Petra at 50: Revival (2001)


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 twentieth studio album, and twenty-first overall, 2001’s Revival.

The Backstory

The latter half of the 1990s had been tumultuous for Petra. Bob Hartman had decided to stop touring after the Wake Up Call tour in 1994. He still wrote and played on No Doubt in 1995, and had a role in writing a few songs on the next couple of albums, but his departure had been a huge change. The lineup of the group was a revolving door for the rest of the decade and into 2000 as Petra searched for its identity. What was it now and who was it going to be going forward? The album Double Take in 2000 may have won the band another Grammy, but it was a commercial bomb, did not achieve the hoped for radio success, and turned off many long time fans of the band.

To add to the unsettledness of the band, after 2000 it was without a record label, its deal with Word/Epic having run out. What record label would want to invest in a band which was clearly, at this point, on the decline – and to some, its deathbed? Enter Newsboys frontman Peter Furler, who had co-founded inPop Records in 1999. inPop’s focus was, for the most part, independent artists with international flavor, but with something to offer the world of Christian music. But Furler remembered it had been Petra that brought Newsboys touring with them back in the day. A show from the Unseen Power tour in Greenville, SC, in October 1992 ranks as my favorite concert ever attended. Newsboys opened for Petra that night, and ended up breaking out in the years proceeding. Furler didn’t forget Petra, so they were signed to a three album deal.

But who would Petra be? Hartman decided to come back and play, but everyone else from the band except for John Schlitt and Louie Weaver moved on. This was fine. These three had been in Petra since, at the most recent, 1986. So they would bring in session artists to fill the gaps. Additionally, they decided that if they wanted to bring Petra back to life, so to speak, a third praise album was the way to go. Enter Revival.

Album Overview

John and Dino Elefante had produced the vast majority of Petra’s albums going back to 1986. As Petra moved in a new direction they also linked up with new producers. In doing a third praise album, Petra tabbed Jason Halbert and Dwayne Larring, two original members of Sonicflood, a band at the forefront of modern praise and worship music which was dominating the Christian music industry at the time.

Revival has eleven tracks and is the only Petra album to have no songs written by Bob Hartman. Instead, the band took songs and arrangements from other artists, many of which were common on Christian radio and in churches at the time. The production features a more synthesized sound in many areas, but Hartman and Weaver still get to show their chops in several places. John Schlitt sings lower than what you’re used to hearing in many of the songs, but his high notes mixed in to provide contrast.

The album was generally well received by fans and critics alike.

My Origin Story

I was living in the mountains of West Jefferson, NC, when this one came out. The release date I found is November 20, 2001, but I’m pretty sure I got my hands on it at least a little bit before that. I remember this being in my car on the way to visit the woman who would be my future wife in Wilmington. Regardless, I believe this was one of the first CDs I purchased online. I liked the album from the start, mainly because it wasn’t Double Take. I have never considered it a favorite, but I’ve always liked listening to it.

Album Information

  • Released: November 20, 2001
  • Album Length: 46:04
  • Label: inPop
  • Producers: Jason Halbert, Dwayne Larring
  • The Band: John Schlitt (lead vocals, background vocals); Bob Hartman (guitars, background vocals); Louie Weaver (drums)
  • Additional Musicians:
    • Jason Halbert (keyboards, programming, additional backing vocals); Dwayne Larring (guitars); Rick Cua (bass); David Larring; Kevin Walt; David Angell, Monica Angell, John Catchings (strings); David Davidson (strings, string arrangements)
  • Production
    • Steve Ford (executive producer)
    • Jason Halbert (producer, engineer)
    • Dwayne Larring (producer, engineer)
    • Marc Chevalier (engineer at The Bennett House, Franklin, TN; The Refuge, Franklin, TN; and House of Bob Studio, Franklin, TN; The Junction, Pasadena, CA)
    • Bob Hartman (additional engineer)
    • David Streit (assistant engineer)
    • Jacquire King (mixing at The Refuge, Franklin, TN, and EMI Studios, Brentwood, TN)
    • Richard Dodd (mastering at Vital Studios, Nashville, TN)
    • Dan Lessler (mastering assistant)
    • TH (art direction, design, layout)
    • Ben Pearson (photography)
    • Robin Geary (hair, makeup)
    • Dana Salsedo (stylist)


1. “Send Revival, Start With Me” (5:29) – This song jumped off the album from the start when I first heard it. Words are by Matt Redman. It starts slow and John Schlitt is singing loooooow, at least for him. In fact, I was so thrown by it when I first listened that I wondered who they’d brought in to sing this song… until I realized it was Schlitt. Upon listening to this song a few times  again in my preparation to write this is that, while there is definitely that newness to the sound, there’s a bit of back to basics going on as well, and I’m here for it. Schlitt sings low, then high is mixed in and we’re really getting to hear him sing in a way we haven’t for a few albums. Plus, there is Bob Hartman on guitar! The song is a in the form of a prayer, but it also serves as a challenge to the listener. If you want to see revival, what are you doing before God to bring it about? In other words, what about your life is reflecting the glory of God?

2. “The Noise We Make” (5:05) – A faster paced second song, beginning with some tribal type noise following by a shuffling percussion reminiscent of Double Take. The difference here is it’s in the context of a rock song, complete with electric guitar. Words here are from Jesse Reeves and Chris Tomlin and essentially it’s about making noise in worship before the God who is worthy and holy. You get to hear some of Schlitt’s trademark exclamations, as he’s once again low and high. Slight point deduction for too much repetition towards the end.

3. “Oasis” (3:56) – My overriding thought after hearing this one again is, if Petra wanted to modernize their rock sound for the past several years, this would have been a perfectly acceptable example of what could have been in the late 90s. That is to say, I like it. Ultimately, this song is about how God satisfies: “You give me water in a dry and thirsty land. You satisfy my hunger. You feed me from your hand. I was a wanderer in the wilderness until I stumbled on your oasis. And I will stay here with you, here in the shade, here in the cool. You keep me safe through the night in your oasis.” Well done.

4. “The Prodigal’s Song” (4:16) – The pace slows for this one, a song from the perspective of one who is like the prodigal of Jesus’ famous parable, one who needs to come back to the Father. Words are by Paul Oakley. It’s fine, I guess, but this is the first track on the album that is just kind of there for me.

5. “Amazing Grace” (4:03) – Normally I am not a fan of repackaged hymns. I’m looking at you, Chris Tomlin. However, I like this one. Petra did a really good job with this. I wish the guitar was mixed in louder, particularly during the solo portion. Yes, there is somewhat of a guitar solo here, something that has been too absent in the past few Petra albums. Anyway, this song moves. I’m no drum expert, but Louie Weaver is doing something different here that really adds to the song as well. One of the best tracks on the album, though the fade at the end is a little too abrupt.

6. “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” (3:32) – John Schlitt continues to predominately sing low, using high notes for emphasis and accent. This is the fastest paced song on the album. The second verse is my favorite: “There is a peace that calms our fears. There is a love stronger than death. There is a hope that goes beyond the grave. There is a friend who won’t let go. There is a heart that beats for you. There is one name by which we are saved.

7. “Better Is One Day” (4:36) – Another Redman song. The message of the song is out of Psalm 84:10, which says, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” I love the message of the song, but I’m not crazy about the arrangement. You might feel differently.

8. “Meet With Me” (3:28) – The words here are from Lamont Hiebert, who I know nothing about. Except he wrote a pretty cool song and Petra did a really good job with it. There actually aren’t a lot of words to this one, which didn’t really process with me until I went to look them up. “I’m here to meet with you. Come and meet with me. I’m here to find you. Reveal yourself to me. As I wait, you make me strong. As I long, you draw me to your arms. As I stand and sing your praise. You come, you come, and you fill this place. Won’t you come, won’t you come, and fill this place?” The verses are slow, but the chorus has not nice rock elements. Not fast, but solid. Plus, another guitar solo, and this one reminds me of something from a moderately paced late 80s rock song, which is a good thing. Another one of my favorites from the album. 

9. “You Satisfy” (4:26) – This song, with lyrics by Peter Gross and Ashlee White, is slow. Weaver has a bit of the shuffle going on again. Another song that is just kind of there.

10. “We Want to See Jesus Lifted High” (3:02) – A fast mover that is also very simple in its lyrics. It’s about wanting the name of Jesus exalted everywhere. Hartman is playing dual guitars here mixed together, and has another nice solo, which is probably the best part of the song to me.

11. “How Long” (4:06) – Stuart Townend, who has played a role in several of the better modern hymns in the past two or three decades, wrote the words to this one. This is definitely the best of the slower paced tracks on the album and I really like it. It is a song of anticipation in the midst of a world permeated by sin, death, and suffering. It’s a fitting end to the album, beginning with the lyric, “We have sung our songs of victory.” Then it later asks, “How long before You drench the barren land? How long before we see Your righteous hand? How long before Your name is lifted high? How long before the weeping turns to songs of joy?” There is even a great line in the second verse about how we have failed children who have never seen the light, a lyric I presume (and applaud!) to be about the holocaust of abortion, and believers’ all too common apathy. There is also a great key change before the third verse, when the song turns to hope, that certain future optimism all believers can and should have: “But I know a day is coming when the deaf will hear his voice. When the blind will see the savior and the lame will leap for joy. When a widow finds a Husband who will always love his bride and the orphan finds a Father who will never leave her side.”

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. Revival – This is a respectable showing for this album, considering all that is ahead of it, and especially considering how I feel about the previous three albums (all ranked below this one). Petra’s three core members infused some new production blood and it seemed to rejuvenate the band. 
  15. Petra
  16. Washes Whiter Than
  17. Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus
  18. Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
  19. God Fixation 
  20. Double Take

The #Petra50

  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 (43)
  44. “Beat The System” – from Captured In Time And Space (44)
  45. “Send Revival, Start With Me” – from Revival – A really solid song to lead off this album and set the tone. It has always resonated with me.
  46. “For Annie” – from Never Say Die (45)
  47. “How Long” – from Revival – This is an example of a song that was out of my consciousness for a long time, but upon listening to this album a few times to write this post, really grew on me. Whether it can remain in this list as we get toward the end remains to be seen, but this one will be in my rotation from now on.
  48. “Magic Mirror” – from Washes Whiter Than (46) 
  49. “The Coloring Song” – from Never Say Die (47)
  50. “Bema Seat” – from Not Of This World (48) 


Dropping off…

  • “Back to the Street” – from Back to the Street (49)
  • “Get On Your Knees and Fight Like A Man” – from This Means War! (50)

Parting Thought

When I heard Petra was recording a third praise album, their second within five years, I wasn’t crazy about the idea. And truth be told, I still might do it differently, but they aren’t me and I’m not them. Petra fans seem to have liked this album, but I don’t think it resonated with the masses or with radio the way the band had hoped. I still really enjoy the album, and have no problem ranking it as the best of the three praise albums. It was a shot in the arm to a band that needed an injection of life. And that injection… would get steroids for the next album. Until then, you can listen to the Revival album here.

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