Glimpses of God (Vol. 1)
Exploring the increasing tendency toward spiritual longing in today's mainstream music, including Grammy-winning albums from Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay.
This feature isn't about "safe music." We're not vouching for the personal faith of the artists listed below, nor are we suggesting that they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
What we are calling attention to is the increased interest in spiritual subject matter in today's popular music outside the Christian subculture. Despite the rise in explicit content within popular music in recent years, there has also been a rise in spiritual soul searching, with artists expressing a longing for something much deeper than the infamous sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
Skeptical? We would be too. But the artists listed here wouldn't be included if we were just highlighting what Christian listeners wanted to hear. Some of these artists do indeed come from a Christian background, offering glimpses of their faith through their craft. Others still don't know Christ, but they certainly know of him — enough to communicate spiritual longing with an honesty that is refreshing.
We present to you our first edition of "Glimpses of God," six of perhaps many current examples of spirituality found in today's mainstream music. Most songwriters will tell you they like to let listeners interpret songs for themselves rather than define their music for them. Decide for yourself from these examples, but we believe that if nothing else, you can use the music of these artists to, as one speaker once put it, "preach from a common pulpit."
Bruce Spingsteen (Columbia)
"There's spirits above and behind me, faces gone black, eyes' burnin' bright/May their precious blood bind me Lord, as I stand in your fiery light" — from "The Rising"
Such is the plea from the title cut of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band's Grammy-winning Best Rock Album, The Rising, a project on which he still reigns supreme as The Boss while also wearing the hats of both a preacher and a peacemaker. Springsteen has frequently woven themes of spirituality in his songwriting — this disc provides deeply personal, spiritually inspired material about September 11 amidst heavy doses of merrymaking rock and roll.
For instance, cuts like "The Fuse," "Worlds Apart," "Empty Sky," and "You're Missing," a quartet of tactful mini-sermons covering mourning, anger, loss, and restoration. In "Further On Up the Road," Springsteen looks to the hope of heaven for comfort in the loss of a friend: "One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know/And I'll meet you further on up the road." He also expresses faith to persevere in "Lonesome Day" by singing, "'This too shall pass,' I'm gonna pray … Let kingdom come, I'm gonna find my way through this lonesome day."
"My City of Ruins" obviously inspires an image of a stricken and wounded New York, but it is actually about Springsteen's New Jersey upbringing, toward which he pleas for restoration and revival — "The church's door thrown open/I can hear the organ's song/But the congregation's gone/My city of ruins." The chorus soon becomes an intercessory prayer as Springsteen cries, "With these hands I pray for the strength, Lord/With these hands I pray for the faith, Lord/With these hands, I pray for your love, Lord."
In fact, the only song that seems to conflict with the other prayerful tracks is the rousing "Mary's Place," a party-styled anthem in keeping with The Boss' classic "Glory Days" in which he sings "I got seven pictures of Buddha/The prophet's on my tongue." Is he singing personally here or in character for the song? Beyond that track, Springsteen steps up his faith awareness throughout the rest of The Rising, providing solace in his words of faith, hope, and restoration.