Andrew Peterson is well established in the field of Christian Music with earthy music and contemplative lyrics. His most recent album release, The Burning Edge of Dawn is a brave and imaginative expression of eschatological hope; he dares to explore, from artistic perspective, future hope in Christ and what that means for the believer and for the world.
The album closes with a masterpiece – The Sower’s song. Like most any song I choose for review, its beauty lies not just in the lyrics or the music independently, but in the way the two marry together; each to fill the other with meaning. I especially appreciate when the lyrics approach a distinct theological or biblical theme, and the music is crafted to further enhance that theme. The Sower’s Song is a beautiful expression of surrender, trust, and hope for future redemption.
Christian maturity is the work of placing Christ before self (Mark 8:34) and laying one’s life down as a ‘living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:1). Peterson opens the song, “Oh God, I am furrowed like the field; torn open like the dirt, and I know that to be healed I must be broken first.” The garden metaphor streams through the song, even as the theme evolves. The desire is to see “branches bear new fruit as your word takes root”, and to “remove in me the branch that bears no fruit.” Musically, the use of a simple piano accompaniment with a slightly distant sound, coupled with some pizzicato strings gives the feeling of striving toward something not yet complete. The chord structure supports this idea too, using the IV (first inversion) and V (first inversion), but reluctant to arrive home at the I chord leaving a feeling of unresolved tension. We are each a work in progress as Christ completes in us what he has begun. Peterson is a master at painting a picture like this, and as the first section concludes we sense the sincerity with which he approaches his art, and how devoted he is to painting the picture of God the gardener, and us the soil.
The second section changes direction, shifting from the theme of individual surrender to future hope while staying with God as the Sower; “We shall be led in peace, and go out with joy”, “a sign everlasting that will never be cut off as the earth brings forth sprouts from the seed”, “the Word of the Lord will not return void, we shall be led in peace and go out with joy.” Lyrics like these are poured over while the music crescendos with cavernous, pounding beats and the tempo speeds up; and as I listen to this song it grabs me, not just in my mind, but at a much deeper emotional level. The whole of the music, the lyrics, the instrumentation, the emotion in his voice cause me as the listener to feel the same way I feel when I imagine the final appearance of Christ. We as Christians are leaning forward in our future hope in much the same way the writer of Revelation ends his book, “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, come.” To me, Peterson brings this longing to life with The Sower’s Song.