So it was that on Sunday night, September 24, 2017, some mendicants wandered off into a cathedral, and their prayers were whispered, and their song was sung.

Peterson took the stage, shared a welcome, and stated with a hint of apology that not everyone would get to hear their favorite song and that we should get one out of the way at the outset. Then he couldn’t find his guitar cable, and the opening became funny and awkward. Then the congregation sang the chorus to “Awesome God” a cappella like only Nashville can. It captured the sentiment of a Mullins show, all disheveled and unscripted and beautiful.

It’s one thing for an audience to know the chorus to “Awesome God,” but still another for them to know, on cue, the tribal background vocal to “Calling Out Your Name.” This was no random sold-out crowd; this was a house of pilgrims not unlike the wandering Andrew Peterson of 1995.

Andrew Peterson, Ryman Auditorium, Rich Mullins, CCM Magazine - image

photo: Mark Geil

Following these opening songs, Peterson acted as emcee, introducing each performer and sharing how he was connected to each by way of Mullins’ music. Before Jeremy Casella sang “The Howling,” Peterson shared a story. “When we were rehearsing the other day, he was like, ‘I just realized this song is about the Holy Spirit.’ And I thought, ‘That’s amazing.’ Twenty years and I hadn’t realized this song is about the Holy Spirit!” Such was the relaxed first set: a group of friends sharing—and sometimes geeking-out—about music of such profundity that it reveals new meanings two decades hence.


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