More specifically, who are the prophetic vocal-musical artists among us? Who is the person who speaks the Word to us through music? Who challenges our assumptions? Who questions our practices? Who calls us to repentance?
For the purposes of this conversation, let’s limit our search to the Contemporary Christian Music scene. If a prophet is one who speaks the Word of God and a musical artist is one who sings the Word of God, then the grandfather of prophets is surely Michael Card (b. 1957). He has made his mark, not only as one who plays a right-handed strung guitar left-handedly, but as one who sings the Scriptures. But surely there are others?
Some years ago, I was introduced to Derek Webb. While discussing biblical images for the church I was directed to Webb’s album She Must and Shall Go Free where I discovered several prophetic songs, like “Wedding Dress.”
More recently, I came across an article on Webb by Liz Riggs in the November/December 2013 issue of Relevant magazine. She affirmed the prophetic quality of Webb’s work with these words:
With multiple GMA Dove Awards and eight solo albums under his belt (the latest, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You, released in September), it’s impressive how little Webb seems to have aged throughout his 20 years in the industry. It’s easy to look at him and see the twenty something troubadour writing coffee shop hits with Caedmon’s Call (which he left 10 years ago to pursue a solo career). Despite his imprint on the Christian scene, Webb has been a famously contentious figure because of his fierce commitment to expressing his beliefs through provocative lyrics and proclamations on sensitive issues.
Rigg’s article prompted the question “Who are the prophets among us?” While the Contemporary Christian Music scene is dominated by “Praise and Worship,” surely there must be other artists who have been called by God as prophets? I am not referring to an artist for whom one out of ten or twelve songs may be described as prophetic, but those whose ministry may be described as such. Who are the vocal artists who sing God’s Word to us in a way that challenges, teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in the ways of righteousness and justice?