This week’s selection is First Love by Petra. There was a time in my young Christianity where I struggled to find the music of my choice among only a handful of Christian artists: Twila Paris, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Maranatha Praise, Vineyard Music, and Integrity Music. Though these selections whetted my appetite some it did nothing to soothe over the young heart that desired some hard rock. At that time so young growing up I thought Christian Music was equivalent to praise music; it seemed that way given that I only heard Christian music at church or in Korean when my parents would listen. Thus my platform into the entry of a whole other realm of musical genre began to take shape. And it all started with a band with such hardcore driving music that I instantly fell in love: Petra.
During the 80’s Petra was among a few Christian artists that had cross-over appeal – meaning they appealed to both Christians and non-Christians. Their style of music was equivalent to one of the most popular music genres of the 80’s: “hair metal.” There was all these bands that played hard rock with driving electric guitars and hair-raising drum sounds with the longest hair a guy could own. Some bands we have come to know in our modern day: Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi, and Journey. Then there were the classic hair metal bands like Aerosmith, KISS, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, and Quiet Riot. From this amalgam of assorted noise as some would call it, the Christian world welcomed, Petra. They were the antithesis to all the hair metal bands that were out there. And they were the best that Christian music had to offer: being nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and winning 4.
But in order to sustain and do this for over three decades, starting in 1972, they had to not only sound great but also the lyrics must be impactful. The song I chose became the anthem of my life which I sustain to listen every now again because of the words that just melt my heart. It is considered a ‘love ballad’ to our Savior and speaks of our current drive of being lost the wilderness of our own passions and other’s passion for us that we lose sight and forget that all we derive our passions and desires from is our Creator & our Savior Lord, Jesus Christ. What is more, is the end refrain:
‘If I ever lack endurance, I remember your assurance that your holy banner over me is love.
If my heart begins to waver, woo me back my loving Savior, woo me back till I return to my first love.’ These guys are not some superficial hard rock guitar-playing, long-haired, wannabes; they had real depth because the love of their instrumentality was undergirded by a deep longing and loving our Savior. And their passion showed in their lyrics.
I hope we do not lose sight of the Creator that gave us everything that we can derive into our world under heaven. But when we fail as often we do and as clumsy as we do it, He shall always fulfill His promise to us: to woo us back into His loving arms and His loving embrace. Let us remember this assurance, brothers & sisters!