We kick off this meager attempt at a blog with a brand new ten minute song from one of my all time favorite artists, Andrew Peterson. Andrew is a contemporary Christian musician who hails from Nashville (imagine that!), however he stands above the crowd to me in many ways. His musical progression and lyrical maturation over the years has come to rival the likes of Rich Mullins and Keith Green (don’t worry, these guys will get on this blog, too). His latest album, Light for the Lost Boy, just released last month and I have been drinking deeply of its powerful tunes for a few weeks now. “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” is the masterful ten minute finale that sums up a heart-grabbing theme throughout the record: that life is hard, but God provides hope for the hopeless and light for the lost.
Musically, it is a challenge to pull off a decent ten minute song. To do it, you usually need to divide it into movements with crescendos and several tempo changes. And there are usually large gaps lyrically, for who wants to write that many words just for one song? Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to pen a verse, a chorus, and then just hit repeat for three and a half minutes. But not Peterson. This song is one long movement – always rising and always building momentum. There are four long verses, an even longer bridge, and a chorus. And like any good song, it feels like it’s over way too soon, even after ten minutes (9 minutes and 56 seconds to be exact).
Marrying this musical accomplishment with the beautiful poetry about some of the greatest truths of all time is really where the song anchors into me. The song is about thankfulness, as you might have guessed. Specifically, a thankfulness in the face of sorrow, pain and hopelessness. But it is not a “hey, cheer up and be positive, even though things stink right now” song. No, it reaches far beyond any sentiment to find the supercharged life of God’s best promises. This song has both girth and beauty.
It says to the one who stares into each night with fear and despair that God brings the morning sun.
It says to the one who grimaces at all the measureless evil in this world that God has also made beauty for us to find everyday in His creation (nature, children, etc.).
It says to the one weighed down by regret and loss that God brings the ultimate power of forgiveness and grace.
It says the one who has no hope and sees the end near that God is going to make all things new again!
And after each verse, the chorus rings out our hearts truest form of joy here on earth: gratitude to our great God and Savior for His many and wonderful promises.
But the part of this song that rips me apart every time I hear it is in the bridge. Listen:
Now I can see the world is charged/It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars/Dripping from prophets’ lips
But still, my thirst is never slaked/I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache/But still I will give thanks for this
‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat/I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks/It’s blazing in the midnight sun
Just behind a veil of wind/A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim/Making ready for the Reckoning
Oh, how long, how long?
Oh, sing on, sing on
You see, Andrew Peterson goes beyond a song about aching for Heaven. He goes beyond praising God for His promises, even when life is hard. He takes it all together and suggests that our gratitude is our reward and that “maybe it’s a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to broken then redeemed by love.”
Romans 8:18-30 sum up this truth and when read together as a whole it clearly shows the power of gratitude amidst suffering. For life on this earth is full of suffering. Without God’s promises, we would be hopeless and lost. Instead, for those who believe, we are full of light and gratitude, which leads to joy and strength. Thank you, Andrew, for this gift. And thank Jesus Christ for all of this!