Andrew Peterson, Dove-award nominee, hooked me when he released, “Be Kind to Yourself,” in 2015. This year, he released two albums. Resurrection Letters: Prologue and Resurrection Letters: Volume 1 are prequels to his 2008 album, Resurrection Letters: Volume 2. You might remember that album for the worship song, “All Things New.” Ben Shive cowrote and produced all three albums, which were published by Centricity Music.
In a 5-star review, JesusFreakHideout.com says, “Listening to both volumes of Resurrection Letters is to listen to a master at the height of his craft, diving into the most important and epic rescue story ever told.” Andrew Peterson admitted to feeling unworthy for such a task, but after sharing his own experiences for years, he felt compelled to focus an entire album on the experience of Jesus and those who walked with Him. As it turned out, one album wasn’t enough. “When I die,” Andrew said, “I’m not interested in people saying that I told my own story well, except in how the telling of my own journey might have drawn them to a deeper understanding of the gospel.”
Prologue contains five songs, reflections on the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Listen to the album with headphones. The experience is rich.
Last Words (Tenebrae)- I’m fascinated by last words, but there are none like those of Jesus. In the same way our thoughts rebound off one another, Jesus’ words from the cross gently collide and overlap in this musical meditation.
Well Done, Good and Faithful- “Why, oh why, my God?” Even the piano asks why with its simple refrain as we contemplate the cruelty and sense of abandonment in Christ’s last hours. Why? He willingly suffered for the joy set before Him.
The Ninth Hour- This short orchestral piece is gorgeous, even if you don’t know it’s about Matthew 27:45.
Always Good- Though we focus on Jesus, we’re touched by the gospel because it speaks to our need. This song is about the long, dark weekend after the disciples placed the broken body of their Savior in the tomb. In word, it is. In feeling, it’s about the long, dark days when we wonder if our dreams are dead, when we wonder why we feel low for no reason. Andrew gently gives voice to our hearts with, “My God, My God, be near me. There’s nowhere else to go.” He doesn’t force happiness on us, but the hammered dulcimer and chorus move us to trust that God is always here and always good.
God Rested- God is the only One who can rest as Prologue ends. The Pharisees, Pilate, Peter, Mary and even the musicians are restless, expecting something. Hoping to wake from this nightmare, perhaps. In the middle of a rise toward hope, the song ends abruptly. You won’t want to stop listening. Play Resurrection Letters: Part 1.
Resurrection Letters: Part 1 contains 9 songs, continuing the story with Resurrection Sunday.
His Heart Beats- The heartbeat of the drums makes me want to dance. Andrew sings, “The heavy air surrounding death turns to breath again,” and my hands are in the air before I know it. Ben Shive wrote this song, and it’s the perfect, triumphant opener for Resurrection Day.
Risen Indeed- This is the type of innocently joyous, spring-filled song that drew me to Andrew in the first place. He tells Mary, “Daughter listen, He speaks your name.”
Remember Me- You’ll play this song until you memorize it, because it won’t leave your head unless you do. It’s fast and loaded with excellent lines by Ben Shive. I won’t quote them here, because I’d be denying you the pleasure of discovery. The mandolin is a nice touch.
I’ve Seen Too Much- The Pharisees commanded the disciples to stop talking about Jesus, but that was impossible. They’d seen too much.
Remember and Proclaim- Behind Andrew’s quiet voice and standard hushed production are tribal drums and a rainstick which tempt you to walk outside, certain there’s a party of believers on the other side of the wall, celebrating communion.
Maybe Next Year- An old B-3 organ paints history onto the piano and electric guitar, much like the stories of Isaac and Jesus color a visit to modern Jerusalem. “And when I touched the wall, the veil had never felt so thin.” The song makes me think of Rich Mullins, and I’m grateful to be reminded, “We’ll meet in the New Jerusalem someday. Maybe next year.”
Rise Up- Unexpectedly during this song, my throat tightened with tears. My fists clenched to punch the bully who torments God’s children, and then the lyrics took a triumphant turn. Our Father will rise in our defense.
Is He Worthy?- The scroll-opening scene from Revelation 5 is bound to be a choral hit. With an air of unfolding mystery, Andrew sings, “Does the Spirit move among us?” and the Nashville Youth Choir answers, “He does.”
All Things Together- It’s appropriate that this set should end in a song of worship, accented with hammered dulcimer.
The Resurrection Letters: Prologue and The Resurrection Letters: Part 1 are a set of contemplative songs produced in a way that whispers to the spirit. Even so, it’s easy to imagine churches with big bass and booming voices also performing “His Heart Beats,“ “Remember and Proclaim” and “All Things Together.” The lyrics transcend style.
Andrew Peterson’s music may be found at https://www.andrew-peterson.com/. While you’re there, check out his fantasy fiction series, The Wingfeather Saga.