By Valerie Fentress, Crosswalk.com
Steven Curtis Chapman established himself as a leader in Contemporary Christian Music in the late 1980s and continues to fill our ears with God’s truth through his music. His career has included winning five Grammy Awards and 59 Dove Awards (more than any other artist to date).
I trusted Christ as my Savior in the early 90s and many of Chapman’s songs became the soundtrack of my growing faith in the Lord. Over the last thirty years, his music has taken us both to the height of joy in the Lord and the depths of sorrow. But just as David walked the highs and lows of faith in many of the Psalms, Chapman points back to the love and sovereignty of God.
Here are some of his greatest songs.
1. Dive (1999)
This was almost a theme song for my Christian friends and me as we graduated high school. It was a powerful anthem of upbeat music that inspired us to live a life to honor God. For me, it’s not only one of my favorite Chapman songs, but also one of those songs that act as a time machine for my mind and heart. “Dive” also won the Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year at the 31st GMA Dove Awards.
2. With Hope (1999)
This song is a great reminder of our hope in the Lord when we are grieving or in a season of loss. We may never know the reason why certain things happen in our lives, but this song is a great reminder of the One who has all the answers.
3. Bring it On (2000)
In a Crosswalk interview, Chapman says this about the impact of this song:
“I’ve really questioned the wisdom in even writing that song now, because basically, the song says, if these are the things that will draw me closer to you and these are the things that will make me weak so I’ll know that You’re strong, then bring it on, let it happen. And I was working on that song in my car when my mom called to tell me that she had cancer. I just started crying, and I said, “God, I don’t know if I have the courage to just sing this song.” Am I just being stupid to even say this, “bring it on”? So, there’s a lot about the record that I feel like God has given me, and I’ve said this before, but I really feel like I’ve just kinda got a front row seat on this. This is not MY record; these are not my songs. I feel like God is just allowing me to be the instrument that He’s communicated this stuff through and it’s got my experience woven into it, it’s got my frailties and my stupid moments and all that woven through it. (It’s) more of a record of confession than anything I’ve ever written before.”
4. Remembering You (2005)
Released in 2005, this song was the first single from the album Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). The album included many songs recorded by Contemporary Christian Music articles to promote the film to Christian audiences. A pop song with Celtic and folk influences, and a prominent string section, “Remembering You” is written from the perspective of the characters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the end of the story. Like many others on the albulm, the song invites you deeper into the world of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Our family often listens to this song and album when we read through the Narnia series as a family.
5. Cinderella (2007)
In a YouTube spot, Chapman explains that he wrote this song one night after bathing his two youngest daughters and putting them to bed. He remembers the girls trying to stall him by putting on their Cinderella gowns and asking him to read a story, while he was trying to hurry them so he could go to his studio to work. As he walked out of their bedroom, he felt God bring up the name “Emily Chapman,” his eldest daughter then in her twenties. Steven remembered rushing through some moments in Emily’s childhood, and realized he had a chance to avoid that choice with his younger daughters. He started writing “Cinderella” to remind himself to cherish his moments with his family, no matter how brief.
6. Beauty Will Rise (2009)
Written in the wake of his daughter Maria Sue’s death in 2005, Chapman makes no qualms about the fact that the song and others on its album are about his daughter. “Beauty Will Rise” finds Chapman in sacklock and ashes, going through the valley of the shadow of death after more than 20 years of mountaintop experiences as Contemporary Christian Music’s golden child. At the same time, the song’s title and first line reference the hope that he’ll see his daughter again in the kingdom come.
No one wants to experience the death of a child, but since 2004, we have watched Chapman truly wrestle with the everyman’s struggles of faith. Through each of his songs, we’ve not only felt connected to this artist and thankful for his firm grip on his faith. Beauty will Rise is an amazing reminder that God is still working. In the hard and pain, beauty will rise and His glory will reign.
7. Long Way Home (2011)
In an interview with Deborah Evans Price of The Boot, Chapman described “Long Way Home” as “God just letting me sort of smile with music again.” Chapman added, “There was such a heaviness [following Maria Sue’s death] that music became so deep and so heavy. Then I discovered ukulele and it was like God saying, ‘Here play this for a little while and I want you to smile a little bit again with music. I want it to be fun.’ You can’t frown and play a ukulele. There’s just no way. It just makes you smile.”
This upbeat song makes me want to smile and dance, which is a reminder of what we have to look forward to when we get home to heaven.
8. The Glorious Unfolding (2013)
In an article by Lori Hatcher, Chapman says this about the album The Glorious Unfolding: “‘losing Maria ‘didn’t change what I knew to be true... It just took it to a much greater depth of certainty and confidence.’ Before [Chapman] explains, when he’d stand in front of a crowd and share his faith, he wondered if his words had credibility. ‘Now,’ he says, ‘I understand far more deeply what it means to say, “God is faithful.” To be able to say, “We have this hope, and it is our anchor.” It’s one thing to say that in a real stiff breeze... It’s another thing to say it when a hurricane hits.’”
9. Heaven is the Face (2009)
As Chapman mentions in a GodTube Video, “Heaven Is the Face” is birthed from the wrestling of his heart between what Revelations tells us what heaven will be and his own desires to see his little girl Maria Sue’s face in heaven one day. The song’s lyrics vividly express the tension between what our hearts long for and the glory that is to come in eternity.
10. Don’t Lose Hope (2022)
This is Chapman’s latest single. It is an anthem of encouragement. On his website, he says, “There’s no way I’d be where I am on this journey without the people God has put around me who have cheered me on, encouraged me in the dark valleys and reminded me that I’m not alone. We desperately need each other on this journey, now more than ever, and I hope this song will be an anthem of hope and encouragement that we can sing to each other and help each other remember that God is with us and we are gonna make it home… together!”
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Steven Curtis Chapman
1. His debut album, First Hand, was released in 1987.
2. Many artists have recorded Chapman’s songs, including Sandi Patty, Billy Dean, Glen Campbell, the Cathedral Quartet, and Roger Whittaker.
3. Chapman and his wife have three biological children and three adopted daughters from China. Both Chapman and his wife continue to be advocates of adoption
4. He is also an author, whose books (see list below) included include children’s books, two inspirational Christian books written with minister Scotty Smith, and a retold fairytale.
5. After high school, Chapman’s first career goal was becoming a doctor.
6. In 2011, Chapman became a Doctor of Music when he was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from Anderson University.
7. In 2003, Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth Chapman, founded Show Hope, a faith-based nonprofit organization based in Franklin, Tennessee. Show Hope engages the church to reduce barriers to adoption.
8. In 2009, Show Hope finished building Maria’s Big House of Hope, a medical care center in China giving holistic care to orphans with special needs. Maria’s Big House of Hope is also dedicated to the memory of Maria Sue.
9. Chapman is the voice of Baloo in the video game The Jungle Book Groove Party and recently reprised his role as Baloo in the 2022 movie Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers.
10. One of his first jobs in Nashville was at Opryland USA
Great Books by Steven Curtis Chapman
1. Shaoey and Dot: Bug Meets Bundle (2004) with Mary Beth Chapman
2. Shaoey and Dot: The Christmas Miracle (2005) with Mary Beth Chapman
3. Shaoey and Dot: A Thunder and Lightning Bug Story (2006) with Mary Beth Chapman
4. You Were Always in My Heart: A Shaoey & Dot Adoption Story (2013) with Mary Beth Chapman
6. Speechless (1999) with Scotty Smith
7. Restoring Broken Things (2005) with Scotty Smith
8. Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story (2017) with Ken Abraham
You may also enjoy Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope (2010) by Mary Beth Chapman
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Jason Kempin/Staff
Valerie Fentress is the author of An Easter Bunny’s Tale and Beneath the Hood: a retelling woven with biblical truth. She aims to engage believers, especially kids, in the wonder and identity of who God is and who God made them to be.
You can find out more about Valerie, her books, and her blog at www.valeriefentress.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.