Children Pray & Keep the Faith
"Stop, look, and listen before you cross over." Mark Barker's natural father could hardly have imagined how the boy would take such common, cautionary advice...both literally and figuratively. He couldn't have known the grace, skill and genuine compassion Mark would bring to the world by and through his creative vision and original music. He never imagined the many glowing songs, full of Wisdom born of Father's simple counsel. But the boy's Heavenly Father knew all along. The last child of Knott County, Kentucky's preeminent Physician and Baptist Deacon Emeritus, the late Dr. D. G. Barker, Mark soon came into the proximity of birth, death and the oft-unfathomable Will of God. The youth tasted retribution and repentance, quickly weighing the relative merits of consolation and consequence. He listened and learned from Father's firm but gentle voice. His soul was steeped in Holy Scripture from long hours of reluctant study. As a teenager, he brought a plywood guitar and a rich baritone voice to Hindman First Baptist and First Methodist, absorbing the swirling Gospel harmonies buzzing around his head and the Rapture of Anointed Song. Later, appearances at College-era Christian coffee houses fueled his musical, spiritual inspirations and aspirations. Mark began to let go into the Mystery, discovered his own instinctive dialect of harmony, and followed wherever the Spirit led down across the swiftly passing years. When songs fell like showers of Blessing, Mark whispered humble thanks and quickly scribbled them into tangible form. Amid the maddening crowd, Mark Barker's new batch of spiritually infused music is a natural healing balm of poetry and melody; rhythm and harmony. It is a "soul poultice" for weary pilgrims passing through troubled times. In this third album, his first set of All-Gospel Hymns and Meditations; Prayers and Exhortations, Mark has distilled the Essence of all he has gathered through decades of faithful apprenticeship to The Spirit Muse and his very intimate relationship with Jesus, The Risen Christ. His is the voice and pen of a man who believes all he sings and writes about. His is the Faith that soothed tortured martyrs, was scrawled upon lonely asylum walls and was methodically, meticulously transcribed into ancient, sacred scrolls. His is The Eternal Truth ringing more relevant today than ever. His is the blood-bought Gift of Life earned only by disciplined servitude, unshakeable resolve and willing self-sacrifice. His Father moves and breathes in this set of Mark's vibrant and diverse songs. In fact, the songs are considerably more his Father's than his own. Perceiving both his blessings and his unworthiness, Mark pairs confessional near-perfect prayers in "You're So Good To Me" and "It Should Have Been Me". His Faith empowers the joyous "Troubled Times". His Word almost literally recounts pivotal scriptural events in "Three Times Tempted". His Light beckons us homeward in "My Guiding Light". His Peace leads down the narrow street called Straight toward "My Father's House". His Hope comforts as we contemplate that final, ageless "Family Reunion". His Strength sustains us in "The Lamb Has Paid The Price". His Presence permeates like sacramental incense in "The Sweet Mystery". His Power and Majesty embolden us in "Guardian Angels". His Love is the thread that runs so true throughout. His Joy echoes from the Eternal Celebration begun long before the dawn of time. Stop, look and listen before you cross over. Then go forth with your Blessing and make disciples unto the uttermost parts of the earth. "Children Pray and Keep The Faith", Doug Jones 1 May, 2007.