MR: “Music From Across the Divide”

A new issue of The Mormon Review is available, with a review of the music of Sara Groves by Troy Keller. The article is available at:

Troy Keller, “Music From Across the Divide,” The Mormon Review, vol.1 no. 7 [HTML] [PDF]

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4 comments for “MR: “Music From Across the Divide”

  1. Interesting review. It’s highly unlikely I would have listened to her music absent a review like this.

    I’m still not 100% sold, but she does have some catchy tunes, and a pretty voice. I’ll have to think about the discussion of lyrics and theology.

    Some youtubes of her stuff:

    Less like scars:
    When the Saints: (youtube video someone made, not official, I didn’t see an official one on youtube)

  2. I am not familiar with the particular artist reviewed, but to the extent the review speaks to this performer as exemplary of a genre, here are my thoughts:

    A few years ago I was waiting for my plane in the San Antonio airport and saw a rock band performing (it was a couple of weeks before Christmas) that was made up of people from a local church. They were pretty decent performers, and I found myself joining in on some of the choruses (invited and not), because the lyrics were essentially paraphrases of the Bible and in no way problematic for a Mormon.

    I have since spent hours on road trips listening to contemporary Christian music on satellite radio, and finding nothing that I would feel I needed to caution my grandchildren about doctrinally. Songs need to use images that are vivid and easily understood, and most of those in Christian pop music come out of scripture and not from the Nicene Creed. Indeed, I am not sure how anyone could create a soulful ballad out of the self-contradictions of trinitarian statements and the alienating, God-doesn’t-really-feel-your-pain assertions of the creeds.

    For that matter, I would propose that half of the time that Catholic and Protestant ministers talk about the creedal concept of God is to condemn non-creedal Mormons, while most of their parishioners don’t really understand the creedal statements and generally confuse them with classic heresies like modalism (God has multiple personalities) or docetism (Jesus didn’t really suffer in the flesh).

    Indeed, expressing an emotional relationship to God requires a lyricist to go to the Bible, and avoid the creeds. At the level of our emotional lives as believers in Christ, Mormons and other Christians are not that different. So the intersection between religiously themed music Mormons like and other Christians like is most of both traditions. It is true for classical pieces like The Messiah, so why not for pop music?

  3. Sara Groves is one of my favorite contemporary Christian music artists. I agree with Troy that her lyrics and music are authentic, thoughtful and moving. (Two other CCM artists whose lyrics and music are, in my opinion, in a similar category are Chris Rice and Andrew Peterson.) My favorite Sara Groves number (and I played it once when teaching a high priests group lesson on prayer) is Hello Lord

    Hello Lord, it’s me your child
    I have a few things on my mind
    Right now I’m faced with big decisions
    And I’m wondering if you have a minute, cuz
    Right now I don’t hear so well
    And I was wondering if you could speak up

    I know that you tore the veil
    So I could sit with you in person
    And hear what you’re saying but
    Right now, I just can’t hear you.

    I don’t doubt your sovereignty
    I doubt my own ability to
    Hear what you’re saying
    And to do the right thing
    And I desperately want to do the right thing
    But right now I don’t hear so well
    And I was wondering if you could speak up

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