The Lord used the music of Rich Mullins to teach me about the power of a song. I have loved music since my first listen through Bon Jovi’s first big album (hey, you have to start somewhere), but Rich was the first artist to really catch my attention with lyrics (no offense, Jon and Richie). He is not the best singer and sometimes his music is way too ‘adult contemporary’ for me, but his songs are powerful. The first song I remember listening to is ‘Bound to come some trouble’ off of the “Never Picture Perfect” album (my youth group did a skit to this song, it was a tear-jerker). I also remember hearing one of my music ministers singing the song ‘If I Stand’ and enjoying it as well. But it wasn’t until the album “A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band” that I was truly drawn in by Rich’s music (I still listen to that album regularly on long road trips, it is one of my all-time favorites, I plan on posting about ‘The Color Green’ at some point). The depth of his songwriting was and is so refreshing. I am not much for the three minute pop song (although I have liked a few of them in my time). But Rich wrote for more than just radio play. Even before I knew of his struggle with the Christian music industry, I could hear the difference in his music. There was a longing there that resonated with my own (at least I hope I have such a longing).
I love the song ‘Calling Out Your Name’ because it catches that longing so well. Rich plays hammered dulcimer on the song (which you can see him doing live here) and it fits so well with the tune. Some see it as just a creation or nature song, but it is more than that. He is using the praise of nature as a spring board for his own praise of the Maker of heaven and earth. I cannot drive by a field without thinking: “I hear the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain, and with the prairies I am calling out your Name.” The last verse describes our longing to be lost in praise. He writes:
“And the place where morning gathers, you can look sometimes forever till you see
How time may never know, how time may never know.
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world and shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope, to run wild with the hope:
The hope that this thirst will not last long that it will soon drown in a song not sung in vain
I hear the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain, and with the prairies I am calling out your Name.”
Powerful words. Truth is, I cannot state my appreciation for Rich’s music in one post, but if you have never heard his music, then stop what you are doing and take some time to listen, to really listen, to one of the greatest songwriters I know. And let the Lord shake you forward and shake you free…
You can listen to the song here: Calling Out Your Name