Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.
Inspiration for songs can come from unlikely places—but the inspiration for Legacy Five’s first mega-hit, “I Stand Redeemed,” would have to be one of the most unusual places ever.
One day, Belinda Smith dropped by Kelly Garner’s house. Christina DeGazio, a Canadian songwriter, was also there; she had come down to Nashville to write with Kelly. All three wrote for Niles Borop’s Centergy Music at the time.
When Belinda arrived, Kelly and Christina were talking about a song they had recently written and submitted to Niles. They said, “Our publisher totally hated this line in our song.”
“Which line?” she asked.
They replied, “I stand redeemed.”
Now Belinda makes it clear that she absolutely loves Niles Borop. But, she says, “You have to know, I’ll just do something to aggravate you, if it will be funny, and I think you’ll get the joke.”
So, she said, “We should write an entire song called ‘I Stand Redeemed,’ just because there’s no way he could throw out the line. If that’s the title, he can’t make us change it.”
“They were like, ‘Oh, let’s do it! It will aggravate him!’”
“It wasn’t to make him mad,” she clarifies, “just to goad him, because we really loved that man! It was just be like mm-hmm, and what about that line? Because who knew that we would sit down and the I Stand Redeemed would come out?”
Belinda got down at Kelly’s baby grand piano. “I just started playing,” she recalls, “and the whole first verse came out.”
When I think of all my faults and my failures
When I consider all the times I’ve let God down
I am humbled by the grace He has extended
I’m amazed at the mercy I have found
I could never earn this love on my own
But every time I come before His throne
I stand redeemed…
“It was so weird,” she says. “We were all like, ‘Oh dear. What do you do?’ We were just trying to aggravate Niles, and now it was really serious!”
They worked together on the chorus. They had a big discussion over whether to use the word “liberty.” Kelly and Belinda were against the idea, thinking it was a “fourth of July word,” but Christina—the Canadian of the writing trio—held out until they left the word in. “So that’s the international influence on the chorus!”
By this point, it was 9:30 in the evening. Belinda, who lived forty-five minutes away in Franklin, had gotten up at 5:00 that morning for her day job, and had to get up at 5:00 the next morning. So she called it a night and headed for home; Christina and Kelly finished the second verse.
One day, after a demo had been made for the song, Kelly saw Roger Bennett’s wife Debbie in Staples. “I don’t know why she had the cassette,” Belinda recalls, “but she gave it to Debbie. Debbie took it home, and it became the first Legacy Five single. Only in Nashville!”