The Innocence Mission: The Brotherhood of Man


From the Proprietor:

This is an album review from my good friend Ben Shive, whose musical opinion holds a lot of water in my book (a mixed metaphor that is so strange a picture I decided to leave it). I have The Innocence Mission’s hymns record, and it’s in regular rotation on Sunday mornings at the Warren. I haven’t heard this record yet, but Ben makes a compelling case for how I should spend my next ten bucks.

innocencemission.jpgI stood in the parking lot with tears welling up in my eyes. The parking lot was the rendezvous point for a road trip I was embarking on with a friend. The tears in my eyes were occasioned by the lyrics to “The Brotherhood Of Man,” which I had just read from the insert of my friend’s copy of The Innocence Mission’s album, We Walked In Song.

All day, since your haircut in the morning
You have looked like a painting, even more than usual
We are in the wind, planting the maples
We meet an older man who seems to know I miss my dad
And he smiles through the limbs
We talk easily with him
Until the rain begins
This is the brotherhood of man

Waiting at the airport on my suitcase
A girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend
Though I did not learn her name
And when the subway dimmed a stranger lit my way
This is the brotherhood of man

I never can say what I mean
But you will understand
Coming through clouds on the way
This is the brotherhood of man

It’s all I can do not to print the entire sleeve of the record here*. We Walked In Song is so lyrically picturesque it’s almost a photo album. A treatise on brotherly love, these songs collectively speak a blessing on humanity. As Karen Peris, the band’s front-woman and writer, sings benediction after benediction–to her children, to loved-ones lost, to the brotherhood of man–her voice is the sound of love sweetly bearing grief. All this is couched in melodies and harmonies that radiate warmth, with generally sparse and understated accompaniment. Guitars, piano, harmonium, and touches of percussion are usually all that adorn the lyric. There’s very little drum set on the record, and it’s frequently saved for the end of a song. When the drums finally kick in, however, The Innocence Mission sounds like The Sundays in a rainy-day mood, and that’s a very good thing.

This band has been making music for a number of years and I have sadly been unaware of them until now. But from the opening bars of We Walked In Song, I knew that The Innocence mission and I were old friends just meeting.

*Here’s a link:

Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.