Matthew Clark recently performed a release show at Christ Church for his new album Bright Came the Word from His Mouth. The songs are inspired by recent Christ College speaker Sandra Richter‘s book The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament, which centers on the biblical theme of God bringing his wayward family back home to himself.
A true concept album, Bright Came the Word from His Mouth recounts the story of God from beginning to end, from the first Eden to the renewed Eden. And it pays particular attention to the covenants as those most gracious promises of God which are found magnificent in their fulfillment.
It may sound grandiose, but we should recognize Bright Came the Word from His Mouth as one of the most significant works of our time that narrates the grand story of God and his goodness to his creation. Christ Church is privileged to share in Matthew’s work and journey. Please see Matthew’s remarks below in my interview with him regarding how you can support him as he shares his contribution to God’s kingdom.
NB: Matthew, how did this project begin?
MC: I had read Sandra’s book several years ago and was so encouraged by it. During the Spring of 2012 I was writing some songs and decided to send them to several ‘mentors’ for feedback. I sent a few to Sandra. Long story short, Sandra invited me to have tea in her home and visit. She was so hospitable and in the end asked if I’d like to write some new songs for the “Epic of Eden” curriculum Asbury Seedbed was producing.
NB: The lyrics are so brilliant and vivid that they would be enjoyable to simply read as poetry, but the music certainly tells the story, as well. What was the writing process like for you?
MC: I spent July and August writing the first half of the album, working and re-working those songs. I’d make little demos and dropbox them to Sandra. Once I got in touch with Mitch Dane in Nashville he offered a time slot for recording just a few weeks away in September. So I had to finished the songs quickly! I checked into a local retreat center, bought some groceries and locked myself in for three days. I tried to be mindful of the storytelling connection between the content (lyrics) of the songs and their form (music and structure). The majority of the album was written in that very focused time in solitude.
MC: I’m a Tolkien and Lewis dork and I’ve always been fascinated with words. Especially God’s use of language in the creation. “Let there be light, and there was light” and so on. I was thinking about that in connection to one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, John 1, where the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. God opens his mouth creating, re-creating, sending light, making alive, and ultimately the result is that we have “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
NB: What has been the greatest experience you’ve had as you’ve produced Bright Came the Word from His Mouth and are now performing it and sharing it? How has it changed you?
MC: I was pretty intimidated by the offer to write these songs! I felt like God was challenging me both creatively and as a person. Challenging me to work hard to make something good and take the risks necessary – to take my own part in the Story seriously as one responsible to inhabit it and communicate it. Also I saw this as a challenge to give away some of the aspects of the project and collaborate more deeply. So I played the songs for people and asked for lots of feedback, took them to Nashville to a producer, worked with lots of talented musicians who added so much beauty to these songs. And of course, the joy of working with Sandra’s presentation of the Scripture’s Story was a different approach to writing and good exercise for me.
NB: The album case may be the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Tell us about the art.
MC: I love handmade art. My mother and brother are both artists and I grew up around it. So when it came to the artwork I spent a day scouring Etsy.com and ended up finding Eugene Frost’s work. I thought he was in St. Petersburg, Florida when I read his page. Turns out he is Russian! He was wonderful to work with and immensely creative. He has an incredible ability to translate complex ideas visually in a way that’s neither too vague nor to obvious. His visual storytelling has inspired me deeply.
MC: I take donations in the form of delicious casseroles, whole bean coffee, and personal visits. Besides that, folks can buy cds, host concerts, or even simply donate money via paypal from my website.
NB: What’s next for the album?
MC: Well, I’ve got to print more copies thankfully! The songs will eventually be attached to the “Epic of Eden” DVD curriculum Asbury Seedbed is creating. I’m not exactly sure when that will be completed, maybe sometime early Fall? And I’m focusing on traveling to share the songs live with anyone who is interested in hosting a concert. My hope is that these songs can be a resource for believers to remember the Gospel and for others to learn its tune. I hope the album can bear fruit.
Buy your copy of Bright Came the Word from His Mouth by visiting Matthew’s website here. There you can also donate for additional support.
The release show in Seabrook Hall was a great success, with special thanks to Matthew and his band and the technical team of Christ Church. If you missed it, the entire show is available on YouTube.