Out of the deluge of feelings flowing from the tragedy and the trauma of September 11, Bruce Springsteen has fashioned his first album of new material in seven years. Here you will find ballads about the ache of loss, the tight grip of grief, the anger that fuels ideas of revenge, the yearning to find a way through all the darkness, and the subtle hint that hope lies just around the next horizon. Springsteen is back with the E Street Band, and it is a gladsome reunion.

They get things off to a rambunctious start with "Lonesome Day" where the lyrics blaze: "House is on fire. / Viper's in the grass / A little revenge and / this too shall pass." We know at once that Springsteen and the band are going to take us on a journey to some places we’d rather not visit again — but that’s the price we have to pay for getting on board this gospel train.

Before we know what's hit us, we're right there in the midst of the inferno of the Twin Towers with “Into the Fire." It's a stirring ballad that pays tribute to the firefighters who laid down their lives for others:

"The sky was falling and
streaked with blood
I heard you calling me,
then you disappeared
into dust . . .
I need your kiss, but love
and duty called
you someplace higher
Somewhere up the stairs,
into the fire."

This song is reminiscent of Springsteen’s classic “Badlands.” The verse sets up the dire situation. The chorus is a gospel chant that raises our spirits. Here through a rousing refrain, Springsteen salutes the courage and the selflessness of these heroes:

"May your strength
give us strength
May your faith give us faith.
May your hope give us hope.
May your love give us love."

Some of the same spirit shines through "My City in Ruins" which seems like a natural image for Manhattan after the catastrophe but actually refers to Asbury Park, New Jersey, a city in disrepair. No matter, the question Springsteen asks is the right one: "Tell me how do I begin again?" The answer, “with these hands,” can be read two ways. We have to get to work rebuilding ourselves, and we pray to God for the needed strength and the faith. The soaring gospel sound tilts the emphasis to the latter as we can almost sense the divine energy at work.

There are references to September 11 in "Paradise" (a suicide bombing), "Empty Sky" (where the line "an eye for an eye" leaps out), and in "You're Missing" (the grief for a loved one). But the two most powerful selections on the album are "The Rising" and "Worlds Apart." In the first. Springsteen serves up a rousing gospel hymn. It is a song about resurrection on an album where there is much sadness and loneliness. The most surprising number of all is the weird "Worlds Apart" buoyed by a burst of sound by a Pakistani group that sings quawwali, mystical Islamic songs. The ballad is about an interethnic love affair. Springsteen cuts to the quick with these lyrics:

the truth just
ain't enough
Or it's too much
in times like this
Let's throw the
truth away, we'll
find it in this kiss. . . .
Let’s let love give what it gives."

Love builds bridges whereas ideological truth separates. The kiss across the abyss is the unity that brings us all together as members of one human family. We can no longer adhere to ideas that promote worlds apart. Please play this song again and again. Let it become a mantra for you and your loved ones.