Petra at 50: Jekyll & Hyde (2003)


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 twenty-first studio album, and twenty-second overall, 2003’s Jekyll & Hyde.

The Backstory

Revival, released in 2001, was Petra’s third praise album, and in a time when praise albums were dominating the Christian music industry, it was their second such album within a four year span. The album had some great songs but didn’t make much of a splash on the charts, though it was well received by fans. Still, Petra fans were wanting more from the band. 

Fans began campaigning for Petra to go back to the rock, back to the sound of the late 80s and early 90s, when the band enjoyed its highest peak. Inpop Records agreed with the idea and work on a new album began. Bob Hartman was encouraged to not try to write songs to be like what was popular at the time, but to just be himself. Hartman liked that idea, and Jekyll & Hyde was conceived, inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson story. It would become an album the band saw as make-or-break.

The bigger story for the band behind the scenes, however, was the departure of drummer Louie Weaver, who had been with the band since 1981. No reasons were made public at the time, and to my knowledge none have ever come to light. Apparently it was John Schlitt’s decision, and you have to believe Bob Hartman would have concurred to keep moving forward. It does appear that, whatever happened, reconciliation has come about over the years, thankfully. Still, that left the band without a drummer. Greg Bailey was hired as bassist. He also collaborated in writing one song and did background vocals. However, Peter Furler of Newsboys, who ran Inpop, used Wade Jaynes and Phil Joel to play bass. As for drums, while Justin Johnson is featured in part, Furler himself replaced Weaver for recording, even touring with the band until Paul Simmons was hired.

Album Overview

Peter Furler had great appreciation for Petra, as they had a big part in Newsboys becoming a huge band in the Christian music industry. I have written before about my favorite concert I’ve ever been to being the late Saturday in October 1992, when Newsboys opened for Petra in Greenville, SC. Furler was familiar with Petra at their peak, so he took the production reins for Jekyll & Hyde himself. 

And after Revival featured no songs written by Bob Hartman, he was in on all ten tracks for Jekyll & Hyde, and Hartman being Hartman resulted in what is the most rocking Petra album of them all, with some fantastic songs. Everything seems reinvigorated here, in a way not seen since at least No Doubt. While Petra would never again have the commercial success they once enjoyed, fans of the band welcomed this album with open arms and, to a large degree, absolutely loved it.

My Origin Story

I was in my first year of marriage with my wife expecting our first child in 2003 when my long time friend and former roommate sent me a link to a very plain web page with a music file on it. No band name was listed. I recall there really being no information at all, other than some cryptic statement wondering who this was. I played the file and immediately knew. That’s John Schlitt! That’s Petra! It was what would become the first track on their new album, the title track, “Jekyll & Hyde.”

I was ecstatic, because while I wasn’t following a lot of Christian music background news at the time, if you’ve been reading this serious you have to know that by now I was pining, yearning, longing for Petra to return to the rock. So of course I bought this album on day one, at the Best Buy on College Road in Wilmington, NC, on my lunch break. And I played it immediately, and I loved it immediately.

Album Information

  • Released: August 19, 2003
  • Album Length: 31:09
  • Label: Inpop
  • Producer: Peter Furler
  • The Band: John Schlitt (lead vocals); Bob Hartman (guitar); Greg Bailey (backing vocals)
  • Guest Musicians: Jeff Frankenstein (programming); Wade Jaynes (bass); Phil Joel (bass, backing vocals); Peter Furler (drums, backing vocals); Jamie Rowe (backing vocals)
  • Production
    • Peter Furler (producer)
    • Dan Rudin (engineer at Bridge St. Studios)
    • Bob Hartman (additional engineer at House of Bob Studios)
    • Tony Palacios (mixing at The Sound Kitchen, Franklin, TN)
    • Kevin Pickle (mix assistant)
    • Richard Dodd (mastering at Vital Recordings, Nashville, TN)
    • Clark Hook (cover art and design)
    • Jennie Rollings (cover art and design)
    • Allen Lark (photography)


  1. “Jekyll & Hyde” (3:04) – Petra lets you know right away this album will be different. And when I say different, I mean back to the rock, that wonderful and familiar sound of some of their greatest albums, but with a harder edge. Hartman’s guitar is the first thing you hear, along with some subtle, ambient background noise, like air moving. Then the drums kick in and you know you’re in for a ride. And the lyrics, based on the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7:15, are some of the best of any era of Hartman: “I have a secret that I let nobody see. An evil shadow that’s been hanging over me. My alter ego that I try to hold at bay, But despite my good intentions he can always get away. He does the things that I don’t want to do. Sometimes I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. Two men are fighting a war inside.” And after the second verse, for good measure, Hartman writes, “He won’t do things that I know I should do.” It comes down to which man you’re going to feed and which one you’re going to starve. The conclusion? “I need somebody to rescue me when personalities clash. I know which person I want to be. With no defiance, just God-reliance.” This song is straight forward both musically and lyrically, and I absolutely love it.

2. “All About Who You Know” (2:35) – Hartman based the lyrics to this one on 1 John 5:20, which says, “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” The lyrics speak about a white collar, well-connected type of guy, busy and successful in his life. But what’s behind that? “Who can you turn to when your life is behind you? It’s all about who you know. It’s all about who you know. When you get to the end and you’ve got nothing to show, it’s all about who you know.” Musically, it’s Hartman’s guitars once again which stand out. In contrast to the previous few albums, Schlitt is again at his rock voice best. And at 2:35, there is definitely no filler here.

Here’s a live set on TBN in which Petra sang “Jekyll & Hyde,” “All About Who You Know,” “Life As We Know It,” and “Would’a, Should’a, Could’a”…

3. “Stand” (3:19) – A guitar intro for the third straight song, though this one is a little more low key. Based on Ephesians 6:13, the lyrics to this song invoke the armor of God to emphasize Paul’s theme of standing firm, “even when you don’t want to stand.” I particularly like the second verse: “And now you stand firm- but not on your own terms. We have no power all alone. But you can feel safe there with your shield of faith. The inner strength in you has grown. And when you draw your sword the enemy is fair game. We’re more than conquerors in Jesus’ name so take a stand.” This is another fast paced rocker, and there’s a musical bridge toward the end that reminds me of some of the guitar work on Wake-Up Call.

4. “Would’a, Should’a, Could’a” (2:58) – Greg Bailey collaborated with Hartman in writing this one, but you can feel Peter Furler’s, and perhaps Phil Joel’s hands all over it as well. It sounds like it could very well be a Newsboys song, and I mean that in a good way. Indeed, you can hear Joel on background vocals here. Lyrically, this song draws on Philippians 3:13–14 and is about not dwelling on the past, but pressing forward. “The here and now is waiting.” The chorus is super catchy: “Would’a, should’a, could’a done this and that. Don’t wanna live life with another regret. Would’a, should’a, could’a made another choice. I can see more the older I get. Would’a, should’a, could’a said something more. But it’s too late – there’s a knock at the door. Would’a, should’a, could’a won’t change a thing. The here and now is waiting.”

5. “Perfect World” (3:13) – This has been one of my favorites from the album since the first time I listened to it. Based on Isaiah 65:17, it’s about what the title sounds like it’s about. The guitar is raw and rocking, the drums are on point. I like just about everything about this song. Hartman’s lyrics are great. I especially like the second verse: “Some still worship ‘Mother Nature’ in her glory. They do a good thing when they stand up for her right. But ‘Mother Nature’ has a Father in the heavens. And His creation went astray but never left His sight. The old will pass away and bring a new birth. A whole new heaven and a new earth. In a perfect world, God’s throne will come. In a perfect world, in perfect world. In a perfect world ruled by His Son. In a perfect world, in a perfect world.”

Here’s a live performance from Norway in 2012…

6. “Test of Time” (3:00) – This song, based on Romans 13:11, begins with Hartman’s guitar and Schlitt’s voice. There is a definitive, almost militaristic type of rhythm going on here that you can almost bang your head to, if that makes any sense whatsoever. And lyrically, this song is continuing a theme seen in a couple of songs already; namely, urgency to live for Christ now. “The time has come, the time has gone. The time is now, but not for long. Before you take a second glance. Redeem the time and take a chance. It’s not too late to pass the test of time.” As the background vocals sing, “Time will slip away, every moment passing by. The choices that we make will stand the test of time.” We also get to Schlitt get into that almost scream at the end. 

7. “I Will Seek You” (2:34) – The rhythm to this song, the shortest on the album, is a little slower, but that’s not to say the song doesn’t bring the rock or the edge. John Schlitt sings a line, followed by Hartman and the drums. The lyrics are based on Acts 17:27: “That they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Hartman’s lyrics here are simple and direct: “I will seek You. I will find You. I will follow what I know is true. I will seek You. Like I used to, I will worship You.” This song resembles the whole album in that it just brings it straight at you, lyrically and musically.

8. “Life As We Know It” (3:27) – A slow guitar opens with Schlitt’s voice coming in, but then all of the sudden the guitar ramps up significantly as the drums come in. In another song drawn from 1 John 5, Hartman writes about the assurance of salvation here. “Never perfect, but perfectly forgiven, finding the courage to get up again. This is life as we know it, forgiven and free. Life as we know it, more abundantly. Born of the Son, we can finally see. This is life as we know it undeniably.” Then I love this: “Bent, but not broken. Tempted, but not shaken. Kept in the shadow of His wing. Held by the power. Sealed with the promise by the One who is over everything.” Another rocker with great lyrics.

9. “Till Everything I Do” (3:03) – The only song on the album that could reasonably be called a ballad, the lyrics are drawn from Colossians 3:17, which says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” And as the title of the song indicates, it’s about everything we do being about Christ. John Schlitt is great in this one, singing, “One by one You chip away at the edges of my heart. Till You see the hardness and the willfulness depart. You let me see my pride, then pull me to Your side.” The background vocals really add something here as well.

10. “Sacred Trust” (3:52) – Another one of my favorites from the time I got this album, this song is about the high calling we’ve been given to proclaim the gospel. In the verses Schlitt sings about Jesus not compromising His message during His earthly message: “You never tried to win more secular appeal and water down Your message with a slightly different feel. You never tried to be politically correct or skirt around the issue attempting to connect.” In an age in which so many churches seem almost eager to compromise the message in over to win people, these lyrics hit right between the eyes. As for Jesus, “You spoke the truth in love so faithfully. You expect no less from me. It’s a sacred trust that You gave to us, to take Your Word into all the world. It’s a sacred trust that You gave to us, the message of salvation and Your love.” And the bridge shows the resolve of the faithful believer: “You’re trusting us to be bold. The story has to be told to every nation and tongue young and old. I’m gonna shout from the hill. How could I ever be still? I’m gonna let the chips fall where they will.” While this song is not in and of itself the most musically impressive on the album, that last line I quoted sums up what Petra did with this album. They shouted the truth with their voices and instruments and let the chips fall where they would.

Ranking the Albums

  1. Unseen Power
  2. This Means War! 
  3. On Fire!
  4. Beyond Belief
  5. More Power To Ya
  6. Jekyll & Hyde – Now this is more like it, in every sense imaginable. Petra’s last full on studio album proved to be one of its very best. There are ten songs on this album and not one of them is a dud. I am so thankful that they did not go out with a whimper, but truly brought back the rock on an album full of Bob Hartman penned songs. Everything about this album was better than every other album, at least since the mid-90s. 
  7. No Doubt 
  8. Never Say Die 
  9. Come and Join Us
  10. Not Of This World
  11. Back to the Street
  12. Captured In Time And Space
  13. Wake-Up Call 
  14. Beat The System
  15. Revival
  16. Petra
  17. Washes Whiter Than
  18. Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus
  19. Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
  20. God Fixation 
  21. 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. “Jekyll & Hyde” – from Jekyll & Hyde – What a way to start this album, especially after the direction of the past few albums. Right away you knew Petra meant rock again. Lyrically this is about as strong as it gets for Bob Hartman. John Schlitt sounds great. Everything works here.
  6. “Dance” – from Unseen Power (5)
  7. “Adonai” – from Beat The System (6)
  8. “Whole World” – from Back to the Street (7)
  9. “Grave Robber” – from Not Of This World (8)
  10. “Hit You Where You Live” – from On Fire! (9)
  11. “Chameleon” from Never Say Die (10)
  12. “Love” – from Beyond Belief (11)
  13. “Road to Zion” – from More Power To Ya (12)
  14. “Godpleaser” – from Captured In Time And Space (13)
  15. “Not Of This World” – from Not Of This World (14)
  16. “This Means War” – from This Means War! (15)
  17. “Come and Join Us” – from Come and Join Us (16)
  18. “All Fired Up” – from On Fire! (17)
  19. “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)
  20. “Sight Unseen” – from Unseen Power (19)
  21. “Perfect World” – from Jekyll & Hyde – This song which focuses on the return of Christ and the world He will establish has long been a favorite of mine, and a reminder that there is eternity waiting, and what is now (apart from Him) is temporary. All the more reason to live for Him completely now.
  22. “Angel of Light” – from Never Say Die (20)
  23. “Praying Man” – from Wake-Up Call (21)
  24. “No Doubt” – from No Doubt (22)
  25. “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows” – from More Power To Ya (23)
  26. “Hollow Eyes” – from Beat The System (24)
  27. “Beyond Belief” – from Beyond Belief (25)
  28. “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened” – from This Means War! (26)
  29. “Destiny” – from Unseen Power (27)
  30. “Stand in the Gap” – from On Fire! (28) 
  31. “Hey World” – from Unseen Power (29)
  32. “Heart of a Hero” – from No Doubt (30)
  33. “Fool’s Gold” – from Back to the Street (31)
  34. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” – from Come and Join Us (32)
  35. “It Is Finished” – from Beat The System (33)
  36. “Sacred Trust” – from Jekyll & Hyde – The album closes with this bold statement from the band that they are not going to compromise, but keep proclaiming the truth of the gospel. It’s the same attitude we should all have. It’s always been a favorite of mine.
  37. “Woman Don’t You Know” – from Come and Join Us (34) 
  38. “Where Can I Go” – from Come and Join Us (35)
  39. “Not By Sight” – from Not Of This World (36)
  40. “Clean” – from Captured In Time And Space (37)
  41. “King’s Ransom” – from Back to the Street (38)
  42. “First Love” – from On Fire! (39) 
  43. “You Are My Rock” – from This Means War! (40)
  44. “Counsel of the Holy” – from On Fire! (41)
  45. “Midnight Oil” – from Wake-Up Call (42)
  46. “We Need Jesus” – from Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (43)
  47. “All About Who You Know” – from Jekyll & Hyde – Love the guitar. The lyrics pointing us to how what we do with our lives doesn’t hold up unless we know the Lord are so important. Another great song from this album.
  48. “Beat The System” – from Captured In Time And Space (44)
  49. “Send Revival, Start With Me” – from Revival (45)
  50. “For Annie” – from Never Say Die (46)

— — — 

Dropping off…

  • “How Long” – from Revival
  • “Magic Mirror” – from Washes Whiter Than  
  • “The Coloring Song” – from Never Say Die
  • “Bema Seat” – from Not Of This World 

Parting Thought

The album didn’t rise to the top of the charts. Petra did earn a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album… again… but the band wasn’t back in the consciousness of both listeners of Christian music. I’m not sure they expected to be. What they did was listen to their fans and go back to making great rock and roll albums which glorified God and challenged believers to be uncompromising ambassadors of the gospel. And in that they succeeded greatly with Jekyll & Hyde, producing some of their very best work. To get four songs in my top fifty at this stage in the game speaks to how I feel about this album. As I wrote above, I’m just so thankful they made this album. I love it. You can listen here.

Next time, as we prepare to bid farewell to 2022, the fiftieth anniversary year of Petra, I look at Petra’s Farewell.

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