Steven Curtis Chapman was born in Paducah, Kentucky on November 21, 1962. He released his debut album FIRST HAND in 1987. It gave birth to the song ‘Weak Days’ which peaked at #2 on the CCM chart. In 2013 Chapman released his sixteenth studio album, THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING, which was his first on Reunion Records. It was produced by Brent Milligan and Chapman. The executive producer was Terry Hemmings. It peaked at #27 on the US Billboard 200 and #2 on the US Christian Albums (Billboard) chart. In a press release Steven said: “I’m more convinced than ever that God does know the plans that He has for us and He will finish what He started. God is telling an amazing, glorious, epic story. We have to decide if we will trust Him with it”.
Starting things off is the title track ‘Glorious Unfolding’. Steven plays acoustic guitar, piano, and mandola on it and there is a string arrangement by Carl Marsh. It is a stellar adult contemporary song of encouragement for the discouraged: “Lay your head down tonight/Take a rest from the fight/Don’t try to figure it out/Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart/Cause I know this is not anything like you had thought/The story of your life was gonna be/And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it’s just not true/There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold/And this is going to be a glorious unfolding/Just you wait and see and you will be amazed/You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over/So hold on to every promise God has made to us/And watch this glorious unfolding”. The album’s debut single became a #1 hit. On ‘Love Take Me Over’ claps, stomps, bass, synth bass, electric guitar, and piano are attributed to Brent Milligan. This happy pop song has a catchy chorus: “Love, take these words that I’m speaking/Love, take these thoughts that I’m thinking/Love, take me over/Love, fill up all of my space and love, stand right here in my place/Love, hear this prayer that I’m praying/Love, take me/Love, take me over (2X)”.
Steven, Scott Sheriff, and Herb Chapman sing backing vocals on ‘Take Another Step’. This is one of five songs that Steven’s son Will Franklin Chapman plays drums on. These lyrics admit that life isn’t always a bed of roses: “Then the lightning flashed, the thunder crashed/And suddenly it began to rain and everybody ran/Then the sky went as black as midnight/And you couldn’t see/Paralyzed by what you just can’t understand/And now here you are/You’re afraid to move/You don’t know where to go/You don’t know what to do”. On ‘Something Beautiful’ Steven and Luke Brown sing backing vocals. This cheery pop song uses stomps and claps and speaks of God’s ability to redeem and restore: “And God says ‘I’m gonna turn it into something different/I’m gonna turn it into something good/I’m gonna take all the broken pieces/And make something beautiful like only I could’/So put it all in the hands of the Father/Give it up, give it all over to/The only One who can turn it into/Something beautiful/Something really beautiful”.
‘Finish What He Started’ is a beautiful song that testifies to God’s faithfulness to us: “And it may feel like 40 long days in a hard driving rain/Or 40 years in a dry desert sand/But when He’s finished, we will see a beautiful tapestry/And know that nothing has been wasted in the end.../And we will stand as the ones completed/By the miracle of His love/We’ll sing of His goodness and sing to His glory/As we tell the story of how God has, He has finished what He started”. ‘Only One and Only You’ is a lovely ballad that uses strings, horns, and cymbals. It will encourage many females who struggle with self-esteem: “I caught you looking in the window at your reflection and I could see you were unimpressed/I watch you wither like a willow at what you think are imperfections/When you compare you to all the rest/And I wish I could find a way to make you see you the way I do/So I wrote this song for you/You’re better than a Beethoven symphony/And Mona Lisa wishes she could be a masterpiece like you/More than any Michelangelo/When I look at you I know/There’s no other masterpiece like you/You are the one and only you”.
Steven wrote ‘See You in a Little While’ for Grandma Chapman. It is a sentimental song with substance: “I’ll see you in a little while (2X)/It won’t be long now/We’ll see it on the other side/The wait was only the blink of an eye/So I’m not gonna say goodbye/Cause I’ll see you in a little while/And just one more thing before I let you go/Please tell my little girl I love her/Though I’m sure she already knows/And ask the Father to please tell the Son/That we’re ready and waiting for Him to come”. On ‘A Little More Time to Love’ Blair Masters plays the dulcimer and Stu Garrard plays electric guitar. This inspirational anthem encourages us to care for the least of these: “There are little ones hungry for love of a family/So many hungry for bread/On the left and the right, surrounded by the last and the least/And just down the street and just across the table/Hungry hearts are waiting to be fed/Cause deep in our soul we’re all longing to be at the Feast.../We’ve got a little more time to do justly and love mercy/And show the love we’ve been shown”.
Several of Steven’s family members contribute backing vocals to ‘Sound of Your Voice’ including his wife Mary Beth. It is an adult contemporary number that anticipates Heaven: “And I’ll close my eyes for a moment/When I open them again/You’ll be standing there face to face/And I’ll sing for joy and I will finally hear Your voice”. ‘Together’ is a moving adult contemporary ballad: “We’ve climbed up mountains higher than were ever in our hopes and plans/We’ve held onto each other’s hands/Watched miracles unfold together/And we’ve crawled on our hands and knees/Through valleys cold and dark and deep/Sometimes not even sure if we could make it out alive together/And if it wasn’t for God’s mercy and His grace/There’s no way we would be standing in this place”.
In 2008 Steven and Mary Beth’s adopted daughter Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman was accidentally run over in their driveway by their son Will Franklin. On ‘Michael and Maria’ Andy Leftwich plays mandolin and violin. Sam Levine plays the penny whistle. The song deals with grief: “We never knew how much our hearts could hurt until we lost you/I know we didn’t really lose you/That’s just how it feels down here/Right now it seems we’ll never understand God’s higher ways/But we are trusting Him until the day we do/And He will carry us, just like He carries you/So Michael and Maria, we’ll see you soon”. ‘Feet of Jesus’ finds Steven setting a good spiritual example for us: “In the arms of Jesus, I will find my peace and rest/I hear Him calling ‘Come to Me and rest’/Carried by my Shepherd, cradled tightly to His chest/There and there alone, my soul finds rest”.
THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING is a superb adult contemporary album with pop and inspirational influences as well. This is an album that shows great spiritual maturity. The lyrics place full and total faith and trust in God even if one’s circumstances in life are less than desirable or even a living hell. Ultimately Mr. Chapman makes it clear that he has a sure and strong hope in the life to come, in eternity, in Heaven. There there will be no more sorrow, suffering, or trials and troubles of any kind. I’m rating THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.stevencurtischapman.com, www.providentlabelgroup.com, and www.showhope.org.