Have you ever had a song hit you in the chest? I mean the kind of movement in the music that actually causes your chest to rise and fall. The first time I (Michael) heard the chorus come in on Gungor’s “Hurricane,” that was my response, and sometimes when I listen to that song, it is still my response. My reaction is not even a reaction to the lyrics, but just to that swell of the horns, synth and bass. Then you add the beautiful words: “I see love rising like a hurricane. Rising like a dead man coming up out of the grave. I feel love rising in my chest again. Rising like a burning sun into the day.” After that, I’m arms-raised, emotions-swelling in response to the powerful picture of love the resurrection represents.
I’m not sure if all of my response is what Michael and Lisa Gungor were hoping for when they wrote “Hurricane,” but I think they would be happy to know their music is moving my heart and mind in the way I just described. Every track on the fantastic second album in Gungor’s ambitious One Wild Life trilogy moves me. You may know Gungor for their Beautiful Things album, but in recent years, Gungor has moved away from congregational worship to…well, being just a great band. With that movement away from CCM comes a focus on great creativity in their sound and more challenging messages in their lyrics. With the One While Life trilogy, they move through three major themes: Soul, Spirit and Body. For a deeper explanation of the concept of the album I encourage you to listen to The Liturgists Podcast on the first album, Soul.
One of the tracks that has had a huge impact on Helen and I from Soul was “Vapor,” which acts as a transition from the album Soul to the album Spirit. Soul was such a great album; it was one of my first iTunes purchases in a while. With that said, Spirit is much better. The songs that make the transition from Soul focus on the magic and wonder of the world around us. This moves into the movement of the Spirit in this world and the mystery that comes with those things in our lives that are not as easily explained as we might like. From there the album works toward Body and the idea of how we live out that which flows from the Soul and Spirit. In this transition comes songs like “Let Bad Religion Die,” with its challenging message around misguided actions that can come from a misinterpretation of the things revealed in Soul and Spirit. The transition does not stay in this critical place, however, as my favourite track, “Hurricane,” finds its home in the album here. To me “Hurricane” is the strongest track on the album, and daily I find myself wrestling with the ideas expressed in the song. In a blog post on Gungor’s website, Lisa Gungor writes of how the song was written after the tragic events in Paris last November. The song grew out of a place of seeing all the pain the world had to offer, but through the lense of a picture Lisa and Michael’s daughter drew, which said, “love is stronger than hate.” The world is in a place of tension between all the hate our brokenness can create, and the Love that is bringing resurrection and restoration. If you want to learn more about the album Spirit, The Liturgists have a podcast where Michael and Lisa talk about the album.
Gungor’s music represents the journey they are on in their faith, a journey with which many will identify. That journey is one of deconstruction and more importantly, reconstruction. I do at times find myself at a distance with some of the language they use, but I appreciate and benefit from the honesty in their work. I hope it might be a blessing to you as well.