Today’s Praise: CD roars as it captures ‘Narnia’ essence
Aslan is on the move — this time, propelled by the mighty Disney marketing machine and the Christian entertainment industry.
The lion Aslan is the focus of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” a Disney flick based on the fantasy novels of C.S. Lewis. When he’s on the move, expectations rise in the world of Narnia, which lies behind the doors of an enchanted wardrobe. Likewise, the Christian entertainment industry is expecting the movie, which will be released Dec. 9, to be a combination of “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Lord of the Rings,” with a little Disney magic thrown in. Publishers are churning out books, video games and all of the paraphernalia that you’d associate with a Disney release.
Great expectations explain why so many top artists were eager to create “Music Inspired By ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’ ” Jars of Clay, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kutless, Jeremy Camp and the David Crowder Band are just a few who contributed their talents to the project.
“I love C.S. Lewis,” worship leader David Crowder said. “Narnia is just such a lovely tale and the movie looks to be something pretty astounding visually and [it’s] extremely exciting to have such a beautiful story told to such a potentially broad audience.”
In the Narnia novels, Lewis tells the story of salvation and explains underlying concepts through images and allegory. The characters struggle with faith — and sometimes allow temptation to overwhelm them.
Chapman said that although he had read many of Lewis’ works on Christian belief, he had never read the Narnia books before he was approached about the project. Upon reading the novels, he was impressed by “seeing how brilliantly C.S. Lewis was able to tell the greatest story ever told, the coming of God’s savior to the world. And to see how incredibly creative [he was]. … Anyone, even a child, can grasp the elements of the story.”
Like the book, the songs offer indirect views of the underlying message.
For example, singer Rebecca St. James said her song, “Lion,” is about Aslan “and how awesome were his characteristics, especially in relation to Jesus.”
The pop-oriented track opens with a curious and tentative feeling but builds in intensity as familiarity with Aslan grows. It ends in joy.
“I really pulled from Lucy’s perspective of Aslan,” St. James said, referring to the young girl who expressed faith that Aslan was good.
The opening track, “Waiting For The World To Fall,” is vintage rock by Jars of Clay. It’s a very appealing take on anticipating a major change in life.
That’s followed by Chapman’s contribution, the joyful pop tune “Remembering You,” which recalls the change that happened after conversion.
That song also has been turned into a music video, which contains set pieces and clips from the film. Since the advance of evil is symbolized by cold and snow in the books, the video was shot using potato flakes to capture the feel.
“We made it snow in California, which is fun,” Chapman said, adding, “If it got in your eye it didn’t feel quite like snow.”
One of the most intriguing tracks is the David Crowder Band’s “Turkish Delight.” In “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Turkish delight is the delicious treat the witch uses to tempt one of the children. Temptation is usually portrayed as dark and sinister but, in this song, it’s presented as truly tempting — bubbly and fun.
“I figured if we were going to be discussing temptation, or indulgence, why not pick the most indulgent of genres or eras we’ve experienced: disco, baby! So the music reflects the indulgent carefree actions of the character,” Crowder said.
The rest of the disc ranges from tobyMac’s edgy rap-rock “New World” to Nicole Nordeman’s heartfelt pop ballad “I Will Believe,” both of which offer good introductions to the land of Narnia and the characters.
The disc is generally pop and rock, which was a wise decision. A similar disc linked to “The Passion of The Christ” covered so many genres that the overall result was chaotic and a bit unpleasant. However, this disc is focused and refined.
Those who love the Narnia story — and like pop and rock — will love the disc. However, the disc stands quite well on its own and is likely to encourage new fans to open the door to that old wardrobe.
On the Web:www.narnia.com.
Today's Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears on the Religion page.