According to Wikipedia.org: “A Ragamuffin Band is a musical group founded by Rich Mullins in 1993, when he gathered friends from other bands to back his A LITURGY, A LEGACY & A RAGUMUFFIN BAND album. The band continued to record and tour with Mullins, and even carried on after his 1997 death”. In his book ‘The Ragamuffin Gospel’ (1990), Brennan Manning defined ‘ragamuffins’ as “the burdened, the wobbly and weak-kneed, the inconsistent, unsteady disciples...the smart people who know they are stupid...the honest disciples who admit they are scalawags”. In 1999 the album PRAYERS OF A RAGAMUFFIN (Myrrh) came out. Band members at the time were: Rick Elias, Mark Robertson, Jimmy Abegg, and Aaron Smith.
‘Make Me an Instrument’ is a prayerful adult contemporary ballad: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace/Where there’s hatred let me show love/And where there is injury, pardon/And where there is doubt, then faith/And where there’s despair, then hope.../Let the blood of Your Son cover me/Touching my spirit/Seizing my soul”. ‘Nothing You Don’t Know’ is one of two songs written by Mark Robertson. This one is an adult rock song that declares total dependence on God: “I can’t live without the passion of the One who shaped it all/Created the heavens and the earth, yet saved my soul/But that’s nothing You don’t know”.
Next up is ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ a cheery pop song: “Little children are a wonder/Life pure witness to the Maker/There’s nothing finer than the innocence we’re born in/To the glory of the King/Brother sun, sister moon/Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” ‘Faith, Hope, Love’ is a great confessional rock song: “Hear this ragamuffin’s prayer/Cuz I got nothing else/I don’t need nothing but faith to make me strong/I don’t need nothing but hope to keep moving on/But most of all love/I don’t need nothing this world ever claimed to give/Throw the old man away and let the new man live/And all that he’ll need to rise above/Is faith, hope, and love”.
‘Help Thou My Unbelief’ is one of three songs written by Rick Elias. It’s a moving ballad that cries out to God for help: “Tempted by shadows and scourged by the night/I long for the warmth of the sun/Exposing my weaknesses/Revealing all lies/Finish the work You’ve begun/For I am undone/Help Thou my unbelief/Lest I fall away/And give my heart wings/With visions and dreams/The world cannot steal away”. Rich Mullins co-wrote ‘My Heart Already Knows’. It’s about grasping truth: “If I ever learn what my heart already knows/And not feel the hurt that I wear on my sleeve/But the laughter that burns inside my soul/Let the child come alive, and drive away these ghosts/You know my head ain’t even close to what my heart already knows/Lord, I’m asking for this sign/Light my heart up with my mind”.
‘Bouncing off the Ceiling’ is a catchy adult rock song about prayer: “Sometimes I get the feeling my prayers bounce right off the ceiling/And they spin around the room with me and they never get to You/And though my head is reeling I will still go on believing/They’ll fly like holy missiles and tear a hole right through the roof/My one wish is to break through, when I try to get to You/My one fear is a deaf ear/Please tell me it ain’t true”. ‘God Grant me Tears’ includes these words desiring purification: “God grant me tears/Enough to wash these sins away/Away from my heart today/And forever/Let the wild wind blow/Let it drive them to a barren place/Scatter them without a trace/God grant me tears I pray”.
Aaron Smith wrote ‘Shout’, a bluesy rocker of determination: “I’m gonna shout, gonna shout, cause I feel alright/I’m gonna shout with the rocks crying out tonight/I’m gonna shout til my soul finds sweet relief/I’m gonna find a secret place and get down on my knees/I’m crying to the Lord, saying/’Please, please, please!’” ‘We’ll Be Together Again’ is one of two songs penned by Jimmy Abegg. It’s a pretty song of anticipation on which Jim Hoke plays the pennywhistle: “We’ve been the beggars who ride wishes horses/Living like dreamers, I won’t deny/All of our dreaming was only a moment/But we’ll be together again/You’re standing beside me, laughing out loud/I’m standing beside you, a laugh and a prayer/You’re standing beside me/Arms stretching wide/Singing your freedom/We’ll be together again”.
PRAYERS OF A RAGAMUFFIN is a very solid album. Other talented personnel on the album are: the now late Tom Howard, Eric Darken, Phil Madeira, Neil Rosengarden, Linda Elias (background vocals), The Ragamuffin Choir, and the Nashville String Machine. Piano, percussion, organ, and horns all add flavor here. It is clear that the Ragamuffin Band wants to be pure and used by God for good things while on this earth. There are also songs here about being in love with God and being grateful for who He is and what He has done. In addition, there are a few songs about doubt, which is something we all struggle with at one time or another. I’m rating this album 86% and recommending it to fans of Bruce Springsteen and Big Tent Revival. For more info connect with the band members on Facebook.