In light of Adam’s post last week about why Christian music is still important, I thought I’d share 5 songs that came from the Contemporary Christian Music genre that have played crucial roles in shaping my faith.
1. “Let There Be Light” by Andrew Peterson. I can think of no better song to summarize the beauty and importance of God’s creation relative to our human ability to create in God’s image. As I have struggled through my own music and writing projects and through the mundane tasks of ordinary life, I just have to remember Andrew Peterson’s words: “And the work of our hands is the salt of the earth/and the music we make is the light of the world/let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”
2. “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot. It’s really hard to pick just one Switchfoot song, especially from their bestselling album Beautiful Letdown. This one was a mega hit for the band, but I never got tired of its discussion of longing and hope for a better life: “we want more than the wars of our fathers/ and everything inside screams for second life…”
3. “He’s Alive,” by Don Francisco. This one goes way back, and it’s one of my earliest memories of Christian music. In folk-ballad style, Don Francisco relates the tale of the morning of Christ’s resurrection, and it’s still a moving and hair-raising telling of the story. What we don’t know at first is that the story is told from Peter’s perspective, and the world-changing significance of the Resurrection becomes intensely personal. When Peter first hears rumors of the resurrection, he thinks, bitterly, “When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name/ And even if He was alive, It wouldn’t be the same.” But when he does see the Resurrected Christ, he encounters a forgiving Lord with open arms: “Guilt in my confusion/ Disappeared in sweet release/ And every fear I’d ever had/ Just melted into peace.” Finally, after a Bob-Dylan-worthy eight verses, the song breaks into its hook and refrain: “He’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive, and I’m forgiven; heaven’s gates are open wide.”
4. “Shifting Sand,” by Caedmon’s Call. Even though I’ve been listening to this album since high school, this song didn’t really hit me until college, when the refrain, “My faith is like shifting sand, so I stand on grace,” finally came home for me as I began to understand that everything — even my faith — was a miraculous work of God’s grace.
5. “If I Stand,” by Rich Mullins. It’s also extremely difficult to pick just one Rich Mullins song, but if I could only have one of his beautiful and insightful pieces, it would be this one, because it sums up most of what I want to say about why and how I believe — there’s “a music higher than the songs that I can sing, but the stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things, so If I stand, let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through, and if I can’t, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you…”
Now, I’d love to hear from you: have any songs, Christian or otherwise, shaped what you believe? (Christian or otherwise)
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)