Song of the Week: Beauty Will Rise - Steven Curtis Chapman

Beauty Will RiseI haven't written a "Song of the Week" post since last year.  Today I am re-instituting this series with a song that I think may possibly be the most perfectly constructed song I've heard in a very long time, the title song off Steven Curtis Chapman's masterpiece Beauty Will Rise.

Some amazing songs come out of personal tragedy.  If you're as old as I am, you can remember the tragic loss of Eric Clapton's son Conor in 1991, and cried the first time you heard "Tears in Heaven" because of it.  John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" is another amazing song born out of personal tragedy.

"Beauty Will Rise" is another song born of terrible loss, but from the distinctly hopeful point of view of a man soaked in the love and grace of God.  To think that Chapman considered quitting music after his youngest daughter's death, it is clear to see that God touched him and comforted him in this time.

As to the song...  where to start.   The music, I suppose.  The song begins with a plaintive piano riff in 7-4 time, with a slight kick drum behind it.  This intro motif weaves its way in and out of the song, coming and going, finding different instruments to voice itself - first the piano, then we find it in strings.  Coming through the bridge, we again hear it, this time with what sounds like harmonics or chimes in an ascending scale.

The verses are uneven in their length; the second verse is shorter than the first, bringing the release of the chorus faster.  You're waiting for it at that point, because it completely sucker-punched you the first time.

Speaking of the bridge, it lulls you in after the emotional roller-coaster of the verses and choruses, dropping to a simple snare drum beat, then acoustic guitar, then the orchestra coming in.  The bridge is longer than expected, but you don't care.  You know that chorus is coming and you want it to come.  And it does, with the band dropping out and Chapman's voice soaring.  When the band hits full force in the second measure you physically feel it.  Finally, that repeated chorus leads to the tag, and suddenly that same motif from the intro is back, and you feel the resolution.

And the lyrics...  they are gut-wrenching and inspiring at the same time.  The opening lines tug at your heart:

It was the day the world went wrong,
I screamed 'til my voice was gone
and watched through the tears as everything 
came crashing down. 

You feel it.  You completely feel it.  But that chorus...

Out of these ashes beauty will rise  
and we will dance among the ruin.
We will see with our own eyes...

For we know that joy is coming in the morning.
In the morning, beauty will rise. 

Wow.   But the lyric that really gets me is in the second verse.

And if you can't believe, I will believe 
For you. 

How can a man come through that, and write those words, I wonder.

The entire Beauty Will Rise album is as simply amazing as this song.  I'd suggest getting the record, but perhaps not listening to it as you drive your car.  You may have a hard time seeing straight.


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