I heard about Rich’s death Sunday night; I immediately thought about all
the memories that I have with his music. The first memory is hearing
Winds of Heaven…Stuff of Earth at a church youth retreat in Florida. I
loved so many songs from it. “Wonder of This World,” his celebration of
nature was beautiful, but even more so was “If I Stand.” It is a classic
that still moves me and began my love for Rich’s music.
I only met Rich
twice; the most vivid memory was a snowy night at the old Koinonia
bookstore. It had just begun to snow, and Rich and Michael W. Smith
were doing a very small show. I watched in admiration as Rich hammered
on his dulcimer. Every time I heard his music it touched me in a very
For awhile I didn’t listen to any other new Rich CDs until The World as
Best I Remember It, Volumes I and II came out. I fell in love again.
“Boy Like Me/Man Like you” was again a breath of fresh air, and my wife
and I used “Sometimes Step by Step” as our recessional in our wedding.
However, my love grew stronger with A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a
Ragamuffin Band. I believe this is the best CD Rich ever released. It is
so strong lyrically with “Hold Me Jesus,” “I’ll Carry On,” and “Land of
My Sojourn,” which now holds so much meaning in his death. It describes
a life on the road and being alive in America.
Rich’s culmination musically came in Songs, and I feel the cover speaks
so strongly of his personality, his hands over his face, almost too shy
to be the man who speaks so powerfully through his music. His own
recording of “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” and the additions to it are
amazing. However, the song that Rich wanted to be remembered by was
“Elijah,” and it is true: the Jordan was waiting, but Rich isn’t
anymore. As sad as I am and his friends are, he lived a full life. He
showed a simple life and a full one. I loved his music, and in loving
his music, I loved him as well.
Rich Mullins was run over and killed by a tractor-trailer after being
flipped out of a sports utility vehicle that went out of control on
Friday night, September 19, 1997.