As they prepare for their eighth world tour, Metallica has released a new single and strangely enough it shares the same title as a Catholic hymn, the first words of the communion antiphon of the Latin Requiem Mass. “Lux Aeterna” is the first single from Metallica’s upcoming album 72 Seasons and, whether they intended to or not, the metal band has given the Christian members of its fanbase a worthy meditation for the season of Advent.
We should note that Metallica is not known as a Christian band in the slightest. This is why we were so intrigued when we saw reports that they had named a song after a Catholic hymn. The song is not a cover of the hymn, although it does contain some striking lyrics that could speak to Christian audiences:
A sea of hearts beat as one, unified
Approaching thunder awaiting the light
Full speed or nothing
Full speed or nothing
It is interesting that Metallica would release such a song the day after the beginning of the season of Advent. This is a time in which all Catholics are “anticipating” the birth of Christ, seeking to be “unified” through one faith. Each of us are “awaiting the light” in times that feel as troubling as “approaching thunder,” and, of course, you can’t spell “magnification” without “Magnificat!”
While we are hesitant to call it a song of faith, Metallica’s “Lux Aeterna” could be construed as an Advent meditation. In other verses, lead singer James Hetfield sings of a “kindred alliance connected inside,” which is one way to describe the communion of faith, and “cast out the demons that strangle your life,” which points towards exorcism, an aspect of Christ’s ministry.
We are not sure what Metallica’s intentions were when they recorded “Lux Aeterna.” They have not commented on the song, but Loudwire has their statement regarding the album, 72 Seasons:
“72 seasons. The first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves. The concept that we were told ‘who we are’ by our parents. A possible pigeonholing around what kind of personality we are.”
With little else to go on we are left to speculate on the band’s reasons. It is possible that Hetfield, who has spent time in rehab for alcohol addiction, was introduced to the Christian terms in his recovery and was moved to write “Lux Aeterna.” In any case, the song gives metalheads something to ponder in this season of anticipation. Once again we see that God, as well as heavy metal, can work in mysterious ways.
Want to hear a more distinctly Christian “Lux Aeterna”? Check out this rendition from VOCES8.