I have a confession to make.
I don't really listen to or like Christian music.
Don't get me wrong, I love singing at church. There is something so special and profound about singing the truths about God and our salvation with my church family. But ordinarily I wouldn't choose to listen to those songs outside of the Sunday gathering.
Not all Christian music is terrible, some just isn't very clever or complex musically. Some of it is quite good! But often it just isn't a style that I would listen to for relaxation or enjoyment... I enjoy a mix of things especially when they have complex sounds and rhythms, harmonies and instruments. And a bit of folk, indie-rock, pop, punk-rock, electro-pop, grunge...depending on how I feel. But often Christian music is often very power-ballad-y or a style of rock I just don't enjoy.
There are, however, a few Christian artists I do enjoy and would choose to listen to on the odd occasion. Page CXVI is one of them. I quite like old hymns, mostly because the words are so meaty, but these guys do updated and tweaked versions of well known hymns in a style which I quite like for the most part.
So when I found myself in the mood to listen to them the other day, it had been a good few months since I had listened to them. I was listening through their first album of hymns and I was struck again by their arrangement of 'Joy'.
If you aren't familiar with it have a listen!
This version definitely isn't for everyone. I know a few people who really don't like it. But for me, this very sad, minor (in one part reminiscent of the emo-rock that was so popular in the early 2000's) version of a well known children's song really cuts to my heart.
The juxtaposition of the mournful tone with the words is a really poignant way of showing that as a Christian I can be struggling with something, having a terrible time, or be super depressed but I can still know that there is a joy and happiness in the hope to come which is down in my heart. Sometimes deep, deep down, as the song suggests.
And that is just such a relief to hear that the artists behind this song understand this place for sadness and being realistic that life can be really hard sometimes. But more than that it points me to God's word because there are so many times in the Bible where suffering and hardship are talked about as normal parts of life, while holding out the hope of Heaven.
Which is why I love that this version of the song ends with a verse of 'It Is Well With My Soul'. Because as a Christian who is prone to bouts of depression and anxiety, I am learning that it is well with my soul because I have a greater hope. A sure hope for life with God in the new earth where there will be suffering no more.