“Gather round, ye children, come
Listen to the old, old story
Of the power of death undone
By an infant born of glory …”
I went to see Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with my dad this week (click the link to listen to the songs — the “true tall tale of the coming of Christ”). I’ve wanted to go for several years, and because my dad is a fan since I introduced him to the music, we finally took the plunge.
Monday Night Football was also in town for the night and the city was humming. People everywhere, stadium lights glaring through the night sky, honky tonks on every corner, each with a live band with big dreams. We ate at a barbecue joint that was really good, and it was really nice to just spend some time with my dad, talking about whatever.
Live music in Nashville? The (true) Christmas story? My favorite artist? With my dad? Yes, please.
From the first chord that we could feel reverberating in our seats, the music was incredible. Great musicians were telling a greater story. The theme running under and through and in everything: it’s God’s story, his world, his Son and it’s not over yet, even though the day may seem incredibly dark. A few thoughts:
1. Live music is undeniably better. You could just feel it in the air around you, especially in a historic venue like The Ryman, with music and history and character oozing out of every brick and floorboard.
2. Professional musicians are really, really good, and it’s amazing to watch them at their craft. It was fun to see them enjoying each other’s music as well — they genuinely liked and respected each other and had a grand time together. Most of them could pick up just about any instrument on the stage and play it. Even special guest Steven Curtis Chapman, who has sold more records than all the rest of them put together, was just one of the guys.
4. Their heart for the hurting was evident. For the first half of the show, each member of the group (probably 8 or 10 different artists) got to each play a couple of their own songs while everyone else watched. Because Newtown is still very much on everyone’s mind, almost every one of them chose at least one song dealing with a theme of tragedy or heartache.
It was tremendous to be part of a group working through the hurt that everyone was experiencing at the thought of young kids being gunned down in cold blood. To listen as we thought about how God can bring good out of unimaginable evil and grief and sadness — whether that darkness is in Newtown, CT, or in ancient Israel, where, when God began to speak after 400 silent years, babies were slaughtered to try to silence him again — helped to begin to make some tiny sense of it all. As one of the songs said, “the story’s not over yet.”
5. The second half of the show was the Behold the Lamb of God section, the story of redemption sung straight through from the Old Testament to the New. If you’ve never heard it, here’s the link again. Listen to it and be captivated by a story that, if you didn’t know it were true, you would call unbelievable. This group has been doing this show for 13 years, so they’ve got it down perfectly. The words, the music, the story, the message, the musicians, the instruments, the lights — it all combined to lift our hearts in worship.
At the end, we all sang “O come all ye faithful” a capella (people in Nashville can sing) and then Andrew Peterson read from Colossians 1:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation … He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
It was the perfect passage to close the night. Peace on earth through the blood of the lamb on the cross. Merry Christmas, indeed.