Wednesday, April 04, 2012


It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since Steven Curtis Chapman put out his first album, 1987's FIRST HAND! I remember buying it on cassette at the old Country Parsons store on Broadway Street in Tillsonburg, Ontario. Last year Chapman released re:creation (Sparrow Records) which he co-produced with Brent Milligan. In the liner notes he writes: "Thank you once again to radio, press, retail, and concert promotion partners that make it possible for me to still reach as many people as possible with the words and music God has given me. Humbled and more grateful than ever." This CD contains six new songs and eight remakes of his classics.

 Let's look at the new tracks first. 'Do Everything' is peppy, finds Steven on ukelele, acoustic guitars, bells, and background vocals, and is his latest number one radio single. Lyrically, it brings to mind Colossians 3:17 which reads: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Some of the words are: "You're picking up toys on the living room floor for the 15th time today/Matching up socks and sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away.../Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you/Cause He made you/To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face/And tell the story of grace with every move that you make/In every little thing you do." 'Long Way Home' is one of eight songs on this project that Steven wrote alone. The song is melodic, has Steven on ukelele, background vocals, and whistle, and Brent Milligan on organ. It speaks of how hard life can be: "I got some rocks in my shoes/Fears I wish I could lose/They make the mountains so hard to climb/And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes/There's a bag of regrets/My should've beens and not yets/I keep on dragging around/And I can hardly wait for the day I get to lay it all down." 'All That's Left' is a great Adult Contemporary song containing these beautiful words: "So let us look into each other's eyes/And read the stories written there between the lines/And take the list of all the wrongs we keep/And tear it into pieces let mercy be the only thing we're harboring/'Cause eventually...we're gonna see that/All that's left is to love/That's all that we have."

 'Meant to Be' is a nicely crafted song that will encourage you when you're feeling down on yourself: "You were meant to be touching the lives that you touch/And meant to be here making this world so much more/Than it would be without you in it/You were meant to be bringing the gifts that you bring/And singing the songs you've been given to sing/You are perfectly, wonderfully/Beautifully meant to be/You were meant to be." 'Morning Has Broken' was first published in 1931. Steven shares the microphone with his son Caleb on this song that is given a fairly traditional treatment and has a positive message. The words are by Eleanor Farjeon: "Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning/Born of the one light, Eden saw play/Praise with elation, praise every morning/God's recreation of the new day." This song goes right into 'Sing Hallelujah' which is a song of joy: "So let's sing hallelujah/The dark night is gone/Creation is singing/So come join in the song/The Father is calling/To come out and play/So we'll sing hallelujah/'Cause it's a brand new day." It should be mentioned that the latter two songs utilize the wonderful Boys Choir of Chattanooga.

 Now let us turn our attention to the eight remakes. 1992's 'The Great Adventure' was penned by Chapman and Geoff Moore. The version here includes the use of the hammered dulcimer and horns. The song has one of the most motivational choruses in the history of CCM: "Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze/Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace/Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown/This is a life like no other oh...this is the Great Adventure!" 'Dive (Deeper)' features pretty flute playing by Sam Levine and continues with the theme of life as an adventure: "But we will never know the awesome power/Of the grace of God/Until we let ourselves get swept away/Into this holy flood/So if you'll take my hand/We'll close our eyes and count to three/And take the leap of faith/Come on let's go." 'Heaven in the Real World' is the title track from Chapman's 1994 album. On this version Steven plays the banjo and strings are used. The song points to the only true hope for a hurting world: "It happened one night with a tiny baby's birth/God heard creation crying and He sent heaven to earth/He is the hope, and the peace/That will make this life complete/For every man, woman, boy and girl/Jesus is the hope and the peace that will make this life complete/For every man, woman, boy and girl/Jesus is heaven in the real world."

 Chapman's son Will Franklin is one of the percussionists on 'Speechless'. The song is easy on the ears and makes it clear that human language is inadequate when it comes to thanking the Lord for who He is and what He has done: "So what kind of love could this be/That would trade heaven's throne for a cross?/And to think You still celebrate/Over finding just one who was lost/And to know You rejoice over us/The God of this whole universe/It's a story that's too great for words." 'Live Out Loud' was track one on Chapman's 2001 project DECLARATION. The version here is quieter than the original but has a groove to it, with Blair Masters on B3, and Luke Brown and Jason Eskridge on background vocals. It shares a similar message to 'This Little Light of Mine': "Think about this...if we really have been given/The gift of a life that will never end/And if we have been filled with living hope we're gonna overflow/And if God's love is burning in our hearts we're gonna glow/There's just no way to keep it in." 'For the Sake of the Call' is very mellow in contrast to the original and uses the xylophone. It speaks of surrendering all that is important to us to the Lord and His purposes: "Empty nets lying there at the water's edge/Told a story that few could believe and none could explain/How some crazy fishermen agreed to go where Jesus lead/With no thought for what they would gain/For Jesus had called them by name and they answered/We will abandon it all for the sake of the call/No other reason at all but the sake of the call/Wholly devoted to live and to die/For the sake of the call."

 'Magnificent Obsession' is a lovely ballad that talks frankly of life's difficulties and concludes that only in Jesus can one find true contentment: "Lord, You know how much/I want to know so much/In the way of answers and explanations/I have cried and prayed/And still I seem to stay/In the middle of life's complications/All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I'm chasing down the wind/But now it's brought me back to You/And I can see again...You are everything I want/You are everything I need/I want You to be my one consuming passion/Everything in my heart desires/Lord, I want it all to be for You/Jesus be my Magnificent Obsession." 'More to this Life' co-written by Phil Naish, is the oldest song here, dating back to 1989. It includes the use of harp, cello, and vibraphone and begins with these bleak words: "Today I watched in silence as people passed me by/And I strained to see if there was something hidden in their eyes/But they all looked back at me as if to say/Life just goes on."

 As most people know, Steven's daughter Maria Sue was tragically killed in a driveway accident in 2008 at their home. In the liner notes Steven writes: "To my God who has sustained me and my family through the darkest of nights and is bringing the dawn of a new morning for the Creator and Re-Creator of all things...all praise and glory!" Steven is the real deal and re:creation is a must have for any fan or collector of CCM. I recommend it to those who enjoy Petra's DOUBLE TAKE album from 2000. I'm rating re:creation 90%. For more info visit,, and