Song Story: “Conquer All” By Caleb Dutton

You probably would agree that God definitely works in mysterious ways. This was so true for me one evening in September 2020 when my wife Jenna and I were invited to visit with her boss at his home. Jenna and he, Lance Davids, work at Illiana Christian High School in Dyer, Indiana, a school of about 450 students, where he is a teacher and Director of Advancement, Spiritual Development, and Vision. I had no idea what God was up to when he arranged this meeting for the three of us, but I decided to keep my mind open to God’s plan and live into my faith. 

As we entered his house, Jenna and I saw his famous green couch, a couch that we knew had seen many incredible ideas come to light over the years. We sat together, shared some small talk, and then began to dream with wide open brainstorming. Ideas kept flowing quickly, but one in particular stood tall above the rest: let’s write a song with the students of Lance’s Senior Bible 5 class. I kept thinking this was a little too far fetched… Lord, you want me and a group of twenty-five teenagers to write a song? You’ve got to be kidding, right? 

The Lord wasn’t kidding. Lance was committed, Jenna was encouraging, and the Holy Spirit was speaking so clearly to me as well. I was in.. Let our work begin for you, Lord! 

Typically, senior year of high school is one of the best years of a teenager’s life. But for these teens, their year had been completely changed because of the pandemic. They lost opportunities to visit colleges, play in sporting events, go to proms, and more. However, I would find that the perspective that the students had was amazingly insightful. 

The class and I met together for the first time a few days after the meeting on Lance’s green couch. I let them know I was looking forward to getting below the surface and diving into the emotions of how the pandemic had affected them– how it hurt them, helped them, and hopefully moved them closer to the Lord through it all. We got to work…well, mostly God got to work within them. 

The words they shared were incredibly sensitive…they wrote the song, not me. The honest and raw emotion of the song reflected exactly what these young men and women were feeling. We put hours into individual lines at times, as together we searched for just the right words to sing. But it was a labor of love for all of us, love for the Lord and love for each other. 

Our last writing session was in early December 2020, right before the semester ended with a new class coming in for the second semester. I played a demo for them, and watched as their faces lit up, eyes widened, and smiles stretched even wider. But I knew the song was missing one last thing: the authors of the words, the students themselves, needed to actually be in the track! 

When you listen to “Conquer All,” you’ll hear that the last chorus drops out every instrument… except for 25 young people stomping and clapping. That day, as the lyrics they wrote express, the students in Mr. Davids’ Bible class at Illiana Christian High School became warriors! 

All praise to the King of Kings! All glory to God.

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