Calling Out Your Name

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Calling Out Your Name

by Rich Mullins

“Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob’s stairs
Yeah they danced on Jacob’s stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name
I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant’s wings
And there’s fury in a pheasant’s wings
It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I’ve seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name


Calling Out Your Name is a song by the late Christian songwriter Rich Mullins. The music is distinctive inasmuch as even in the long ago time of the 1990s, one did not often hear a hammered dulcimer on the radio. The lyrical imagery is also unique – describing God through a beautiful depiction of the Great Plains of the United States.

The song made a mark on me, decades ago, both for its distinctive sound and also because it described the part of the country where I lived. (It might come as a shock, but there are not a lot of songs, of any variety, that one might interpret as love letters to the Great Plains.)

There are a lot of lines that stand out to me, but the one that grabs me as a Heartlander is:

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see

Until the age of 11, when I moved to “the city,” my life was lived being able to see all the way out to the horizon. I loved it. I still love it. The early life eperience made such an impression, in my impressionable years, that ever since it has always felt just a little unnatural to be surrounded by neighbors right outside my door.

I don’t want to be too hard on contemporary Christian music, but it has suffered – as all forms of music have suffered – from a notable decline in musicianship. Mullins was a sincere and unique Christian, no doubt, but he was also just a really good musician, too.

Who is Rich Mullins?

Richard Wayne Mullins (October 21, 1955 – September 19, 1997) was an American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter best known for his worship songs “Awesome God” and “Sometimes by Step”. Some of his albums were listed by CCM Magazine in their ranking of the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music, including A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band (1993) at No. 3, The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume One (1991) at No. 7, and Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth (1988) at No. 31. His songs have been performed by numerous artists, including Caedmon’s CallFive Iron FrenzyAmy GrantCarolyn ArendsJars of ClayMichael W. SmithJohn TeshChris RiceRebecca St. JamesHillsong United and Third Day. During the tribute to Rich Mullins’ life at the 1998 GMA Dove Awards, Amy Grant described him as “the uneasy conscience of Christian music.” 

Mullins was devoted to the Christian faith and heavily influenced by St. Francis of Assisi. In 1997, he composed a musical called Canticle of the Plains, a retelling of the life of St. Francis set in the Old West

Mullins grew up in the Midwest, lived in Nashville, Kansas, and on a Navajo Reservation. He spent a lot of time in Ireland and in South America. He was influenced by St. Francis of Assisi. He has been the subject of multiple biographies. One of my favorites is “Homeless Man: The Restless Heart of Rich Mullins.”

4 thoughts on “Calling Out Your Name

  1. You should be hard on contemporary christian music. It’s emotional pablum.
    Sorry, I’ll get off my soap box now.

    Having grown up in New England, I’m used to be hemmed in by trees or hills or mountains, so I’ve never experienced, long term, living in a wide open space 🙂

    1. The more accurate way to phrase my feelings would be, “I don’t want to be too hard on contemporary Christian music (in this post).” I certainly share your feelings on the subject.

      I highly recommend living someplace truly wide open. It feels more free to not be surrounded and hemmed in. Of course, I know a lot of people couldn’t wait to get from wide open spaces to somewhere else where there’s more to do. To each their own.

    1. I’m glad you like it! I’ve always been a fan of Rich Mullins. He was clearly a sincere person, and I think his music and lyrics were so unique because his heart comes through in his work to an unusual extent.