“Seen a Darkness” by John Mark McMillan

kings-kaleidoscope

This week for CMTDS, we are featuring the incredibly talented John Mark McMillan, with his song “Seen a Darkness” from his Economy album. John Mark needs no introduction; if you have mistaken him for being nothing more than the guy who just wrote “How He Loved”, you are missing out on one of the most talented and creative singer/songwriters on the scene today. John Mark’s lyrics are full of powerful imagery, relying heavily on his poetic creativity and indie-grunge sound, he is a breath of fresh air from the typical, pre-packaged Christian music on the radio today.

What it doesn’t suck: In this song, John Mark looks at the interesting duality of the reality of sin, and new life found in Christ. “The valley of the shadow knows our name” – we are well acquainted with the darkness that lies in our heart and in this world around us, it isn’t a small thing. John Mark isn’t implying that we are kind of bad, and need some improvement – no, we are “bankrupt and haunted”. But, that isn’t the end, we also have “seen a light”. In the midst of the darkness, the sun is not entirely eclipsed. I love the imagery of the comparison he makes that “we have felt the love of a hope’s hot blood in the machinery of night.” In the cold, mechanistic world of bleak darkness, we sense the hot hope of blood that will free us from the lifeless machine. It is true, this world is full of incredible despair, and we ourselves are full of sin – but there is a hope that is powerful and strong enough that it can overcome it. The story of the Gospel isn’t blissful ignorance – pretending that this world is better than it really is, walking around with fake smiles on. The story of the Gospel engages the world, and ourselves at the worst and says, “I can overcome this.” The final line of the song is worth memorizing, scribbling on the walls, shouting from the roof tops, and whispering to ourselves in the midst of those times of darkness.

Lyrics:

We have seen a darkness but we have seen a light
We have felt the love of a hope’s hot blood in the machinery of night
We have seen a darkness but we have seen the sun
We have come undone to a love’s hot song in a symphony of blood

The valley of the shadow knows our name
We have seen a night but we have seen the day
Dressed in the blood of love’s hot veins
We have overcome, yeah, we have overcome

Born into the grave but born a second time
We’ve been born again into loves hot hands on someone else’s dime

The valley of the shadow knows our name
We have seen a night but we have seen the day
Dressed in the blood of loves hot veins
We have overcome, yeah, we have overcome

You have called us loved and You have called us wanted
One time we were bruised, we were bankrupt and haunted

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