For God so loved the KOSMOS: how William Matthews’ latest album invites us to a bigger picture of God

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The idea that “God so loved the kosmos,” from the translation of the original Greek in John 3:16, inspired the title of William Matthews’ sophomore album, “KOSMOS,” which was released November 9, 2018.

Matthews discusses the creation of his record in an episode titled “KOSMOS” on “The Liturgists Podcast.” From the invocation to interludes of prayer and a benediction of poetry spoken by various guests interspersed among the songs, there is a sense of liturgical structure around the album, yet it does not feel like just another Christian record.

“I would say it’s a ‘Christic’ (Christian mystic, a term derived from Teilhard de Chardin) record … Christ being the invisible foundation of the universe … ‘Christian’ [is fine but] carries a type of stigma to it that I don’t necessarily buy into,” says Matthews on “The Liturgists Podcast.”

Matthews, who had built a career as a singer-songwriter for Bethel Music, parted ways with the Christian label in 2016.

“As a worship leader, you have to be all things for all people; you’re not an artist… I’d rather be an artist than a worship leader,” says Matthews.

Although many of the 18 tracks on “KOSMOS” could be interpreted as “Christian,” it goes beyond the praise themes found in much of contemporary Christian music to embrace a more mystical side of faith.

In “Interlude: Shadow & Light,” he remarks: “I, I feel so lost and alone and broken in the kosmos / And it’s not until I wrestle with the shadow / That I truly can see the light.”

“Light the Way” contains mostly instrumental sound and few lyrics: “Mystery O’ Mystery / Show us what we need to see / Light the way home.”

“KOSMOS” is an exploration and declaration of God in all things without always having to name God, who simply is. And that makes it stand out from other Christian records that tend to invoke the name of Jesus (or one of his many titles) in constant chorus, which you will not find on this record.

“KOSMOS” invites listeners to contemplate the divine mystery of the universe — the “glory hallelujah” which, in the words of Dr. James Cone in the invocation that begins the album, “is the fact that there is a humanity and spirit that nobody can kill.”

You can listen to “KOSMOS” on digital platforms such as Spotify, YouTube and iTunes.