And when it comes to seemingly insurmountable odds, it doesn’t take long to realize that, indeed, against the grain, despite anything and everything, Michael is indeed a light to many. Perhaps nowhere is this more beautifully or poignantly translated than through the new, compelling recording of “In Christ Alone.” Sonically, it travels in a new direction. But the heart of the song is as alive today, perhaps even more so, than ever within Michael’s life.
Like everyone else in life, Michael has traversed his fair share of valleys. While at a precipice of his musical success, life showed up in ways that forced Michael to step back, regroup and rediscover what it means to be truly dependent on Christ.
“When that song went number one in 1990, I was being treated for depression,” he shares.
Several years later, with mercies anew each day, Michael is now singing the song with a wisdom that only life, trial and transparency can lend. It’s that same transparency that has allowed Michael to identify with, pray for and connect with people around the world who are struggling, who are flailing, who are… people.
“I hear people leaving concerts saying that they were ministered to and touched by my story,” shares Michael. “They are telling me that they now have feelings of hope.”
Understandably a bit trepidatious about reworking such a well-loved song, Michael did his due diligence to run it by one of his most esteemed fans…quarterback Frank Reich.
On January 3, 1993, Reich replaced starting quarterback Jim Kelly, to lead the Buffalo Bills from a 31-0 deficit to a 42-40 victory over the Houston Oilers. It remains the largest comeback in NFL history to this day. In a press conference following the game, Reich shared that his inspiration came from listening to “In Christ Alone” immediately prior to taking the field.
Michael, a Buffalo Bills fan had not seen the end of the game or even knew that his team had pulled it out until he started getting phone calls from others who heard Frank crediting the song and Michael in a post-game press conference.
“I wanted to make sure Frank was ok with the new version,” shares Michael.
Frank set his mind at ease and echoed the sentiment of all who have been privy to the epic remake with his simple and spoton reaction: “It’s a masterpiece.”
From track one to the end, the album is the work of a master artisan. With truths that are undeniable, a heart willingly transparent for the glory of God’s work and refined musicality that can only come after years in the studio of life, Michael English is once more affirming the source of his ultimate strength, the one who is endlessly creative and relentlessly in pursuit of the hearts of his children in the sweet spot of anointed collaboration and undeniable talent.
As enigmatic and soul-stirring as ever, Michael is proof positive that yes, for better or worse, some people do change; but the gifting from the one who sings His own melody of salvation, when committed into the hands of the Giver only gets better and better as the years go by.
Caroline Lusk is editor of CCM Magazine.