Steven Curtis Chapman was born in Paducah, Kentucky on November 21, 1962. He released his debut album, FIRST HAND, in 1987. Fast forward to 2001 and he released his tenth album, DECLARATION (Sparrow). It was produced by Brown Bannister and Steven, and executive produced by Peter York and Dan Raines. It won a Dove Award for ‘Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year’ and peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 which includes mainstream artists. In the liner notes Steven writes: “All glory, honor, and praise to the Author and Perfecter of our faith. You alone are God...Thank You, Father, for Your relentless commitment to Your ‘good work’ in me, and for allowing me to share the process with my friends through the gift of music”.
Up first is ‘Live Out Loud’, a co-write with good friend Geoff Moore that uses a ‘party choir’. This terrific pop/rock song is about sharing the Good News: “Well, I’ve been given more than Regis ever gave away/I was a dead man who was called to come out of my grave/And I think it’s time for makin’ some noise/Wake the neighbors, get the word out/Come on, crank up the music/Climb a mountain and shout/This is life we’ve been given made to be lived out/So la, la, la, la/Live out loud/Live out loud, yeah”. ‘This Day’ is one of ten songs solely written by Chapman. It reminds us not to get too far ahead of ourselves: “Who knows what tomorrow’s light will bring/Tears to cry or maybe songs to sing out loud/But only God can see that far away/And He made us for living day by day/Cause He wants us to see/That the God that He’s been every day of history is who He is this day”. Chapman and James Isaac Elliott co-wrote ‘Jesus is Life’, a pop/rock testimonial: “Imagine the deepest sea without a drop of water/An infinite galaxy without even one single star/That’s how I would be, so absolutely empty/Without Jesus’ life in me there’d be no life at all/More than just a part/He’s the very heart of everything I am/Jesus is life, yeah, oh, oh, oh (2X)/The air I’m breathing/Why my heart is beating/Everything I’m needing/Jesus is life (2X)”.
Next up is ‘No Greater Love’ which is dedicated to Nate Saint and four missionary friends who were killed by the Waodoni people of Ecuador. One of the killers, Mincaye, now a convert, is heard singing/chanting at the end of this song. Here is the chorus: “There is no greater love than this/There is no greater gift that can ever be given/To be willing to die so another might live/There is no greater love than this”. ‘God is God’ is a great adult contemporary ballad with these lyrics included: “God is God and I am not/I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting/God is God and I am man/So I’ll never understand it all/For only God is God.../Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge/How unsearchable/For to Him, and through Him, and from Him are all things”.
Steven co-wrote ‘See the Glory’ with son Caleb. This rocker reminds us not to settle for less than what God has for us: “The wonder of His grace should take my breath away/I miss so many things when I’m content with/Playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon/I’m eating candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast/I’m wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean/I know the time has come for me to/Wake up and see the glory”. ‘Bring It On’ is an amazing rock track that tackles Satan head on: “I know I’ve got an enemy waiting/Who wants to bring me pain/But what he never seems to remember/What he means for evil God works for good/So I will not retreat or surrender/Bring it on/Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll/Let the storm winds blow/Bring it on/Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall/Let it make me strong/Bring it on”.
Bernie Herms plays synthesizer on ‘When Love Takes You In’, a beautiful song about adoption: “You’ve heard about a place called home/But there doesn’t seem to be one for you/So one more night you cry yourself to sleep/And drift off to a distant dream/Where love takes you in and everything changes/A miracle starts with the beat of a heart/When love take you home and says you belong here/The loneliness ends and a new life begins/When love takes you in”. ‘Magnificent Obsession’ serves as a prayer: “Everything my heart desires/Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus/Be my magnificent obsession/So capture my heart again/Take me to depths I’ve never been/Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy/Return me to the cross and let me be completely lost/In the wonder of the love that You’ve shown me/Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things”.
‘Declaration of Dependence’ is a bouncy pop song that uses handclaps. Unfortunately, it begins with some pretty cheesy lyrics: “Now just the other day I overheard a flower talking to the sky/He said you know that I would be nothing without You, oh, oh/He said you give me rain, you give me sun, a place to shine.../And then the flower started singing a song/Before I knew it I was singing along/And we sang/This is my declaration of dependence/This is my declaration of my need”. On ‘God Follower’ Steven shares his heart’s desire: “I want to be a God follower/I want to go wherever He leads/I want to be a God follower/I want to walk the trail He’s marked for me/And be a God follower/And now I journey on with purpose and with passion/Just like a dead man who’s been given breath again”. Scott Sheriff is a background vocalist.
‘Carry You to Jesus’ is about intercession: “I will carry you to Jesus/He is everything you need/I will carry you to Jesus on my knees”. Last up is the wonderfully orchestrated ‘Savior’. The final words on the record are fitting: “And who is this one nailed to a cross/Who would rather die than leave us lost?/He’s come to rescue us, come to set us free/Hallelujah, hallelujah!/It is Christ the Lord/Our Savior”.
DECLARATION clocks in at almost 57 minutes long, but there is very little in the way of filler here. The majority of the songs declare God’s goodness. They focus on how we have been given Christ, life, grace, and love. Other songs show how we should respond. We are to share the Gospel with others, be engaged in spiritual warfare, care for little ones, and be a people of prayer. Musically, these songs are quite artistic and pop, rock, and adult contemporary sounds combine for a knockout album! Fans of Newsboys and Michael W. Smith will appreciate DECLARATION, which I’m rating 98%. For more info visit: www.stevencurtischapman.com.