I first heard the full version of this song when my dear friend asked me to sing it with her in church. To this day I still like her take better than the original. But that's not to say the original is to be sneezed at.
I was listening to it the other day because lately I've been on a Rich Mullins kick and suddenly... well, you know that moment when you're listening to a song you're heard many times before but all of the sudden EVERY SINGLE WORD of it hits you right in the soul? Yeah. Me too. It's what I live for. It's why I ingest copious amounts of music and am always looking for more. I'm always looking for that moment. And that's why I'm in the arts. I want to give that moment to other people. There's just nothing like it.
Rich Mullins was one of those guys who knew how to write a lyric. He's up there with guys like Mark Heard, Terry Scott Taylor, and Michael Roe. These people can paint feelings with words. That's a very rare gift, and we are so lucky that they had the tenacity to hold onto that vision in a world where depth is 'too depressing' and 'not Christian enough.'
Sometimes the night was beautiful
Sometimes the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close
You could touch it but your heart would break
Sometimes the morning came too soon
Sometimes the day could be so hard
There was so much work left to do
But so much You'd already done...
Title: Sometimes By Step
Artist: Rich Mullins
Album: The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume Two
Label: Reunion Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
If you were affiliated with the average evangelical church in the '90s and early 2000s, you probably recognise the chorus. Rich Mullins is primarily known for short repetitive choruses that congregations bludgeon to death, which is a shame because there is so much depth and richness to his poetry. However -- it does create a bridge from the average evangelical to actual creative art if said average evangelical does happen to research the history of it.
Nobody talks about heartbreak in Christianity. Nobody talks about days being hard. And even fewer people contrast that with the work God has done without getting stuck in a thin, cheesy water analogy that they can't seem to get out of (looking at you, Hillsong's Oceans). I'll refrain from the Christian-music-is-fluff rant here. But a lyric like this is real, refreshing, and hopeful. This is everything Christian music should strive to be. Poets and lyricists of the next generation, please take note. The future of songwriting may depend on it.