Music Review: Various Artists, "Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia"
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 15, 2005
Nichole Nordeman accurately sums up the personality traits of C.S. Lewis's Narnian adventurers, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, in the opening verse of her song, I Will Believe, one of almost a dozen contemporary Christian songs put together on this album to celebrate the release to the silver screen of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Featuring a veritable who's who of today's Christian artists, this collection of songs ranges from introspective melodies to power ballads, from pop to rock.
One of us is big and brave / And one of us is tenderhearted
One of us is tempting fate
And the last but not the least of us
Has faith enough for each of us
Some of the songs tie directly to the movie, while others rely more on building upon the same Christian themes of Lewis's novels. The album opens with Jars of Clay, whose "Waiting for the World to Fall" falls somewhere in between these types, as does steven Curtis Chapman's followup, both speaking of winters and new worlds. Bethany Dillon's Hero and Rebecca St. James's Lion are straight-on contemporary Christian melodies, which nonetheless still reflect the themes from the first book of C.S. Lewis's seven chronicles, particularly that of the embodiment of Jesus Christ in the character of Aslan the Lion.
When we reach New World, performed by TobyMac with a decidedly 80's hair band flavor, the songs begin to become more literally inspired by the events of the story, although still retaining the message, starting with Lucy's telling of her discovery of Narnia...
...and wrapping up with self-sacrifice of Aslan in words that could just as adequately and easily describe the crucifixion of Christ.
No one believed her / No one imagined it was true
No one could see her winter haven coming into view
She says she's seen the land beyond / She says she's walked her Babylon
She felt the cold beneath her feet / And time stood still where the winter won't sleep
I've seen a new world...like nothing before...Just step through the door right
Into a new world... into Narnia
Of course, the first story of the epic chronicles is truely set into motion when greedy brother Edmund is tempted by the White Witch with the offering of his favorite thing, no matter what it might be. Edmund is trapped by his weakness for a dessert, but the message, as pounded out by the David Crowder Band in this R&B mover, is that it's not spiritually healthy to have such a strong attraction to something earthly, even something so innocuous as Turkish Delight:
"The more I have, the more I want," the song warns in it's wrap-up refrain, and anyone who remembers the story will recall the almost addictive behavior Edmund demonstrates, resulting in his betrayal of his family and of Aslan.
Stumbled through the doorway / Into the strangest thing
An unexpected magic land / With snow beneath my feet
Came across a lady who / Dressed herself in white
She took her coat to cover me / Then a query cold as ice
What do you want?
Turkish delight / (It's my favorite thing) It's my favorite thing
Turkish delight / (All I want to do) What I wouldn't do, what I wouldn't do
It's possible, I assume, that there are those who were not aware of the parallels that C.S. Lewis was drawing to Christianity in his stories -- just as there may be many unaware of those same parallels that J.R.R. Tolkein presented in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. If so, this album might serve as a catalyst for deeper reading of the novels, delving beyond the superficial tale of four children who find themselves in a fantasy land and into a whole new meaning of grace, forgiveness, and the mercy and necessity of Christ's sacrifice. Given the building popularity behind this Disney / Walden release, one can hope that the message will receive an even wider audience, both through the film and through the music inspired by it.
This enhanced CD also includes a video web interface to explore the various media Narnia is being presented in. It also features a video advertisement (1:45) for the upcoming videogame based upon the film, and a featurette (6:22) wherein the various artists on the album talk up the different aspects the approached their work from -- whether seeing Aslan through Lucy's eyes as Rebecca St. James explains her song, to seeing redemption and resurrection in the change from winter to spring as explained by Steven Curtis Chapman.
01. Waiting for the World to Fall - Jars of Clay
02. Remembering You - Steven Curtis Chapman
03. Open Up Your Eyes - Jeremy Camp
04. Hero - Bethany Dillon
05. Stronger - Delirious?
06. Lion - Rebecca St. James
07. New World - TobyMac
08. I Will Believe - Nichole Nordeman
09. Turkish Delight - David Crowder Band
10. More Than It Seems - Kutless
11. You're the One - Chris Tomlin