Posted by: Billy Marsh | August 22, 2007

The Far Country: An Album About A Better Country

The Far Country - Andrew Peterson

Well, we come to it at last, the last great record of our time. Hmm, probably not, but it is a great record of our time without a doubt.  Andrew Peterson’s best album to date, The Far Country, has left an indelible mark upon my Christian walk. I’ve resisted the temptation to review this CD in the past because I wanted to post it in conjunction with the final entries of my Sojourner series. So, what better time to give you a quick endoresment and overview of this album than now since I just posted a brief look at Hebrews 11:16a on the “better country”?

I remember when I first bought this album. I was at Mardel Christian bookstore shopping for some youth ministry resources when I took a quick look at the music department. I was already familiar with Peterson, but hadn’t been keeping up with his newer music projects. Immediately, the artwork caught my attention. Next, the title locked me into position. Having a very personal affinity for Hebrews 11 and living in light of “a better country”, needless to say, I was totally dumbfounded when I looked further at the cover and read a promotional sticker which quoted Peterson stating that he had written the entire record specifically around Heb 11:13-16.

This album is a little bit more electric than Peterson’s past folk efforts. It’s a good thing though. Peterson is a natural musician and makes all of his musical decisions come across as very natural. Some reviewers have critiqued The Far Country on the basis that it deals too much with death and dying. However, obviously they didn’t read any of the liner notes in which Peterson includes the full Scripture text of Hebrews 11:13-16. Only one good listen to the CD is sufficient for understanding that he is trying to communicate to his hearers what he has learned about living “between two worlds”. Lyrically, Peterson attempts to teach his fans how to live on earth as citizens in heaven.

Peterson’s idea for this concept album was primarily initiated by a quote from Meister Echart who said, “God is at home, we are in the far country.” Hence, the record’s title and title song. Fortunately, Peterson and other theologians have not been the only ones affected by this train of thought. Fiction writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien incorporated their own personal views of heaven, the nature of the afterlife, and how to live out the Christian life longing for the city that is to come into two of the greatest literary masterpieces the world has ever seen, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. Peterson just so happens to be a huge fantasy fan alongwith having a major love for fiction, so for those of you familiar with these works, you will find many allusions, quotes, and entire song(s) devoted to the imagery put forth in Lewis’ and Tolkien’s writings.

I love concept albums. I know that when I put them into the CD player I can expect to learn and grow. Each song is like an individual chapter, and each record funtions as a complete book. Yes, even the ordering of the songs contributes to your listening pleasure and experience (that’s for my canonical approach brethern). From start to finish, Peterson deals with the theology of heaven, living as sojourners on earth, leaving behind his family at death, mourning, forgiveness of sins, the restoration of creation, and doing everything for the glory of God. Walking away from this album, it is easy to see that Peterson agrees with the Apostle Paul when he proclaims, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1:21).”

I will make this review much shorter than some of my others because I will end up writing way too much, and probably, I already have. I will put a few songs in my music player on the sidebar for you to sample. If you want to listen to the whole album, Peterson has made it available from beginning to end in its full length. Just click here. Please go buy it and let the Lord bless you with a man he has gifted to write meaningful, edifying music for the Church as well as someone who is gifted incredibly in the art of songwriting, musically and lyrically.

Tid-Bits:

  • Best Acoustic Guitar Song: The Queen of Iowa
  • Shortest Song: More
  • Lord Of The Rings Song: The Havens Grey
  • Most Piano Driven Song: The Far Country
  • Song That Makes Me Tear Up: Mountains on the Ocean Floor
  • Song Most About Dying: Lay Me Down
  • Song That Caedmon’s Call Covered: Mystery of Mercy
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: