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Rich Mullins Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth (1988)

by Jeff Miller

Style: CCM
Release date: 1988
Format: LP, CD, Cassette
Tracks: 10
Label: Reunion Records

1. The Other Side of the World
2. With the Wonder
3. Awesome God
4. If I Stand
5. Home
6. Such a Thing as Glory
7. ...And I Love You
8. Ready For the Storm
9. One True Love
10. How Can I Keep Myself From Singing

It was 1988, and although Rich Mullins had released two albums and had gone on tour with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, no one had really heard of him until, that is, a certain song hit the airwaves. That song, of course, was “Awesome God.”

With its dramatic stringed intro to its worshipful chorus, “Awesome God” became a favorite among many regardless of their age. It became a radio anthem, yet perfect for a 1980s Sunday morning worship service. Youth loved it and their parents did too. It invokes a listener to instantaniously worship when it’s heard still to this day. It’s among the few songs of that time period that not only still seems new, but is also still sung in churches and recreated by other artists.

While most of us talk about this album as if it was intended to be wrapped around that song, it’s easy to tell that it wasn’t Rich’s intent. The album is a whole unto itself. Each song is perfectly crafted and thoughtfully inspired. In typical Rich Mullins style, Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth is more like a poetic anthology. I suppose that’s technically what an album is, but with Rich’s material––and this project in particular––each song stands on its own and is more a collection of works rather than just another good album.

Even “Awesome God’s” following track, “If I Stand,” is a worshipful song as well, and a fan favorite to this day.

Perhaps one of the most powerful songs on this album (and hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserved) is the Side 2 opener, “Such a Thing as Glory.” While musically, it isn’t as powerful as “Awesome God” or as catchy and fun as the Side 1 openers, “The Other Side of the World” and the bouncy “With the Wonder,” it is lyrically powerful. Those who have known and felt God’s glory have a hard time trying to put it to words, and it seems Rich was trying his best to do just that.

Now Jesus lives in glory
And Jesus reigns as Heaven’s King
And the love of God is pouring out
On the earth the sky and sea
We who’ve come beneath His mercies
Will be compelled to sing
There is such a thing as glory

This was, for many of us, our introduction to Rich Mullins and his brilliance. Though we young rockers may not have wanted to admit it, we found ourselves drawn to Rich’s soft music and powerful lyrics, and had it been anyone else, we would have quickly passed on their music. But it was that certain “thing of Glory” that resonated through Rich’s music that drew us, and more than 25 years after his passing, still does.

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