I cried when I first saw The Collection at The Wild Goose Festival back in 2012. Their music playfully wooed me to weep over the passing of my younger self. I stood in the red North Carolina dirt under a tent filled with their songs and realized that the wounds I suffered growing up were fatal. A disappointed, imploding, heartbroken and hopeless part of me died there. I cried hard. I mourned, but I also shed tears of joy. I celebrated the freedom of a new life that can only come after death.
The Collection's new album, Ars Moriendi (Latin for the Art of Dying), came out in 2014 and I listened hoping for more. It wasn't long before I was crying again. I played the album for my 13-year-old daughter and she cried too.
When The Collection announced the first show of their album release tour, I knew we had to go. I got my daughter tickets for her 14th birthday and I returned to North Carolina prepared to die and be resurrected again. We got to the venue a bit early and walked in on the sound check. It only took a few chords to draw out the tears. During the concert, I held my daughter as we both died minute by minute. I lamented that moments like the one we were experiencing are all too rare and fleeting. Then I came back to life, wiped my tears and swayed with her, lost in our musical embrace.
In Ars Moriendi, The Collection is mourning too. The band lost a good friend to suicide and the album grew out of their grief. As they write on TheCollectionBand.com:
"Questions arise from song to song, wrestling unapologetically with life, death, hope, and the point of it all. Married with these themes is an overarching tone of redemption, both in lyric and musicality."
The album really is a redemptive experience, a symphony that slays the listener and brings them back from the dead. It's proof that an unflinching contemplation of death can be a life-affirming exercise that ultimately sets us free. For many that remains uncharted territory. It's often too scary to go there alone, so it helps to have a band like The Collection to journey with you.
You may have already heard one song from Ars Moriendi, "The Gown of Green." I've been using it as bumper music going into the last segment of our talk show. The song is filled with a sense of the freedom born of death, and it serves as the perfect anthem for a program about the radical grace that sets us free. Check out the video above and you'll see what I mean.
After that, get the album. You may not cry, not everyone is a sensitive as I am, but I bet you'll thank me for recommending some great music. It would also be a wonderful addition to your Lenten meditation as we walk through the desert toward Easter.