Music Review: Steven Curtis Chapman, "Beauty Will Rise"
Release Date: November 3, 2009 (Sparrow Records)
The words barely begin and there are already tears in my eyes. In the first few lines of the first song listeners can acutely feel both the pain and joy behind the lyrics of Beauty Will Rise. Chapman paints a beautiful picture of a tiny face shining with innocence and love, and one that he misses desperately. “Heaven is the face of a little girl / with dark brown eyes that disappear when she smiles… / God, I know it’s all of this and so much more / and God, you know that this is what I’m longing for. ”
For those of you who may not be aware of recent events, Chapman and his family have suffered a difficult journey through this past year and a half. On May 21, 2008 his youngest adopted daughter, Maria Sue, age 5, was killed in the driveway of their home in a tragic vehicle accident. This album is a reflection of the heart of the Chapman family since that sad event.
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
In the mean time, Steven has not lost hope. In fact, he has allowed the death of his daughter to inspire some amazing new projects. In a recent blog on his website, StevenCurtisChapman.com, Chapman announced that he is opening an orphanage in China called, Maria’s Big House of Hope.
“This building means so much to my family and I, and yet represents now, because of it’s name, something that obviously we never would have scripted or asked for or imagined, and yet we are right in the middle of part of the beauty that God is bringing even out of the pain and ashes out of the last year…” said Chapman in his video blog.
“Beauty Will Rise,” the title track of this newest release, takes the listener through the events of the accident almost step by step. “It was the day the world went wrong, I screamed till my voice was gone / I watched through the tears as everything / came crashing down / slowly panic turns to pain / as we awake to what remains / and sift through the ashes that are left behind / but buried deep beneath of all our broken dreams we have this hope / Out of these ashes / beauty will rise… for we know joy is coming in the morning.” This song is, of course, another tear jerker. The raw emotion behind the words is almost overwhelming, but the lyrics come full circle, from pain to joy, and the hope of the promise. “It will take our breath away to see the beauty that He’s made / Out of the ashes.” The music itself is beautiful, and despite the desperate and difficult themes, still manages to create a sense of being uplifted and inspired.
There is a significance to the song “See,” that goes beyond the lyrics. Just before Maria died, she had drawn a picture of a flower with six petals, and only one of the petals was filled in. Next to the flower was the word, “See.” Just that word and nothing else. There were six children in the Chapman family, with one now in heaven, just like there were six petals on the flower, with only one petal colored in. “Right now all I can taste are bitter tears / right now all I can see are clouds of sorrow. / From the other side of all this pain / is that you are here, laughing loud, calling out to me / saying ‘See, it’s everything that He said it would be, / and even better than you would believe / and I’m counting down the days until you’re here with me / and finally, you’ll see.’” This song is beautifully honest. Although we know there is heaven and hope in our future, the pain right now is very real. But we need to remember that Christ knows our pain and is suffering with us. The Bible says that God is our great Comforter. We need to take Him up on that offer and let Him come in and comfort us.
“God is it True” is a great song that asks some tough question of God. Does He really think of me, love me with out end, and knows every hair on my head? Did He really die for us? Is it true that death can not separate us? The answer in the end to everything is “Trust Me.” It is a slow, quiet prayer strummed thoughtfully on the guitar. It’s good to sometimes be reminded of one simple truth about life in Christ: just trust Him.
“Spring is Coming” closes out the album with honest words of pain, but then the pain leads to a renewal of all things with the coming of spring. Although seeds were planted in the midst of grief, they will still grow into the beauty that God has already planned. “Planted the seed while the tears of our grief soaked the ground. / The sky lost its sun
and the world lost its green to lifeless brown. / Now the chill in the wind has turned the earth hard as stone…/ my heart is heavy now but I’m not letting go of this hope I have that tells me spring is coming…/ All we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear.”
Chapman officially began his music career in 1987 with the release of his debut album, “First Hand.” “Beauty Will Rise,” is number 21; a truly astounding feat for any artist, but especially one in the ever-fickle world of Christian music. His contributions to Christian music have touched many hearts and inspired many more artists in their musical pursuits.
For anyone that has suffered the loss of a close loved one, the reality of heaven takes on a more personal and important significance in Beauty Will Rise. Not only is it the hope for our own personal future, but a present comfort, knowing that our departed loved ones that knew the Lord as Savior are there even now, pain free, living in true glory.
Beauty Will Rise Track Listing
1. Heaven Is The Face
2. Beauty Will Rise
4. Just Have To Wait
7. Our God Is In Control
8. February 20th
9. God Is It True (Trust Me)
10. I Will Trust You
11. Jesus Will Meet You There
12. Spring Is Coming