Petra at 50: Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (1997)


In celebration of Petra turning fifty years old in 2022, here at I am going album by album through their discography and reflecting on the role their music has played in my life. In this post my focus is Petra’s seventeenth studio album, and eighteenth overall, 1997’s Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus.

The Backstory

As if Petra hadn’t experienced enough change going into No Doubt, with John Lawry’s departure during the previous tour, Bob Hartman’s decision to come off the road, and the additions of Jim Cooper and David Lichens on keyboard and guitar, respectively, the band experienced more upheaval than ever before going into their next album. Ronny Cates decided it was time to step aside after being with Petra since 1988. Beyond that, Cooper and Lichens were not retained after just one album. A lot of that seems to have been the decision that the next album would be a second praise and worship album. Their first, Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1989), had been very successful, and in an environment in which Petra’s popularity was waning among younger listeners, the decision was made to make another album with a Petra take on the sound of praise and worship songs of the time.

Cooper and Lichens were not on board with the decision and were removed from the band. I will have more to say about what I think of the decision to go with another praise album later. Nevertheless, that left three spots to fill on what had been a five man band since for the better part of two decades. Lonnie Chapin, who came to Petra through a connection with touring with Whiteheart, became the new bass player. Kevin Brandow took on keyboards and would play some guitar as well. Pete Orta became the lead guitarist.

Amidst all of the change, Petra would come to release Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus. How would be received? How good was it?

Album Overview

Petra’s second praise album proved to be more of a radio success than had been their last couple of albums. I remember hearing “Ancient of Days” and “We Need Jesus” some, but it was their rendition of “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High” that scored highest with radio audiences. To this day you’ll hear that one occasionally. The album won another Dove Award for Praise and Worship Album, and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. Bob Hartman penned three songs, but most of the rest were written by those outside of the band. There was also more collaboration on this album in the way of guest musicians than any Petra album before. In the end, this is what it was intended to be: a new take on a Petra praise album.

My Origin Story

This album came out during a season in my life in which I hadn’t lost faith, but I was not actively in a church. I was living a pretty lazy and discouraged life for much of the late 1990s, so I was not even aware this album was a thing until I went to the Christian bookstore on a whim one Saturday afternoon. I picked it up and was intrigued by the title, and interested when I saw Petra had done “We Need Jesus,” which I’ll talk more about below. I liked parts of the album, over parts didn’t really resonate. And partly because the season of my life I was in, I didn’t end up listening to this one too much.

That said, I did go to a concert on this tour. Sadly, it was the last Petra concert I’ve been able to go to. It was July 5, 1997, and Petra did a concert at the Charlotte Coliseum after a Charlotte Sting WNBA game. The atmosphere didn’t lend itself to a great concert, and John Schlitt actually forgot some words to “Beyond Belief.” Still, it was fun because it was Petra.

Album Information

  • Released: February 18, 1997
  • Album Length: 46:41
  • Label: Word, Epic
  • Producers: John Elefante and Dino Elefante
  • The Band: John Schlitt (lead vocals, background vocals); Bob Hartman (lead guitars); Lonnie Chapin (bass guitar, background vocals); Louie Weaver (drums)
  • Guest Musicians: Jeff “Max Roach; Gary Burnette; Scott Dente; George Marinelli; Matt Pierson; Dan Needham; Crys (background vocals); Lisa C. (background vocals); Lisa (background vocals); John Elefante (background vocals, additional lead vocals on “We Need Jesus”); Lou Gramm (additional lead vocals on “We Need Jesus”)
  • Bob Hartman (executive producer)
  • John Elefante (producer)
  • Dino Elefante (producer, engineer at The Sound Kitchen, Franklin, TN)
  • Joe Baldridge (engineer)
  • Richie Biggs (overdub engineer at The Border, Franklin, TN; Battery Studios, Franklin, TN); The Snack Bar, Brentwood, TN)
  • Tim Coyle (assistant engineer)
  • Daryl Roudebush (assistant engineer)
  • David Thornier (mixing at The Sound Kitchen – 1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12)
  • Steve Marcantonio (mixing at The Sound Kitchen – 2, 3, 6, 9)
  • Bob Ludwig (mastering at Gateway Mastering, Portland, ME)
  • Christy Coxe (executive art direction)
  • Kerosene Halo (art direction, design)
  • Mark Smalling (photography)


  • Be advised, on some of these songs I don’t have a lot to say that is noteworthy. I’ll try to explain more why that is, some good and some not, below.

1. “Song of Moses, Rev 15:3–4” (4:17) – Petra made an interesting choice to start the album with this one, a relatively slow song. Words for this one came from the recently departed Jim Cooper, along with Brian Wooten from White Heart, but really these words come right from the word of God, specifically the reference that is part of the title. That really all there is to the lyrics, so they repeat, but since it’s Scripture I don’t really mind that. I like this one.

2. “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High” (3:02) – Words and music by Rick Founds for this very well known praise chorus, and among the many in contemporary Christian music who have covered this, Petra gave us one of the best and most memorable. Hartman is grooving with his guitar, particularly toward the beginning, to help distinguish Petra’s version from others out there. Schlitt’s voice is in fine form. Very well done for what it’s worth.

3. “Be Of Good Cheer” (3:55) – This is the first of three songs on the album written by Bob Hartman. It’s also the first song on the album which sounds like it could’ve been on any other Petra album. The lyrics are from the perspective of Jesus, and they are mostly right out of the Gospels. After the chorus comes the second verse, which goes, “For now I go away, but I will return. To take you to a place to dwell, so where I am you’ll be as well. Be of good cheer.” Schlitt is doing both lead and background vocals here, singing lower, which is not normal but was becoming more normal, but he really busts out about two-thirds of the way through the song with a screaming vocal that hits. It’s the first time his vocals sound like Petra on this album.

4. “Show Your Power” (4:10) – Things come down a few notches for this worship ballad, words and music by Kevin Prosch. I don’t ever remember singing this one in church, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. The lyrics speak of God reigning and creating, then the power of the gospel to save. Musically, the song isn’t very distinctive.

5. “I Love You, Lord” (3:53) – In my youth group days this may have been my favorite praise and worship song. I distinctly remember a youth event at my church when we sang this on a Saturday night, and on one round of it the instruments dropped out and it was a cappella, and it just stayed with me. It’s a classic late twentieth century worship song, with words and music by Laurie Klein. In Petra’s version, it starts out with a choir singing. Schlitt doesn’t come in until the second round. I may have done the reverse, with Schlitt carrying a bigger load and the choir supplementing him. I’ve always loved this song. I just didn’t need to hear Petra’s version of it. 

6. “The Holiest Name” (3:34) – The second Hartman song, and not surprisingly, the second song  I could hear on other Petra albums. At the same time, it’s very much a song for corporate worship. Consider the chorus: “Lord, we love and proclaim the Holiest Name of God in the highest. Lord, above every name, no other can claim the Holiest name of all.” There is an interesting little stop and start toward the end, before a fade out. A worthy addition to this album.

7. “Let Our Voices Rise Like Incense” (2:29) – With words and music from Linda Whitmer-Bell, this song sounds like one of the slower songs on the first praise album. There is too much choir for my liking here, and nothing instrumentally of note. 

8. “Ancient of Days” (3:52) – With words and music by Gary Sadler and Jamie Harvill, I really enjoy Petra’s version of this song, drawing upon a rarely used name for God found in the book of Daniel. It’s up-tempo compared to the last song, but not necessarily fast. Schlitt is leading on the vocal, but the background vocals behind him are solid. This is also one of the few songs in which the instrumentation stands out. Louie sounds good on the drums and Hartman is adding a bit on the guitar between verses and choruses. Good stuff.

9. “I Waited For The Lord On High” (2:47) – Now here we go. Hard rock for the first (and only) time on the album, and a song which absolutely would have fit in on No Doubt. Hartman starts on guitar and has a bit of a grunge sound going on in front of Weaver’s drums. Schlitt and background vocals sing, “I waited for the Lord on high! I waited and He heard my cry!” The words and music are from Bill Batstone, but I don’t remember hearing anyone else do this song in any other forum. I really enjoyed this one, though, as a nice kick in the pants compared to the relatively soft ballads and soft rock on the album. My one qualm is the awkward and abrupt way this song concluded. Why not extend it a little bit and let Hartman go off with a solo? I think I know why, which I’ll talk about below. Still, I like this one.

10. “Lovely Lord” (4:25) – The third Hartman entry is a ballad, and it’s a fine worship ballad at that. It’s the second of three songs by him here which make specific reference to the holiness of God. Consider the third verse: “We will worship the name of the Holiest One. We will worship Your excellency. We will give You the glory for things You have done and be thankful eternally. Lord, how lovely You are to me. The lyrics are the focus, but there is some nice, subtle guitar work going on in this song. 

11. “Medley – Only By Grace/To Him Who Sits On The Throne/You Are Holy” (5:58) – Petra puts three songs together here commonly sung in church services. In fact, I specifically remember the second one. The mixture of the songs works well. Schlitt leads well on vocals with a background choir supplementing him. The instruments don’t stand out, but at the same time you hear them. As far as medleys go, Petra did well here.

12. “We Need Jesus” (4:14) – Words and music didn’t come from Bob Hartman, but they did come from John and Dino Elefante, along with Scott Stringer. And let me tell you, I was excited to see this song on the album when I bought it, because in my youth choir in 1993 we did this and I just loved it. It was one of my favorite songs we sung. Petra does a great job with this, as Schlitt, former lead singer of Head East, is joined by John Elefante, formerly of Kansas, and Lou Gramm of Foreigner! So this song has three lead vocalists working together to point the listener to Jesus! The lyrics are great but incredibly simple: “When will the world see that we need Jesus? If we open our eyes we will all realize that He loves us. When will the world see that we need Jesus? When our hearts are as one and believe that He’s the Son of our God.” Then the chorus: “The Lord is our God and we shall never want. The Lord is our God and we shall live forever. When we share the love of Jesus see each other as He sees us, then His love will see us through. His love will see us through.” There are background vocals singing, “When will the world…” but make no mistake about it, the three lead vocals singing together steal the show. While this song isn’t actually a worship song, per se, it’s a great way to close out the album.

Ranking the Albums

  1. Unseen Power
  2. This Means War! 
  3. On Fire!
  4. Beyond Belief
  5. More Power To Ya
  6. No Doubt 
  7. Never Say Die 
  8. Come and Join Us
  9. Not Of This World
  10. Back to the Street
  11. Captured In Time And Space
  12. Wake-Up Call 
  13. Beat The System
  14. Petra
  15. Washes Whiter Than
  16. Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus – When I reviewed the first praise album, I said I didn’t listen to that album as much because, while it’s fine for what it set out to do, it didn’t really sound like Petra, and I wanted Petra. Much of those same thoughts could be shared here. This album starts off fairly well, gets a little lost in the middle, yet finishes up strong. I’ve listened to it several times over the past couple of weeks, and think more highly of it now than I did twenty-five years ago, but I’ll continue picking songs out to listen to, rather than listen to this album much from start to finish. For those reasons I put it just above the first praise album, but no higher.
  17. Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out

The #Petra50

There are a handful of good songs on this album, but only one, “We Need Jesus,” I believe merits serious consideration for the top fifty. Did it make it? If so, where?

  1. “He Came, He Saw, He Conquered” – from This Means War! (1)
  2. “Enter In” – from No Doubt  (2)
  3. “Creed” – from Beyond Belief (3) 
  4. “More Power To Ya” – from More Power To Ya (4)
  5. “Dance” – from Unseen Power (5)
  6. “Adonai” – from Beat The System (6)
  7. “Whole World” – from Back to the Street (7)
  8. “Grave Robber” – from Not Of This World (8)
  9. “Hit You Where You Live” – from On Fire! (9)
  10. “Chameleon” from Never Say Die (10)
  11. “Love” – from Beyond Belief (11)
  12. “Road to Zion” – from More Power To Ya (12)
  13. “Godpleaser” – from Captured In Time And Space (13)
  14. “Not Of This World” – from Not Of This World (14)
  15. “This Means War” – from This Means War! (15)
  16. “Come and Join Us” – from Come and Join Us (16)
  17. “All Fired Up” – from On Fire! (17)
  18. “The Praise Medley [“Let Everything That Hath Breath” / “Without You We Could Do Nothing” / “Praise Ye The Lord” / “Hallelujah Chorus”] – from Captured In Time And Space (18)
  19. “Sight Unseen” – from Unseen Power (19)
  20. “Angel of Light” – from Never Say Die (20)
  21. “Praying Man” – from Wake-Up Call (21)
  22. “No Doubt” – from No Doubt (22)
  23. “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows” – from More Power To Ya (23)
  24. “Hollow Eyes” – from Beat The System (24)
  25. “Beyond Belief” – from Beyond Belief (25)
  26. “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened” – from This Means War! (26)
  27. “Destiny” – from Unseen Power (27)
  28. “Stand in the Gap” – from On Fire! (28) 
  29. “Hey World” – from Unseen Power (29)
  30. “Heart of a Hero” – from No Doubt (30)
  31. “Fool’s Gold” – from Back to the Street (31)
  32. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” – from Come and Join Us (32)
  33. “It Is Finished” – from Beat The System (33)
  34. “Woman Don’t You Know” – from Come and Join Us (34) 
  35. “Where Can I Go” – from Come and Join Us (35)
  36. “Not By Sight” – from Not Of This World (36)
  37. “Clean” – from Captured In Time And Space (37)
  38. “King’s Ransom” – from Back to the Street (38)
  39. “First Love” – from On Fire! (39) 
  40. “You Are My Rock” – from This Means War! (40)
  41. “Counsel of the Holy” – from On Fire! (41)
  42. “Midnight Oil” – from Wake-Up Call (42)
  43. “We Need Jesus” – from Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus – John Schlitt, John Elefante, and Lou Gramm weave wonderfully together in this simple tune expressing the simplest of truths: We need Jesus. 
  44. “Beat The System” – from Captured In Time And Space (43)
  45. “For Annie” – from Never Say Die (44)
  46. “Magic Mirror” – from Washes Whiter Than (45) 
  47. “The Coloring Song” – from Never Say Die (46)
  48. “Bema Seat” – from Not Of This World (47) 
  49. “Back to the Street” – from Back to the Street (48)
  50. “Get On Your Knees and Fight Like A Man” – from This Means War! (49)

– – – –

Dropping off… 

  • “Somebody’s Gonna Praise His Name” – from On Fire! (50)

Parting Thought

Petra had seen significant change heading into 1995’s No Doubt, and combining that with the personnel changes for Praise 2, one could not be blamed for thinking this had become a different band almost altogether. Still, Schlitt, Hartman, and Weaver were there, and there are some really good songs on this album. But was it the right decision to go with another praise album at this point? I’m going to say a hard noNo Doubt was a great album, and I believe even if Petra’s star was fading in the CCM world, so to speak, they should have built on that and put out another killer album. This… is not killer. For a praise album it’s fine, but it’s missing much in the way of standout instrumentation. Some of that, I’m sure, is by design, not wanting solos to get in the way of praising God. I applaud that line of thinking. Musically, however, it made much of this album pedestrian, even boring. 

If I were in Petra and wanted to do something in the way of a praise and worship album, I think I would have opted for an EP, something shorter. Include “I Waited,” “Be of Good Cheer,” “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” “Song of Moses,” “The Holiest Name,” and maybe the medley. That would have been fine. Then, you save “We Need Jesus” for the next album, perhaps even name that album “We Need Jesus,” and it would’ve made that album stronger (more on that next time).  Anyway, that’s my hindsight. The simple fact of the matter is, this album had its moments, but not enough of them, and I feel the decision to make another praise album was a somewhat desperate attempt to maintain relevance in an industry that was beginning to churn out non-stop praise albums for much of the next decade. Petra should have stuck to what it did best: rock out with a majority of Hartman penned songs.

This has been perhaps the harshest critique of any Petra album yet. You’d think I don’t like that album, but I still think you should listen, and you can here

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