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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.

Eileen and I led music at The Open Door last night.  I was especially excited to help choose songs last night because I wanted to introduce a new song from the Songs for a Revolution of Hope cd.  The song was Let Your Kingdom Come, by Brian McLaren and Tracy Howe.  I love this song for several reasons: (1) It is a song calling for God to establish justice and peace – not just a song about inward devotion or about pleasant feelings, but about genuine Kingdom life; (2) It is a holistic picture of justice and peace: the lyrics of the verses address poverty, economic sin, violence, war, and care for the earth as God’s creation; (3) it climaxes with a plea for the Kingdom to come and let “every knee bow to the One who was, will be, and is now, and let justice roll, as rivers run, and let death give way to resurrection.”  What an amazing blend of Philippians 2 and Amos 5 – both high Christology and holistic salvation! 

After the service I told BJ that I don’t really care if people liked how well we sang the song – I just want people to understand and sing passionately songs like it about justice and faith.  I hope it will catch on, both at Open Door and at other places, and I pray that God will continue to bless musicians with the ability to write more songs like this.