Death Has Been Conquered 

Words & Music by John Mandeville & Steve Siler
From Drink Deep: A Musical Journey through Grief


In 1997 my wife’s father passed rather unexpectedly. Later, on a plane flight, she looked out the window and imagined her dad free and jumping from cloud to cloud.

After she told me that the idea came to me that he was dancing with angels. It was hard to watch my wife grieving the loss of her father. I wished there was something I could do and that was the genesis of a music project that would eventually come to be called Dancing with Angels released on Autumn Records in 1998.

On the cover of the CD there was a black strip going down the left side. In a fine white italic running font running vertically from the bottom to the top were the words Music for the Soul. It was the first time I ever used that phrase.

I wrote the majority of the songs with John Mandeville. Greg Long helped us out on one and Scott Krippayne and I wrote another. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table in John’s apartment in Franklin, Tennessee, guitars in hand, when the song Death Has Been Conquered was born.

In just a few moments a moving refrain emerged. It was incredibly simple and very short. And yet there was sense that there was just nothing else to say.

Death has been conquered
The victory won
Christ lives forever
with God’s daughters and sons
Faith is the entrance
The cross is the key
Death has been conquered for you and for me

Matt McPherson sang the song for us and it seemed a very fitting recording to close the Dancing with Angels album.

Fade out.

Fade in. It’s 2012 and Music for the Soul is putting together an album that will ultimately be called Drink Deep: A Musical Journey through Grief. The plan is for Tony Wood, Scott Krippayne, and myself to go on a retreat to write the project.

Tony and I are having a meeting about the song content. I say to him, “Well, there is one song that we don’t need to write. Joel Lindsey played it at a Write about Jesus conference a few years back. It’s called As Good as Goodbye Gets. Tony replies, “I co-wrote that with Joel.”

Then Tony says, “Well, I have another moment on the record that we don’t need to write. The closing song should be “Death Has Been Conquered.”

This week I was asked if I had anything I could sing at church on Easter Sunday. I went through my catalog coming upon song after song that had too broad of a vocal range for me to be able to sing. Then I stumbled across this easy to sing prayer of gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross. It succinctly captures Jesus’ triumph over death through his resurrection

The amazing thing is since John Mandeville and I wrote the song for a grief project – and since it was recorded for Drink Deep, another grief project, it never occurred to me until this week that it is an Easter song.

Actually, being that Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith this song and sentiment is not confined to any one holiday. May you rest in the assurance of a love that spans eternity.

Click here to listen to Death Has Been Conquered.

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