Oliver Anthony

Bible-Quoting Oliver Anthony Debuts Down Under on World Tour

18 March 2024

3.7 MINS

Oliver Anthony has made a habit of reading from Scripture at his live performances, even as his fame continues to grow.

Former farmer and factory worker Chris Lunsford, better known by his stage name Oliver Anthony, swung by Australia over the weekend as part of his world tour Out of the Woods.

Performing on Saturday at popular country music festival CMC Rocks on the outskirts of Ipswich, Queensland, Anthony’s Down Under debut marks the 16th of more than 40 shows scheduled across continental Europe, the British Isles and his native United States. Australia is his sole stopover in the Southern Hemisphere.

Oliver Anthony, 31, shot to overnight fame last August, when his blue-collar anthem ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first artist in history to reach the top spot without previously appearing on the chart.

At the time, the song had enjoyed around 15 million views on YouTube. At last count, it had been watched some 125 million times.

‘Rich Men’, and many of Anthony’s tunes since, explore issues that mainstream music avoids but that modern people cannot escape — whether economic hardship, the growing mental health crisis, the failures of an aloof political class, and the dire need for hope in otherwise hopeless times.

Oliver Anthony has also made a habit of reading from Scripture at his live performances, with passages from Psalms, Proverbs and the Gospels featuring most regularly. Rarely does he provide commentary. Instead, Anthony lets God’s Word speak for itself, inviting his audience to join the dots between the themes in Scripture and the message in his music.

Sharing His Testimony With Joe Rogan

As he shared on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience last August, Anthony doesn’t consider himself a particularly exemplary Christian.

“I’m not anybody special and I’m certainly not here to preach to anybody,” he told the world’s most popular podcast host, adding that he had simply “found a lot of peace from this book”.

Anthony explained that he had grown up going to church but had “found a lot of theatrics and a lot of politics in church and religion when I was younger and so it just immediately turned me off to it”.

His transformation came much later, following a period of drug use, drinking and spiralling hopelessness, topped off by a medical emergency.

“I remember being in the truck after that, and I just had a breakdown moment. I was just crying. I felt hopeless, like almost the way a child feels hopeless when they can’t find [their] parent…”

It was at that point he decided,

“I’ll make Him [God] the focus, not me. And I’ll just try to let my ego and everything that I was, just let that go.”

Reading the Bible at the Grand Ole Opry

There are few higher achievements for a country musician than performing at ‘the Home of Country Music’ — the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Oliver Anthony was recently given that honour, performing ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ before a packed house, as told in a short video released by the Grand Ole Opry in conjunction with his debut there.

Feeling no reason to change tack on the big stage, Anthony let his guitar hang and his song delay as he opened a big, leather-bound Bible to read from Matthew 24:32-35.

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my [Jesus’] words will never pass away.

Discussing Humanity’s Common Ground with Jordan Peterson

Another stage that Oliver Anthony probably did not expect to appear on was the Jordan B. Peterson podcast, which he did in September last year.

Explaining what caused his hopelessness about the world, Anthony told Dr Peterson, “We find fault in each other instead of finding common ground in each other anymore.” He explained how this state of affairs makes no sense given how much we share in common as fellow human beings:

We all hold much more common ground than we do difference. We’re all very biologically similar. We all have to acquire some amount of money. Most of us have ambitions of raising a family or at least developing friendships. I’d say 90 per cent of the people that at least exist in North America are very similar in almost every way, but we’ve somehow found the nit-pick, arbitrary differences that we hold…

We are more divided today than we’ve ever been. Everything’s politicised, everything is about one party or one person trying to hold some moral high ground over the other just for the sake of being able to point their finger down at them.

According to Anthony, there is a better way: “We have just an incredible opportunity to live in the place that we do.” He adds that free speech provides us with the precious ability to have honest and open conversations with each other that take us to a better place than where we were previously.

Oliver Anthony’s is a message that will surely ring true for the country music fans who made their way to Ipswich over the weekend — and who doubtless will have heard Anthony quote the Bible during his performance.

Let us know your thoughts below. Did you get a chance to see Oliver Anthony perform? What encouragement do you take away from his journey over the last year?

___

Image courtesy of Oliver Anthony Music.

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2 Comments

  1. Warwick Marsh 18 March 2024 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I just love Oliver Anthony. Great article Kurt!!!!!

  2. Ian Moncrieff 18 March 2024 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Haven’t seen his show, but I believe I see his heart. His Richness isn’t in this world, he’s storing up treasure in heaven with his bold declaration of the truth that is Jesus Christ.

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