Prime Cuts: Our God is in Control, Heaven is the Face, February 20th
Sometimes tears have away to wash away the manufactured superficiality encasing so many modern songs today. Though Chapman is by no means a nouveau in the contemporary Christian music market, lately his songs possess a platonic platitude. However, a freak accident tragically took away the life of one of his adoptive daughters devastating the Chapman family. After one and a half years of struggling with the pain of the tragedy, Chapman finally chronicles his pain in the light of God's Word via these 12 newly penned songs. What functions as this album's trump card is that Chapman is not afraid to confess his fears, doubt, pain and frustrations. Yet not all is left in the mire of self pity and despair. Rather, hope and faith in the sovereignty of God amidst suffering beams just as bright over the course of the CD. At the end of the day, this is one of the most balanced albums in Chapman's illustrious career.
Personal references to the death of Maria are especially poignant in the piano-led "February 20th." The title refers to the day Maria came to know Christ as her Lord and Savior, just three months shy before her death. The tracks is blanched with so much melancholy that ought to strike a chord with anyone who has had suffered lost. Despite its sleek rhythm beat, album opener and current single "Heaven is the Face" details Chapman's fatherly grief of losing his daughter. But these songs are not just specific to the catastrophic plight of the Champans, there's a universality rhetoric to them that has ways of reaching those who are suffering. Words like these from the popish acoustic "See" echoes the universal cries of the suffering, "But right now all I can say is, 'Lord, how long?' / Before You come and take away this aching / This night of weeping seems to have no end / But when the morning light breaks through / We'll open up our eyes and we will see... / Wait and see / Oh taste and see that the Lord is good / The Lord is good."
What makes "Beauty Will Rise" such a spiritual treasure trove is that Chapman knows that grief left alone will only evolve into bitterness and destruction. Rather, grief can only find healing when it's brought before the throne of God in worship. Such is the theme of the treacly worship anthem "Our God is In Control." The title track "Beauty Will Rise," a declaration of faith in the reliability of God, is old-school Chapman with this multiple Dove award winner rocking his boots off with his screeching electric riffs and pulsating drum beat. Continuing on the same theme is "Jesus Will Meet You There" here Chapman paints vignettes of Christ and his comforting presence in various trying times.
With the current obsession of today's messages on prosperity and well-being, it's easy to be too earthly-blinded for any heavenly good. However, tragedy has a way of re-directing us towards thinking about death, the after-life and heaven. "Just Have to Wait" is sober comfort for those whose trust is in Christ, yet it has a way of poking the unbeliever to think of the after-life in non-preachy yet compelling ways. On the whole, Chapman's "Beauty Will Rise" is an important sonic tome in the canon of contemporary Christian music. "Beauty Will Rise" not only addresses one of human being most searching questions, the question of suffering, but it also provides the best answer. Only in God's sovereign grace, can one find healing, insights and spiritual strength.