I've known the name of Andrew Peterson for awhile. I knew that he was a singer/songwriter/author who moved in the whole Caedmon's Call/Derek Webb circle and was a part of the Rabbit Room group. But I had never actually listened to any of his music until a little over a week ago. I was browsing the YLCF blog when I read Lanier's post on Peterson's 2005 album The Far Country. I listened to a couple of the songs and was interested enough to purchase the entire album.
I have not stopped listening to it since. Peterson's work falls just where I want my Christian music to be: not so cryptic that I have to use every brain cell to figure out what in the heck the writer is talking about, but not the empty calories of modern CCM fare either. This album focuses on heaven and the role it plays, not just in our future, but in our everyday lives.
It opens with the upbeat title track "The Far Country". Here, Peterson compares our journey on earth to Abraham's journey to the Promised land. We wander in a land that is foreign to us on a journey to the place that, though unseen, is where we belong. This trend continues in "Lay Me Down", which gives a brief outline of Peterson's life yet reminds us that this is simply the beginning of the story and it does not end with our death.
The slow, rhythmic "Queen of Iowa" is a lovely tribute to one of Peterson's fans who was dying of cancer and HIV. This particular song has been stuck in my head and in my heart since the first time I heard it, especially this part:
There was peace like a river in a valley of bones
It fills the valley up and it carries them home
To come alive again
In the river of Grace
Like the Queen of Iowa
Take a hold of the golden mane
This is the love of Jesus
So good but it is not tame
"Mystery of Mercy" is such a stirring song, reminding us of our own worthlessness and of God's grace with the line "My God, my God, why hast Thou accepted me?". Plus, the hammered dulcimer alone makes this song worth listening to. And, the slow and graceful "All Shall Be Well" speaks of pressing on towards the goal, even in the darkest of times.
Finally, there is "For the Love of God". Written on the occasion of a friend's marriage, this song beautifully speaks of what true love and marriage are all about. It is absolutely beautiful and has found a place on my "Songs I want to play at my wedding" list.
You can listen to the entire album here and you can purchase it at either iTunes or The Rabbit Room store. It has been a long time since I have found an album that has moved me so much. I am now eagerly awaiting the release of Andrew's new album, Counting Stars. Also, you must see Andrew's first ever music video for a song from this new album, "Dancing in the Minefields". Another great ode to love and marriage.