The lyrics of "Only by Grace" expand upon the sentiments of "Amazing Grace."
I have chosen to run this race, determined to reach the end,I have forgotten it’s only by grace that I can see Your face.
At the tail end of October, 2020, Fr. Rob Galea revisited “Only by Grace,” a song he wrote back in 2006 for his album Closer.This new arrangement is much more complete than the studio version, which featured a solo female voice with a simple piano accompaniment. He’s now brought in a full band of guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and even a backup singer to make the choruses pop.
In the beginning of the tune, the lyrics are drawn from “Amazing Grace,” but as they advance through the verse they expand upon the sentiments of the 18th-century hymn to examine the importance of recognizing grace within our lives. After stating the virtues of grace, Fr. Rob makes note of the difficulties that arise when we disregard such heavenly help:
Oh I’ve tried to walk alone, it was to no avail, but when all been said and done,I know that I’m too frail.Only by grace the eagles fly, by that same grace, you’ll lift me high,I lift up my hands to You, It’s You alone, who can show me the way.
When we first saw such a large group around Fr. Rob, we were worried that the band might make the hymn too heavy, but these musicians adeptly keep the tone soft and genuine. The guitar plays the brief solo sections with the utmost care, which helps to keep the atmosphere comfortable and contemplative, and the drums maintained a restrained timbre thanks to the use of brushes instead of sticks.
This recording is punctuated by a prayer from Fr. Rob, which is followed by the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer. We especially loved how the band continued to play softly behind the musical priest as he switched gears from music to prayer. This accompaniment made the prayer into another part of the song and added just the right amount of pastoral flair. In the prayer, Fr. Rob said:
“Holy Spirit, we want to pray for your blessing. Your blessing over our lives, the lives of our families. We want to thank You for the blessings that we’ve received so far, the blessings of Your love, of family and friends, but we ask that You continue to bless us, that You continue to protect us, that You continue to give us Your spirit, so that we can live like Your son, Jesus.”