John Michael Talbot’s music sometimes communicates better than the prose of theologians.
For a number of years I found myself giving my friends and acquaintances one book or another on the topic of the kingdom of God. I had come to the conclusion that the kingdom is the controlling vision of the New Testament but that we twentieth-century Christians had only a faint glimpse of that vision. I no longer give away books. Instead, I pass on the records of John Michael Talbot. His music conveys the vision of the kingdom of God better than some of the best prose of the theologians.
Talbot is a lay brother in the Order of Secular Franciscans. He became a Christian in his teens while he was a member of a rather good country-rock band. His first Christian compositions anticipated themes that he would later develop in more depth. The relationship between Talbot’s early music and his later is like the relationship between the Books of the Prophets and those of the Evangelists, or like the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. In his Beginnings album we hear indictments of the church, “Would You Crucify Him?”; a call to repentance, “Prepare Ye the Way”; and a promise of the coming salvation, “New Earth.”
On his way toward opening the kingdom of God to a fuller view, Talbot put together an arrangement of the traditional liturgy of the church and offered it in the form of an album entitled The Lord’s Supper. In his arrangement, the reality of the kingdom of God is so palpable that it remains indelibly imprinted on the listener’s mind. His rendition of the Apostles’ Creed is one of the strongest affirmations of faith set to music—some would say it rivals even ...1
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