‘Oceans’ – Hillsong
The intro of spectral sounds and strings creates a certain atmosphere. The floaty instrumentation sounds like a sea breeze and sets the tone for the first verse which is very stripped back and only has a simple chord pattern throughout. This leaves space for the imagination. Although the lyrics do introduce the theme of the song of trusting God and the idea of the ocean, they also still leave a lot to be uncovered. ‘The great unknown’ and ‘The mystery’ – it leaves us pondering – an ocean is calm yet powerful, peaceful yet treacherous.
The first chorus introduces the main idea of the song. It expands on the picture of the ocean, ‘when ocean’s rise’ creates more of a vivid image, when the ocean is becoming more powerful. This teamed with the small layers of instrumentation added and particularly at the end of the first chorus adds more of a sense of progression to the song. And to the ocean rising. ‘My soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours and You are mine’ are very intimate lyrics. As it’s a song meant for people to sing along, the intimacy suggested prompts there’s something more to come. Almost like it’s saying ‘prepare yourself’.
In the second verse the tempo begins to build and theres more layers added. A subtle drum beat adds a bit of excitement to it. The word ‘sovereign’ is used which contrasts with the idea of intimacy in the chorus. But then ‘you’ve never failed and you won’t start now’ strengthens the idea of trust and intimacy.
Then the instrumental before the bridge really builds up. It’s louder, there’s a lot more going on, the drums become more powerful and Taya’s voice steps up a notch. You can imagine the ocean becoming more and more powerful and rising up as the instruments do the same.
When it comes to the beginning of the bridge it suddenly becomes a lot more stripped back again. Like the ocean can often be crazy and then quite calm. I think this space in the song is there to remind you of the intimacy again but prepare you for the journey you’re about to go on. Like at the moment you’re paddling in the water with your feet on the sand, and then as the bridge builds, you’ll be in the deepest part of the ocean with the ferocious waves. The bridge is repeated five or six times which shows it’s importance. Rather than supposed ‘passive’ declarations of the lyrics in the verses, the lyrics in the bridge are actually asking for something to change. Each time the bridge is repeated Taya has more to offer with her voice, until at the end of the bridge you hear the truly mighty, fierceness of her voice. This is the mountain top of the song.
The outro is then there as the end of the journey. The sounds remind me of the deep sea, underneath the water. Rather than the sea breeze that we hear at the beginning like you’re stood on the shore, it’s like you’ve reached the point the song wants you to get to. The deep parts of the ocean. Not just the lines of the shore.