Inspiration for a song struck Harris Blackwood as he finished his Hall County Schools food delivery route on April 22.
He safely pulled over the bus and jotted lyrics into his phone.
“It’s like those words just came into my heart,” Blackwood said. “It’s one of those things you can’t explain to somebody.”
Once he arrived home, Blackwood, a Gainesville resident and regular Times columnist, retyped the song and reached out to his longtime friend Mark Green, the minister of music at First Baptist Church of Gainesville.
“He called and said, ‘I just wrote these words. I want to send them to you,’” Green recounted. “He emailed them to me, and in 40 minutes I had written all of the melody.”
'Heal Our Land'
By Harris Blackwood and Mark Green
Heal our land from sea to shining sea.
Heal our land wherever there is need.
Your people, Lord are suffering; they're hungry and afraid.
For them, this plea is made! Heal our land.
In Your word, there is a promise that if we would call on You,
You'll hear our prayer and answer and we know that You are true,
but storm-clouds have been gathering and the world is much in pain.
With humble hearts we ask You once again.
(Back to chorus)
Spoken: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 2:14
(Sing chorus again)
Both Blackwood and Green said they never intended to put together the song in such a short time. They said its composition “was a God thing.”
Blackwood describes their creation as both a song and prayer for the U.S. during the pandemic.
The lyrics call for healing in the country, “wherever there is need.”
When writing the line, “Your people, Lord are suffering; they’re hungry and afraid,” Blackwood said he visualized the smiling face of a girl who greets him on his bus route.
“She’s at my bus stop every morning with her mama,” he said. “She just smiles, and we give her the bag of food. She’s just so happy to have that. There are a lot of people in need in this community.”
The day after composing “Heal Our Land,” Blackwood and Green drove to First Baptist of Gainesville’s sanctuary and recorded the song. Green played the piano as the two sang a prayer over the country.
They uploaded the video to YouTube, and within a matter of days the calls came flooding in.
As of Wednesday, May 13, the link had received nearly 4,000 views.
Green said churches of all denominations have used the song during virtual worship. While most reside in the U.S., he said a church in Toronto incorporated the song into a service, and a missionary in South Africa played it for their mission group.
“We’ve been encouraging people to use it to sing in churches and pray words over their community,” Green said. “The more it can be sung and prayed, the better.”
Over the past two months, Blackwood said around six of his friends have either lost a parent or a loved one to COVID-19.
When people listen to or sing “Heal Our Land, he wants them to remember that “God is in control,” and that he hears their prayers.
“I hope that not in months, but weeks, there will come a time that this will be past us,” Blackwood said. “I think we’ll look back and say, ‘God healed our land.’”
Those who want to sing the song as a prayer over their community can contact Green at email@example.com, and he will send the sheet music.
To view a video of the song, visit youtube.com/watch?v=oQC1wZ0rD18.