Musical Musings: Rich Mullins, "Calling Out Your Name"

Calling Out Your Name lyrics by RICH MULLINS
"Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob's stairs
Yeah they danced on Jacob's stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant's wings
And there's fury in a pheasant's wings
It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I've seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever 'til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name"

There’s a beauty out here I haven’t learned to see yet; I’m still captivated by rolling hills and crashing waves and the mountains covered in trees so tall I have to lay down to see the top. But I know that there are people out here who find comfort and unspeakable beauty in the wide open spaces of the prairies and the grasslands that lie just north and west of us. It seems Rich Mullins may have been one of them.

Actually, though, there’s something deeper here, something that has captured my attention, even if the prairies didn’t. I think there’s something to this song, and while I’ve tried several times to express something similar before, I’m never convinced that I quite do it justice.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of an unbroken colt, the people greeted him with cries of Hosanna. I could discuss the beauty of that word, which means at once “Save us” and “Our salvation is here” (if I remember correctly, that is), but that’s not what I want to do just now. The Pharisees, the men who knew the Law, the men who knew scripture, knew that the cry made a Messianic claim of Jesus. The went to him, and commanded him to silence the people. His reply? “I tell you the truth, if they did not cry out, even the stones would.”

I’m doing Beth Moore’s study on Daniel… amazing book. In Daniel 9, we see a prediction of 70 “sevens”, something that many scholars agree is a period of 490 years. According to the prophecy, the clock started its countdown when the proclamation was made to restore Jerusalem. Beth points out that this was around the 5th of March, 444 BC. According to the Jewish Calendar, the first 69 sevens started counting on that day… and end around the 30th of March, 33 AD… the day Jesus, the anointed one, Masiyah, entered Jerusalem on the back of an unbroken cold. This was the fulfillment of ancient, centuries old prophecy. No wonder the stones would proclaim his coming!

This isn’t about eschatology, though. This isn’t about when the last seven begins, or the end of days, or any of that. I want to talk about this idea, that even inanimate earth would proclaim truth if mankind did not. (I’m crying just thinking about it all!)

I think that, if we knew how to listen with spiritual ears, we’d hear all of creation praising God. Not that creation is animate, with a spirit to praise Him with, but that the nature of His creation can do nothing else. Just as the nature of a volcano is to erupt, of a dog to bark, of a mountain to thrust into the sky… I think all of those things point to the immeasurable glory of the God who created them, and our inability to see that, to hear it in their cries, is temporal. I think when we get to the other side of eternity, out of the grasp of linear time, we’ll see things differently.

I have to admit, there is a part of me that longs to hear the cry of the rocks, that longs to watch jaws drop when even creation bends its collective knee, so to speak, and confesses with its collective mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord. And yet, I doubt I ever will; I’ve known too many believers who could never be silent long enough to give the rocks need to proclaim what God Almighty has tattooed on our Spirits.

I may not be able to hear it, and I may not be able to appreciate the beauty with which they do it, but like Rich Mullins, with the prairies, I am calling out His name.

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