Michael Card was born in Madison, Tennessee on April 11, 1957. In 1988 he released the two disc set THE LIFE (Sparrow). It is a trilogy on the life of Christ, which contains almost all of the songs from Card’s albums: KNOWN BY THE SCARS (1984), SCANDALON (1985), and THE FINAL WORD (1987). THE LIFE was produced by Norbert Putnam. Card shares: “This trilogy represents a progression, perhaps you might even call it a pilgrimage, through the Gospels...from the Incarnation to the death and Resurrection-those two most implausible, impossible, and unthinkable events, the bookends of that impossible life, the birth and the death of God. It is an ongoing pilgrimage, open to everyone who has the guts and gall for it”.
Disc One begins with ‘Overture to the Trilogy’, a beautiful, mostly instrumental piece. This is followed by a beautiful flute based piece, ‘The Promise’ which tells of prophecy being fulfilled: “The Promise was love and the Promise was life/The Promise meant light to the world/Living proof Jehovah saves/For the name of the Promise was Jesus/The Faithful One saw time was full/And the ancient pledge was honored/So God the Son, the Incarnate One/His final Word, His own Son/Was born in Bethlehem/But came into our hearts to live”.
‘Immanuel’ is a great Christmas themed anthem using a choir: “A sign shall be given, a virgin will conceive a human baby bearing undiminished deity/The glory of the nations/A light for all to see/And hope for all who will embrace His warm reality/Immanuel, our God is with us/And if God is with us, who could stand against us?/Our God is with us, Immanuel”. ‘Carmen Christi’ delivers these words about Christ’s humility in choral fashion: “Who being in very nature God/Would not grasp equality with Him/But made Himself nothing/And took up a servant’s nature”.
‘To The Mystery’ is a light Christian rock track about the immaculate conception: “When the Father longed to show a love He wanted us to know/He sent His only Son and so/Became a holy embryo/That is the mystery/More than you can see/Give up on your pondering/And fall down on your knees”. ‘The Final Word’ is a lovely easy listening ballad about God’s plan for us: “He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son/His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one/Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine/And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine/And so the Light became alive and manna became Man/Eternity stepped into time so we could understand”.
‘Spirit of the Age’ tackles abortion: “A voice is heard of weeping and of wailing/History speaks of it on every page/Of innocent and helpless little babies/Offerings to the spirit of the age/Now, every age had heard it/The voice that speaks from hell/’Sacrifice your children and for you it will be well’” . ‘Celebrate the Child’ is a happy pop praise and worship song using sax: “Celebrate the Child who is the Light/Now the darkness is over/No more wandering in the night/Celebrate the Child who is the Light/First born of creation/Lamb and Lion, God and Man/The Author of Salvation/Almighty wrapped in swaddling bands”.
‘Joseph’s Song’ is a ballad that finds Jesus’ earthly father talking to God: “How could it be, this baby in my arms sleeping now, so peacefully/The Son of God, the angel said/How could it be?/Lord, I know He’s not my own/Not of my flesh, not of my bone/Still Father let this baby be/The son of my love”. ‘Jesus Let us come to Know You’ invites Him in: “Jesus draw us ever nearer/Hold us in Your loving arms/Wrap us in Your gentle presence/And when the rain comes bring us home”.
‘Meditation/Baptism’ runs over five minutes. It begins as an instrumental and eventually goes on to include lyrics: “He came gently and stepped down into the water/With the light of the Father in His face/Son of God He had been since the beginning/Now as Son of Man Jesus took His place/A stone that makes men stumble/And a rock that makes them fall”. ‘Scandalon’ is a light rock number that reminds us we all must make a decision about Christ: “To some He is a barrier, to others He’s the way/For all should know the scandal of believing/He will be the truth that will offend them one and all/A stone that makes men stumble/And a rock that makes them fall/Many will be broken so that He can make them whole/And many will be crushed and lose their own soul”.
‘What Will it Take (To Keep You From Jesus)’ speaks to those who haven’t given their lives to Christ: “And how long before you stop with your reasons/Take your defenses away/It’s only a lie that keeps you from following/Don’t let it stand in your way/So many excuses and so many lies/Are blocking the Light and the Way/But the final decision to follow the Lord can shatter and blow them away”. Closing out Disc One is ‘The Lamb is a Lion’, which reminds us that Jesus was not always meek and mild: “Priests and the merchants demanded some proof/For their hearts were hardened and blind to the Truth/But Satan’s own law is to sell and to buy/But God’s only way is to give and to die/And the Lamb is a Lion who’s roaring with rage/At the empty religion that’s filling their days”.
Disc Two begins with ‘The Wedding’, a pleasant easy listening song about Jesus’ first miracle: “Lord of light, oh, come to this wedding/Take the doubt and darkness away/Turn the water of lifeless living/To the wine of gladness we pray/So amidst the laughter and feasting/There sits Jesus full with the fun/He has made them wine because He is longing/For a wedding that’s yet to come”. ‘The Nazarene’ has a wonderful chorus: “He came, He saw, He surrendered all/So that we might be born again/And the fact of His humanity was there for all to see/For He was unlike any other man and yet so much like me”. ‘The Gentle Healer’ is an effective acapella song that begins: “The Gentle Healer came into our town today/He touched blind eyes and the darkness left to stay/But more than the blindness, He took their sins away/The Gentle Healer came into our town today”.
Card co-wrote ‘Forgiving Eyes’ with Norbert Putnam. It’s told from the perspective of the woman caught in adultery: “My body could feel the stones that were waiting/My judge a man from Galilee/In His eyes so gentle I could see/A father and a brother and a son/Just as I saw Him/The hope I had lost became born again/I was not hopeless though I’d been lost/Now I felt I was found when He looked at me with His forgiving eyes”. ‘God’s Own Fool’ is a light pop track of spiritual invitation: “So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son/For a man never died for a dream/And you’ll have the faith His first followers had/And you’ll feel the weight of the beam”. ‘Why’ uses tambourine and reflects on Judas: “Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?/Why did He use a kiss to show them that’s not what a kiss is for?”
‘Known By the Scars’ is a strong Christian rock song about Christ’s earthly mission: “For a time He sought to tell the world He was the Way/That God the Father had a human heart/With His own holy hands He sought to touch and heal their scars/But they chose to tear those gentle hands apart”. ‘Ride on to Die’ is about Jesus riding into Jerusalem: “Midst the shouting so loud and the joy of the crowd/There is One who is riding in silence/For He knows the ones here will be fleeing in fear/When their shepherd is taken away”. ‘Come to the Table’ is a co-write with Niles Borop. It’s an adult contemporary song of warmth focused on communion: “Come to the table He’s prepared for you/The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release/Come to the table and sit down beside Him/The Savior wants you to join in the feast”.
‘In the Garden’ reflects on Gethsemane: “Trembling with fear, alone in the garden/Battle before the final war/Blood became tears, there in the garden/To fall upon the silent stones/There in the darkness the Light and the darkness stood still/Two choices, one tortured will”. ‘Traitor’s Look’ is a pop/rock song with extremely honest lyrics: “Now, Judas don’t you come too close/I fear that I might see/That traitor’s look upon your face might look too much like me/Cause just like you I’ve sold the Lord and often for much less/And like a retched traitor/I betrayed Him with a kiss”. ‘Cross of Glory’ contains these words of testimony: “Upon the cross of glory/His death was life to me/A sacrifice of love’s most sacred mystery/And death rejoiced to hold Him/For soon He would be free/For love must always have the victory”.
Randy Scruggs co-wrote ‘He Was Heard’, which includes these joyful words: “In the fullness of the promised time/The Final Priest did come and He offered up a living sacrifice/Now we His children wait for Him/With hope and joyful praise/For we know that God has heard Him/For we know that He was raised.../Oh, once and all He paid the cost enduring all the shame”. These lyrics from ‘Crown Him’ make me think of Revelation: “Crown Him! Crown Him!/Holy angels sing/All glory, honor, power, and grace/Crown Him King of Kings!/Crown Him! Crown Him!/Those redeemed and damned will bow with me and humbly sing/Worthy is the Lamb!” Last up is ‘Joy in the Journey’, a ballad that offers great hope: “There is a joy in the journey/There’s a light we can love on the way/There is a wonder and wildness to life/And freedom for those who obey/And all those who seek it shall find it/A pardon for all who believe/Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind”.
THE LIFE is a magnificent 29 track collection focused on the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. It is a good theological study on the Incarnation and the Atonement. This album reinforces my belief that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the only way to heaven and eternal life. Musically, THE LIFE is mainly easy listening and light pop but other genres are also delved into. If your faith and beliefs have been shaky lately, pop these two discs into your player and be encouraged and strengthened! If I could give this project over 100% I would! For more info visit: www.michaelcard.com.