I am not a fan of modern Christian music. I think that most of it is anthropocentric, trite, cacophonous noise, lacking a sense of reverence and transcendence. Alas for Rich Mullins (RIP). But for all his lyrical artistry, even he is starting to sound worn (and, lets face it, so 1990’s). Sara Groves is very, very good. (Real men indeed listen to her all the time, then tell the world on blogspot.) But one gets the impression at times that her God is some mystical entity, with fuzzy borders, more often named “Hope” than “Jesus.”
And I have never been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman. I think his lyrics have always been sound, but there was always something just a little too Nashville about him, like we should all get funky and jump around to guitar music (e.g. “so sink or swim I’m divin’ in,” etc).
A month or so ago I happened upon a favorable review (somewhere) of Beauty Will Rise, and I decided to download it. I had already heard the tragic story. Chapman’s 6 or 7-year-old daughter accidentally struck and killed by her teenage brother backing the family SUV out of the driveway. As a father of two girls, I cannot imagine. The grief ended Chapman’s music career, though, as it turned out, not permanently. He’s re-emerged and blessed us with these 12 songs, all speaking to the tragedy and his and his family’s journey through it. They all speak poignantly to the journey through the valley of the shadow of death. Has anyone not been there before? Is anyone there right now?
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
We will dance among the ruins,
we will see it with our own eyes
The first song is Chapman’s admission that right now heaven for him is reuniting with his daughter, plain and simple.
Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep
Lying on my chest falling fast asleep
As I sing
He later tells the story of his daughter’s becoming a Christian just days before her death. He speaks of his family’s reuniting with her in heaven, and how in that moment, her brother will finally realize that everything is okay. Then he speaks to the modern day tax collectors and sinners. If God can meet him where he was, then you are most certainly not beyond his reach, though you may be lying in a bed you made for yourself in Sheol.
God’s love is all over this album. It has been a great comfort for me. I highly recommend it.