was saying to me “OK, it’s your turn. I want you to do the same thing.” And I was like, wait a minute, this is for my daughter. But we did, so we wrote that, and then, crazy enough, Mandisa recorded that song, which my daughter was so excited about. The day I told her, “Mandisa is going to sing your song,” I had Popsicles and balloons at the bus stop when she got off the bus!
CCLI: You mentioned mentoring. Tell me more about that. Is that part of what you’re doing now?
Krissy Nordhoff: Yes, so I moved to Nashville about 22 years ago, and right when I moved here, I began praying for a mentor, a mother in the faith, somebody who had walked this road and juggled family and industry and worship and all of that. I couldn’t find anyone, and I prayed that prayer for 15 years. In year 15, I said, “Lord, c’mon, I’ve been praying this for 15 years and it’s a good prayer.” He said to me, “Be what you need.” And so I began inviting girls into my home. We did that monthly and then we did it quarterly, and then fast forward, we did that for 5 years. My sister moved to town, who has been leading worship for 15 years as a female, and we began to talk and say, “Hey, I see a gap here, where we could be helping girls.” Where maybe it’s uncomfortable for a male worship leader to be mentoring these younger girls, and how many of them are out there?
So we began to talk about the possibility of teaming up. Me more on the writing side, her more on the worship side. And we launched a new ministry together called Brave Worship. We do a podcast, which is crazy and fun and informative. We also do quarterly gatherings live here in Nashville, we do conferences, we did a trip to Scotland last year, a writing trip. Basically, we want to open up opportunities for women. We’re just starting to send out songs. We sent out our first one, but we know there’s more to come. We really feel a momentum building. We’re all excited, and I’m getting ready to release a songwriter mentorship program.
CCLI: So how can people get in touch with you if they’re interested in that?
Krissy Nordhoff: You can find us on BraveWorship.com. We also have a Facebook group, where our community is, called BraveWorship Community Facebook page. We’re on Instagram, Brave Worship, and then of course you can find me in all those same places, and at KrissyNordhoff.com.
CCLI: Any final thoughts at all for our worship leaders or songwriters out there that may be viewing?
Krissy Nordhoff: I would say, if you want to try out the Songwriter Personality Test, it’s really fun to do, if you’re a writer specifically. And you can find that also on BraveWorship.com. But I would just encourage you with one final thought, which is: Competition kills community. So don’t be afraid to work together. We all have the option to continue building by ourselves or work together and do more work in a shorter amount of time for the Kingdom of God. So work together with those around you.
CCLI: Krissy, this has been great. Thanks for coming and sharing with us.
Krissy Nordhoff: Thank you so much, Paul. Appreciate you.
CCLI: And thank you for watching. Take care.