I started "All is Vanity" way back in 2011, the first year I began intentionally writing songs from scripture. But, when I went into the studio to record the Blood + the Breath, the song didn’t exactly fit thematically. Years later, I began to see that the new album - what would eventually become a Home & a Hunger - would center on themes of ache and homesickness. So, I circled back to this song and added two things: a last line to the chorus that says “you feel eternity, and it’s beating in your chest. So you know in your soul it’s not all meaningless.” I also added the bridge speaking of restlessness and rest, hunger and fullness.
To me, the whole song (and really the whole book of Ecclesiastes) feels like one big ache. Will the things we are chasing truly satisfy? Where will our restless hearts ever find true rest? I love how one of the questions in the bridge - "If there is hunger, could there be fullness?" - is answered in the title of the next song on the album, "Fullness of Joy." We find fullness and true rest in His presence (Psalm 16:11).
In Ecclesiastes, we find King Solomon engaging in a great experiment: to try to find satisfaction in the things of the earth... in work, in wealth, in pleasure, in love, in wisdom. He throws himself wholeheartedly into this experiment, and yet finds that “under the sun” all is vanity. We too make idols of earthly things - love, platform, people, approval, money, power, even religion - and try to find fulfillment in them. But, “under the sun” and without Christ, we will find only emptiness. But with Christ, and with an eternal, “over-the-sun” perspective, everything changes! He is fullness of joy.
I can't talk about this song without mentioning what a dream it was to have singer-songwriter Jill Phillips come sing with me on it; I love her music and the heart behind it and have listened to her since college. She’s also a mom/songwriter that I look up to as I try to strike the "balance" there. What she added to the song made it really special.