500 Words or Less Reviews: Andrew Peterson, Music, and Light at the Ryman

For the second year in a row, my wife and I went to see Andrew Peterson and his amazing group of friends at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee. Seeing Peterson perform “Behold the Lamb of God” is a Christmas tradition for us now.

For those unfamiliar with Andrew Peterson and his Christmas show

Here are a few basics: Every year, Andrew Peterson presents his “Behold the Lamb of God” tour. Every year, he invites old friends and new to perform with him. Every year, the lineup is a bit different, with new special guests and quite a few reoccurring players.

“Behold the Lamb of God” is Peterson’s Christmas album, first released over ten years ago. It’s a concept album, working through the entire record of Scripture to tell the story of redemption. It’s ambitious and beautiful. I highly recommend it if you can find a copy.

The show is divided in “half.” I use the word “half” loosely as the first half is a good deal longer than the second. The first half is Andrew and his guests performing some of their own material. So each year, the first half will look and sound different from every other year. No matter. It’s great music masterfully played and sung by immensely talented singers and songwriters. The second half is when Andrew and his friends perform the entirety of the “Behold the Lamb of God” album–no breaks, no talking, no interruptions–from beginning to end. It is amazing.

For those familiar with Andrew Peterson and his Christmas show

You know. You know what it’s like. How it feels. The sights and sounds, the light and peace, the mystery and the passion. If you have been fortunate enough to experience the show for yourself, you know.

It’s much more than a concert. It’s a profound and powerful time of worship. The gifted artists, with Peterson at the helm, guide us through God’s grand story of salvation. With words and melody, they walk us through the Gospel story. My meager words cannot do it justice. In fact, I am too far gone to really give you any objectivity.

I love the first half of the show. Both years it has included amazing artists doing what they do best.

And I love the second half, hearing the biblical narrative of grace interwoven in the Old and New Testaments. But from the moment “Labor of Love” is played, until the final “amen” is sung by the audience, I am a mess. I lack the words and the skill to say why exactly. My best guess is that the words and music and truth speak so clearly in those final songs. They speak directly to my heart, mind, and soul. I fear building it up too much, but I don’t think I could oversell it if I tried.

Whatever you do, if nothing prevents you, go to this show at least once in your life. You will be better for it.

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

5 thoughts on “500 Words or Less Reviews: Andrew Peterson, Music, and Light at the Ryman

  • December 12, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    This needs to be on my Bucket List. I know very few things that have such universal approval as this show.

  • December 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    The first time I went to the show was in Deerfield, IL at Trinity University. A friend invited, but warned us, “This isn’t a typical concert.” I remember hearing Andrew say at the beginning of the second half, “If everyone could hold any applause for the end, we’d appreciate it. This is a story we love to share through music.”

    I was assaulted by the show. I’m not being poetic. It’s the only phrase I can use to explain how blindsided I was by the idea of tracking Christ’s birth from the Passover to the Manger. After the Reprise, I simply stood and applauded our King for planning such a gift. It was a magical moment I’ll never forget.

  • December 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Josh. I’ve been to many concerts in my life and this one is just different. It’s not about entertaining the crowd – though there are entertaining elements. It’s not about impressing the crowd – though there are impressive elements. There is a sacred solemnity to this show. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • December 13, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Josh and I joke about going back in time to warn each other about each other as in The Office with Jim and Dwight. But if I could go back in time I’d tell 2003 Gowdy to go to this show. I still haven’t been. It won’t come by me this time around but next year even if I have to go to Nashville I will be going to this show. Phill and Josh are more into music than I am but you don’t have to be a music person to appreciate the worship and lyrics and atmosphere I’m sure.

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