Amber Sweeney

Amber Sweeney is an accomplished soul-rock singer and songwriter from the Pacific Northwest

Song Crush Sunday - "Nearness" by Jenn Johnson + Bethel Music

Happy Easter to you all!!! 

What a treat that Song Crush Sunday would fall on Easter. 

I don’t often discuss my personal faith in public, but I simply wouldn’t be true to who I am if I did not share this week’s #SCS selection with you. 

I have been a worship leader since I was about seven years old, and still am, which means I’m constantly on the hunt for new songs to introduce to the congregation I am a part of. Most of the time, these songs have a very deep and personal meaning for me, as is such with this week’s Song Crush Sunday. 

“Nearness” written and performed by Jenn Johnson, Brian Johnson, and the Bethel Music Team. 

I love this song for so many reasons. I love the way Jenn writes and sings. There is a simple, yet profound reliability and authenticity that exudes from her. She is one of those artists who I will listen to simply because I see her name. I know that there will be depth and quality attached. 

The message of the song strikes me most. It’s an honest take on a subject exhausted for generations. It reminds me of hymns like “It Is Well” or “Amazing Grace.” These songs came from devastating circumstances in peoples lives. They were not simply written because they needed another new song. They were written after walking through heart-wrenching experiences — souls broken, and tattered. These folks were fighting through the questions every single one of us have, particularly in the moments when we’re in such agony we can barely breathe. What came is an unfettered, immovable statement declaring that the goodness of the God they believe in is not dependent on whether or not the circumstances of their lives are easy, and pain free. I don’t know where the notion came from that we are meant to obtain perfection and ease in our lives, but I can relate to the heartbreak and anger when things go very, very wrong. 

The other thing I love about “Nearness” is the production quality. Talk about raising the bar. The orchestration of the strings, the clarity and space in each instrument, the way they took simple chording and added texture and depth…and IT’S ALL DONE LIVE. I mean, wow. This production quality is something I’d expect from a Peter Gabriel performance. I can only imagine the time, effort, and man-power this took to pull off — and I’m so glad they all pulled it off and shared it with us!  

This song (like many off of this album We Will Not Be Shaken) can seem so unassuming until you listen a few times. They’re not flashy at the start, but they’re deep and breathtaking. It reminds me of the drives I’ve taken through the desert and suddenly come upon the mountains, lush, green, alive…or even the moments when I’ve cleared the forest on the drive to the Northwestern Pacific Coast and suddenly see before me, an unending, vast ocean at sunset. It takes your breath away when you catch it. 

Happy Easter, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to read, and to listen with your heart. 

Until next time! 


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