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Exploring the Timeless Power of "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong UNITED in Fingerstyle Guitar


When you think about the ocean, what image comes to your mind? Do you connect the image of the ocean to the idea of a summer vacation? Yes, that is the most common way to think about the ocean. However, there might be someone who imagines a spiritual connection to the ocean. Interestingly, there is one such song that talks about the ocean in a way that has been drawn inspiration from the biblical account of Jesus walking on water, as recorded in Matthew 14:22-31. One such song that encapsulates this imagination is "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong UNITED. The song poetically mirrors the experience of Peter as he steps out in faith onto the water, only to falter momentarily due to fear and doubt. Through vivid imagery and metaphorical language, the song invites listeners to embark on their journey of faith, trusting in God's guidance and provision amidst life's uncertainties.

Another thing that might interest many of you is its ability to transcend time and space to become anthems. Released on their 2013 album "Zion," this song has not only dominated Christian radio stations but has also entrenched itself in congregational worship settings worldwide. Its lyrical depth, musical harmony, and profound message have made it a staple in the Christian music repertoire, continuing to resonate with listeners even years after its initial release. The reason for this is probably because of its adherence to Scripture. Each lyric is carefully crafted to reflect biblical truths, with direct references to passages such as Matthew 14 and Psalms scattered throughout the verses and choruses. This adherence to the biblical narrative ensures that the song not only communicates its message effectively but also aligns with the core tenets of Christian doctrine.

Even though it may sound difficult to the non-religious community, this song resonates with people regardless of religious belief. This is also another strength of the song, where it captures many fabulous musical characteristics by implementing different strategies. This is a perfect example of a song metaphorically talking about religion but also playing a role as music from a pure interpretation.

It is true that this song might be the one that you want to play with regardless of time and space. The perfect instrument in this case when you want to play and share with your community is the guitar, as you expected. Unlike other heavy instruments like the piano and cello, the guitar is relatively easy to carry everywhere you go. Furthermore, it is a perfect instrument to convey the mood of the song easily as it goes along well with any type of music. In this case, “Ocean” is perfectly fitting into the characteristics of the guitar when it comes to play its melodies, rhythm, and harmony. But wait, what do you mean by playing the guitar and conveying all of these different traits of music at once? Isn’t the guitar just playing for melody or harmony (chords)? Interestingly, I would like to propose the genre of the guitar that would allow you to play all of these traits at once. Finger-style guitar, which is a technique that combines melodies and harmony in one guitar, will lead you to experience this amazing song in your hand. Of course, it is more difficult to play those traits at once, it sounds scary. But it is important to note that many arrangers have made it easier to follow to the song, while keeping the original mood of the song. With that in mind, please take a moment to listen to this amazing musician’s arrangement of the song by using the finger-style technique.

The finger-style guitarist in the spotlight, Titus Major's Oceans

Wow, isn’t this mesmerizing? I found this video particularly interesting and fascinating as it conveys the beauty of the ocean. I am not only talking about the scenic setting of the video. I am also mesmerized by how the arrangement powerfully conveys the nature of the ocean. For example, from the very beginning, the main melody is sung in the lower pitch while the accompaniment section is on higher ranger. This is very unique, as most arrangers set up different ranges for both melodies and accompaniment. Mostly, main melodies are in the upper pitches while accompaniments are in lower ones. This is because the nature of the range is different, and mostly people could hear the upper voices well than the lower one. However, this arranger managed to set it differently while keeping the main melodies alive. This is the power of the arranger when they understand the musical traits of the guitar to the deepest level. By setting up the main melodies in the deeper range throughout the piece, this music became a representation of the ocean, making people imagine the sunset of the ocean. Just playing the music will allow you to immerse in the beautiful nature of the ocean.

Another advantage of the piece is found in its conversational melodies arrangement. Throughout the piece, you will notice that the main melodies are sometimes found in higher pitches that are almost likely letting you imagine if there are two actors in dialogue. This highlights the spirituality of the song, which fully captures the originality of the music.

In summary, the finger-style guitar rendition of "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong UNITED offers a profound experience. Through its evocative melodies and harmonies, it captures the essence of the ocean's vastness and spirituality. As listeners immerse themselves in the music, they are drawn into a journey of faith and contemplation. This rendition serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of music in conveying profound truths and stirring emotions, leaving a lasting impression on those who encounter it. This is the perfect place for you to start enjoying this music by yourself. Here is the sheet music that allows you to join in this wonderful experience that cannot be easily found elsewhere. Start listening and playing alongside with it! You will find yourself being obsessed with the mesmerizing world of guitar and the original song.

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1 Comment

Eljane Balarote
Eljane Balarote
Apr 08

So inspiring ❣️


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