Charlie Hall’s new cd The Bright Sadness was released today, and I’m impressed. I’ve enjoyed Charlie Hall’s music for a long time because of his ability to blend theologically sound lyrics with creative music, and this new cd continues the same tradition. The theological themes in The Bright Sadness are suffering, mortality, and the hope of new life and resurrection which carries us through darkness. Christ’s victory over death is lifted up in songs like “Chainbreaker” and “Bloom Again”. The sacraments also show up a lot: “Walk the World” has the following chorus: “Let my life shine, come let my heart shine / We’re going to walk the world and lift the bread and wine / Like the stars shine, come and let our hearts shine / In a dark world, we lift the bread and wine.” A little later, in the song “Hookers and Robbers” – in which Hall speaks the words so quickly he’s practically rapping – the pinnacle of the song comes with a reference to the Eucharist: “So wipe off your tears and laugh just a little / Come break the Bread, celebrate the Forgiver / Raise up a glass, a time to remember / Come break this Bread, celebrate the Forgiver”.
Not all the songs are not as user-friendly for corporate worship as others from earlier in Hall’s career, but that’s because the emphasis is on the art of the music. Rather than sounding like baptized pop songs, The Bright Sadness is an artistic portrait of praise in the midst of struggle, one which points to the hope of new life to come after the cross.