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Heartbeat
A Quick Music Discussion Guide for Parents
03/26/2012

Dynamic ImageThe Song: “Heartbeat” by The Fray

Main Point of Discussion: When things look hopeless, God always gives us a reason to hope.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)

  • Your kids probably know a little bit about The Fray, the Denver-based pop-rock quartet that’s been straddling the worlds of mainstream and Christian music for a few years. The band’s debut, How to Save a Life (2005), got plenty of attention due in no small part to its singles, “Over My Head (Cable Car)”—a monster hit in the mainstream charts—as well as the even-more-popular album title track, which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 after the TV show Grey’s Anatomy picked it up.

  • A second release (plus a Christmas EP) didn’t hit quite the heights as the band’s debut, but with the Fray’s latest effort, Scars and Stories, you might say the fellas have a “heartbeat” again. Not coincidentally, that’s also the name of the Fray’s single which has been hanging out for months in the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

  • Before you play the music video for “Heartbeat” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp0_2fjPlbM on YouTube for your family, keep in mind that the visuals (i.e., majestic waves crashing on a torch-lit beach while the Fray plays for a small crowd of hip twentysomethings) don’t capture what the song is really about.

  • Frontman Isaac Slade talked to Relevant Magazine http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/music/features/28203-the-deeper-side-of-the-fray recently about the new album—and the impetus behind “Heartbeat”: "All of our songs are grounded in personal experiences…'Heartbeat'…came from a trip I took to Kigali where I actually felt the pulse of this woman's hand. We were all standing around praying for the food before lunch. It was like I could feel Rwanda coming back to life—like she was the country herself. I went outside, and I remember I busted out my iPhone to record an idea for the song. I turned the corner and there were five or six little school kids singing, and shouting, and jumping up and down, and laughing, and pointing at me and yelling—like they knew I was singing about them or something. So if there is any hope in that song, it just kind of came from walking the streets of the capital that was littered with bodies 20 years ago. To where it is now, it's coming alive. I just tried to capture that feeling. I think if you put hope in songs on purpose it just feels like Botox. It has to be something you actually sense for real."

  • Also be ready to address the holocaust in Rwanda from 1994; here is a story that will help with that task: http://itslikethis.org/?p=2682.

  • And before you begin, remember: Don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

The Music Video:
The song’s video can be found at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp0_2fjPlbM



Song Lyrics:
    We're on an open-bed truck on the highway
    Rain is coming down, and we're on the run
    Think I can feel the breath in your body
    We gotta keep on running ‘til we see the sun

    Oh you gotta fire and it's burnin' in the rain
    Thought that it went out, but it's burnin' just the same
    And you don't look back, not for anything
    'Cause love someone, love them all the same
    If you love someone, love them all the same
    Oh I feel your heartbeat
    And oh, you're comin' around, comin' around, comin' around
    If you can love somebody, love them all the same
    You gotta love somebody, love them all the same
    I'm singing, oh, I'm feeling your heartbeat

    I'm tryin' to put it all back together
    I've got a story, and I'm tryin' to tell it right
    I've got the kerosene and the desire
    I'm trying to start a flame in the heart of the night

    I know the memories rushing into mind
    I want to kiss your scars tonight
    I'm laying here,
    'Cause you've gotta try, you've gotta let me in, let me in

    Oh I feel your heartbeat
    And oh, you're comin' around, comin' around, comin' around
    You love somebody, you gotta, you gotta love somebody
    You gotta, I'm singing, oh, I feel your heartbeat
    All your heartbeat, yeah, I said
    All your heartbeat, yeah
    All your heartbeat

Discussion Questions:

  1. After watching the “Heartbeat” music video and reading the lyrics, what do you sense The Fray is trying to say through this song? (Note: If your family members are getting stuck, that may not be surprising, as the lyrics are pretty vague. Some possible answers: Someone who’s in love and wanting it to be a mutual feeling; someone who’s concerned about a loved one and reaching out…but neither response really hits home. Make sure to read Slade’s explanation from the Relevant magazine article.)

  2. Given that explanation by the songwriter himself, how do you now interpret the song’s themes? (Note: The answer you may be looking for is- He’s singing about the process of rebirth; getting up after you’ve fallen down; finding hope in the midst of hopelessness.)

  3. One of the last lines in the song is “I want to kiss your scars tonight…” and then leading to a plea: “…you've gotta let me in, let me in.” Do you believe these lyrics could describe God reaching out to love us and comfort us in the midst of hopeless situations? Explain.

  4. Can you think of instances in the Bible in which the situation appeared hopeless…and then God intervened?


Where to Take It from Here:

Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)


Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our "Parenting Help" page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today's Teens.

Transitional Statement:
The song’s melody and (especially) the music video for “Heartbeat” are definitely cool and slick. But the real meaning behind the song is much deeper. Let’s talk about it, as well as what the Bible has to say about hope in the midst of hopelessness.


Read the following passage from the Bible:
    Romans 4:17-19 (NIV)
    17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
    18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

More Discussion Questions:

  1. ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: In this passage, Paul is referring to the miracle of Abraham becoming a father at 100 years of age—and when his wife, Sarah, was unable to bear children. In spite of the physical facts, who does verse 17 say Abraham believed in? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: God.)

  2. ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: What humanly impossible feat does verse 17 say that God does? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: God “gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”)

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Is this biblical declaration something that’s easy for you to believe…or difficult? Why/why not?

  4. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
      23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

  5. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When you notice that others are behaving “unswervingly,” what does that look like? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: They’re going straight ahead; not veering right or left or going around in circles…)

  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What is the writer of Hebrews telling us to do “unswervingly”? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: holding to the hope we profess…)

  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What reason do we have for maintaining such unswerving hope? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: because God, who promised to give us life where there was no life, is faithful!)

  8. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do verses 24 and 25 say goes hand in hand with having such hope? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: Spurring each other on toward love and good deeds; continue meeting together; encouraging each other…)

  9. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: If God is faithful and provides us hope and life anyway, why does the Bible emphasize that we need to love each other, too? I mean, since God is going to do what God is going to do, why does our mutual love/encouragement matter so much? (Parent—answers you’re looking for: First of all, because that’s simply how God set it up; secondly, God wants us to experience his love for us directly…as well as through loving each other with the love God first gave each of us!)

  10. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What can we each do in our individual lives (and as a family) to recognize and accept God’s constant reach to give us hope?

Wrap Up:
We’re living in perilous times. The world economy is still really bad. A lot of people are out of work. Nations all over the globe can’t pay their bills, either—and there are protests and even riots because of how uncertain things are.

Plus, young people everywhere are graduating from high school and college without decent job prospects—and those lucky enough to even finish college are usually saddled with student loans that are getting harder and harder to pay back.

And that’s just the beginning of our planet’s many troubles. You can all read the headlines. They indicate that there’s not much reason for having a hopeful attitude. I mean, where is God really in the midst of all these troubles? (And to be fair, a lot of us are just starting to feel the general hardships—many, many countries have been living with a sense of uncertainty, unrest, and hopelessness for decades…even centuries. Only now are we “catching up” here in the West.)

But as we’ve seen from God’s love letter to us, the Bible, Jesus is in the business of giving hope where no one on his or her own could possible experience it.

And that’s just it.

The phrases “on my own” and “on your own” have no place in God’s eternally hopeful community. Because as we’ve learned, it’s in the midst of community and being together—praying, loving, encouraging, crying, comforting—that Jesus most readily and powerfully comes alive; Christ’s hope is supposed to be a shared experience!

So before we close in prayer, I want you all to close your eyes and think about what a community like that would look like in your own lives. Even more…can our family become that kind of community? If we are that type of community, how can we be even more attuned to God’s mission of providing hope where hope by any human standard has no place existing?

Let’s pray that God will show us tangible, practical ways we can “become” hope for each other…and for our larger communities…and for the world.


Close in Prayer

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