On May 13, 2006, Lance Corporal Richard Zachary James, a graduate of the Seaford Christian Academy, was killed while serving bravely in Iraq. The Seaford Academy, together with the James family, commissioned this setting of “As the Deer” to honor Rick’s sacrifice for his country. The lyrics, “You alone are my strength, my shield…” are an uplifting reminder that God is the source of our strength in times of great loss.
The ethereal opening imports a sense of mystery surrounding our God- a God who embraces us with a love we cannot fully understand. The first verse begins with a simple, guitar-like style reminiscent of the guitar Rick’s brother played in honor of Rick at the Service. The continued sound of the bells suggests a rich and peaceful life experienced by those who rest in God’s hands. In contrast, the handchimes in verse 2 reflect our child-like trust in God. The last time the melody is played, the vibrato technique of the chimes convey how life is a blend of sweet joy and profound sorrow. The powerful climax reflects God’s strength and love for us. The flowing guitar-like style returns and the song ends with soft, ascending notes gently leading us to God’s wonderful embrace.