The album seems to unfold in three acts … for a full 25 minutes, the first four tracks comprise a suite that is as masterful as it is epic. This really is a musical journey...
The second song roars in with this clubby, techno Popmart-y shimmer, and then Bono croons, I was born to be with you... I was born to sing for you... and then heating up, he sings fiercely, Justified, till we die, you and I will magnify the Magnificent... it’s a Pentecostal moment, lemme tell you. It’s as if Bono’s hallelujah chorus at the end of Walk On was just a foreshadowing of this burst of Light.
Y’know, once upon a time, a young man grasping for words sang, Oh Lord, loosen my lips ... Twenty-eight years later, that boy is a man who is not begging for God to give him something to say, but instead has turned his voice over, to sing whatever song you wanted me to.
It gives me a chill, to hear him overflow with it like this – I remember having an epiphany one afternoon while sitting at my computer and listening to the B-sides of ’80-’90. Everlasting Love, the old Sixties hit, had seemed such a bizarre track to include, let alone record for a band like U2 who don’t do covers. And then --*ping!* suddenly I got it: Everlasting Love was a PRAISE SONG from them – and suddenly Bono’s breathless performance made perfect sense! He sang with a rush of joy, almost giddiness. After that I could listen to that track for hours at a time, like a mantra.
Magnificent is a different kind of praise: it’s grown-up. It’s humble. But it is also a rush of joy. It’s a celebration of knowing God will use you for God’s purposes – not your own: you and I will magnify...is there any finer prayer?? and the dizzying beat will make your blood rush as you listen to this rough man of faith in unapologetic adoration. I can already feel the moment when I join 50,000 other faithful in shouting that refrain along with him … come on, you’re gonna throw your hands in the air with me. I rejected my family's Pentecostalism out of sheer adolescent embarrassment, but I confess it sure comes natural under the right conditions.
But that’s only 10 minutes in -- you will still not catch your breath, because Moment of Surrender is ...
Well. Moment of Surrender is a song you must hear before you read anyone else's response to it. If you plan to get the record, then stop reading and come back later. Let your response be as personal as mine was, and is.
But you must know: Moment of Surrender is something special.