Singer/Songwriter and CTK Alumnae Caroline Cobb has recently released a new album, A Home and a Hunger. We asked her a little bit about the album, as well as her memories of her time in Cambridge at CTK.
How did you choose the stories you chose? Were they already special to you, or did they seem to fit together well?
I would probably say both! After the last album, The Blood + the Breath came out in 2013, my only plan was to continue to write more songs that told the stories of scripture. I had discovered in the process of writing for the last album that I loved doing this: digging into the richness of a Bible story, and trying to retell it using all of the tools in a songwriter’s belt.
In the four years of writing for this new album, we had our third child, made two big, cross-country transitions and experienced suffering up close with friends and family. God used these transitions and my everyday context of being a mom to reveal my sin and remind me of my need for the gospel. Songs like “The Two Lost Sons” and “There is a Mountain” and “Only the Sick Need a Physician” were written from a place of re-discovering the sweetness of the gospel and God’s “upside-down” kingdom for sinners like me.
Like many of us, I’ve also seen a lot of suffering in our world, and in the lives right around us. For example, Nick’s father was diagnosed and eventually passed away because of ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease). On the surface, this is a totally hopeless disease because there is no cure and no way to fight it. Even still, God’s promise to restore and redeem gives us great hope, even in the face of seemingly hopeless things. The theme of kingdom hope, even in the midst of heartache and suffering, comes across in songs like “Fullness of Joy,” “All is Vanity,” “Behold, Behold” and many others.
As I wrote over these last four years, I saw these specific themes - of the “upside down” gospel, of the tension of ache and kingdom hope - really begin to emerge, and I began to imagine a story-arc/concept album centering on those themes. Although the songs are not explicitly about my experiences, they are definitely coming from a personal place.
How long was the process of writing this album, and what did you learn in the process? It depends on how you look at it! Technically, some of the songs have been in the works since 2011, but just didn’t fit the theme of the last album. I have learned so much in the process of working on this album. One that sticks out to me is that God doesn’t necessarily want us to aim for epic or making a big splash, but to aim for faithfulness. I am not a big deal, but in this cultural climate, it would be easy for me to think that I need to try to be in order to be effective for him. But, if you look at scripture, it’s simply not true. God honors and uses the poor in spirit, the meek, the ones faithful in the small and unseen things, the ones unconcerned with how they are perceived, the ones clinging to the cross.
Is there anything you would like people to know as they listen to your album?
Like the last album, a Home & a Hunger is meant to be taken as a whole, as a journey through scripture, with each song parachuting into a different biblical scene. It begins with the first “hunger pangs” of the Fall in Genesis 3, with a song called “Eve’s Lament” that is written from her perspective and has a lot of serpent imagery. The album drops into stories of homecoming like the crossing of the Red Sea into the Promised Land, God making His home with us through Jesus, and the prodigal son returning to his father. Finally, it ends with a song from Revelation 21-22 when God will make His home with us forever. Along the way, there are also songs that acknowledge the mix of ache and joy we feel while we wait for the end of the Story.
The hope for the album is that listeners would be able to rehearse and remember God’s Big Story, whether they’re sitting at their desk at work, or driving in the carpool line, or making dinner. My prayer is that they would behold Christ, remember their secure, eternal hope in hard times, and be reminded of how good the gospel really is.
Any memories of your time in Boston, at CTK for worship—or anything other thoughts? One of my most vivid memories of CTK is of communion each week. In the moments leading up to communion, Pastor Rick Downs would remind us of our spiritual poverty, and tell us to run to the table. Run! It was such a vivid picture for me of my need for the gospel, and I think the preaching reinforced this again and again. The gospel becomes sweeter and sweeter to us as we mature in Christ, because we realize more and more our need of it and dependence upon it!
I also learned a lot from Amanda Holley as she led us in worship. There was somehow both an excellence (I think I was the only one on the team that couldn’t read music!) and a humility there. In a worship music culture where worship leaders are often framed up like rock stars, there was an “out-of-the-way-ness” about Amanda and the team that was so Christ-like. I also loved how Pastor Rick would remind us - in John Wesley’s words - to “sing lustily and of good courage” and then the congregation would respond with gusto, singing to God and to each other. It was so encouraging to hear each other sing.
To listen a Home and a Hunger, click here . It's great music for your commute or family time. You'll also find Caroline's other albums, as well as a bit more about her story and journey on her website, www.carolinecobb.com .