Michael Card was born on April 11, 1957 in Madison, Tennessee. His first album was 1981’s FIRST LIGHT. He co-wrote ‘El Shaddai’ with John Thompson. It won Song of the Year at the 1983 GMA Dove Awards and he won Songwriter of the Year. Other songs he is known for include: ‘Scandalon’, ‘Known by the Scars’, ‘So Many Books’, ‘Jubilee’, and ‘Love Crucified Arose’. You may know him as a Bible teacher on Day of Discovery. He has also authored over 25 books! In 2002 he released the album A FRAGILE STONE (Covenant Artists). He wrote the majority of the songs on it alone.
The title track ‘A Fragile Stone’ is a beautiful song co-written with Scott Roley who also provides additional vocals. Pat Coil plays the B3. The song reflects on how Jesus viewed Peter: “He called you the rock, the foundation/Of a temple formed from God’s love/His robe of forgiveness wrapping you up/Meant trusting in Him was enough/His love called you out on the water/And held you when you were alone/For you were the rock that was/Broken by love, forever the fragile stone”. ‘Sea of Souls’ is a musically eclectic track that runs close to eight minutes long. On it you will hear the banjo, hurdy-gurdy, fiddle, cittern, pennywhistle, and hammer dulcimer. The lyrics find Peter reminiscing: “All through the night of toil and sweat/With empty souls and empty nets/So hopeless I will not forget/That night so dark and cold/Then with the dawn He rose in view/And filled our nets and my soul too/With the fisher king my rendezvous/Upon the sea of souls (2X)”.
‘Living Stones’ is a pretty ballad that reflects on who Christ is and the effects He has on folks: “See, in Zion He is known/A chosen, precious cornerstone/And the ones who come to trust in Him/Will never know the shame/That He bore on that Cross when it seemed that all was lost/He is the Stone that makes men stumble/The Rock that makes them fall”. ‘I Left Everything to Follow You’ finds Kirk Whalum on saxophone and uses a choir. Michael Card writes: “This song is dedicated to countless missionaries who’ve left everything to follow Jesus, who labor in dangerous and lonely places far from the spotlight and the sound of applause. I hope this helps in some small way”. Here are some of the words of the song: “But what is my petty offering/To Your sacrifice?/I gave up my home/But You left paradise/And what You called me to offer/Has really set me free/Cause You left everything to be with me”.
Michael plays the harp on ‘I am not supposed to be Here’. It recounts Peter’s dealings with Cornelius: “My stumbling faith responded to what my mind said wasn’t right/So I left that place and followed in a dream/To find unfamiliar strangers who were hungry for the Light/Then I realized that no one is unclean”. Michael is joined on vocals by Darwin Hobbs on ‘Not That Kind of King’. Musically, the song incorporates elements of blues, jazz, and black Gospel music. These lyrics focus on Jesus’ earthly mission: “He has come to suffer and He has come to die/Crucified in weakness and you may wonder why/Though He could call the angels/He will not say a thing/Because, you see, He’s not that kind of king”.
‘Stranger on the Shore’ is a quiet song with John Catchings playing cello. It is based on John 21 and a sermon by Dr. William Lane. The song contains these words of admonition: “You need to be confronted by the stranger on the shore/You need to have Him search your soul, you need to hear the call/You need to learn exactly what it means for you to follow/You need to realize that He’s asking for it all”. Craig Duncan plays the hammer dulcimer and Pat Coil plays the B3 on ‘His Gaze’. It is a compelling song that includes these powerful words: “Our eyes met once across a barren place/Where I denied I even knew His name/What broke my heart was not the look upon His face/But knowing that He loved me still the same/It is the very way He looks upon us all/This moment seeing all that we might be/No hint of condemnation can be seen within His eyes/For He has been condemned for you and me”.
‘Walking on the Water’ is a mighty fine, upbeat bluegrass track that uses dobro, banjo¸fiddle, and mandolin. Buddy Greene and Christine Dente are on backing vocals. Michael wrote the song with his friend Chuck Beckman in the late 70’s at Western Kentucky University. Matthew 14:22-33 is the inspiration: “Stepped out on the raging sea and kept my eyes on Him/But every time I looked away I started sinking in, I started sinking in/Just as I was losing hope/Jesus took my hand/Tell me, Peter, where’s your faith?/You know I’ll help you stand/Only I can help you stand”. ‘Mourning the Death of a Dream’ speaks of the downside of being a traveling musician and a traveling musician’s wife: “Cool morning shadows sadly shift across the floor/Each time we say goodbye it’s harder than before/Even after all the pain of parting still we find/That we must mourn the death of the dreams we leave behind.../The sacrifice that we both lay before His feet/A thousand moments that belonged to us/That now will never be”. The album ends with an instrumental entitled ‘Sea of Solos (Reprise)’.
A FRAGILE STONE is an excellent album of mostly mellow, easy listening music that adults will appreciate much more than youth will. The musicianship is highly skilled and Michael’s vocals are smooth, warm, and well-suited to telling Biblical stories. One could use this project for personal devotions and reflection. Fans of Tim Daniels, Scott Wesley Brown, and John Michael Talbot should acquire this album which I’m rating 93%. For more info visit: www.michaelcard.com.