Monday, November 14, 2011

Crazy-Makin' Music

So, what's the state of the union, when speaking about worship music?

According to my very-talented son, the hottest and most impactful worship music these days was written at a minimum of 200-300 years ago.

That's right, I'm talking about old hymns.

Because the younger generation has finally gotten fed up with the trite and sappy lyrics of most modern day worship ditties.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I sat in a church service and felt enormous empathy mixed with pity for the worship team, sentenced to doing Trading My Sorrows for the gazillionth time.

It's just a strange song, from the weird lyrical mix of an encouraging bit of Scripture awkwardly coupled with trite prosperity-mentality, followed by the mind-numbing mantra of "yes, yes, yes" ad infinitum.

I'm always surprised when non-charismatic churches do this song. Don't they realize that what they're singing doesn't fit their beliefs?

I know some name-it-and-claim-it people who refuse to sing Blessed be the Name of the Lord because it contains the lines
You give and take away
You give and take way
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
even though it's from the Bible (Job 1:20-22). They hate this song because, in their worldview, God never takes away, He only gives (if your speaking in faith is up to par, of course). I don't agree with their theology, but at least they're thinking about what they're singing.

Another song -- which I actually really like -- that doesn't make a lot of sense is The Stand by Hillsong. It's musically powerful, and the ending chorus is a great lyric of surrender to His Lordship. But what's with that line "my soul now to stand"? It's awkward even as a single sentence in English, and it makes zero sense thematically with the lines before it.
Personally, I love singing the song in Spanish, because the line has been translated as "I come to You". ¡Vive México! :)
Full disclosure, here: I've also been guilty over the years of leading some songs during worship that I am now embarrassed to admit. Anyone remember Undignified? (insert sheepish expression here)

But I am impressed and encouraged to see that people like my son and his friends, and also the worship leaders at the church we attend, have added a healthy helping of older hymns of the faith -- with great new musical arrangements -- to their repertoire of worship.

One of the things that didn't come back from Mexico with me is my singing voice. Even just as a member of the congregation, my attempts at singing always degenerate into fits of coughing. So while I still enjoy the worship, I am more aware of the words of the songs than ever, from the different perspective of a non-singing participant.

So while I'm thankful for the thoughtful and creative song-writers of today, like Phil Wickham and Chris Tomlin (although I hope the trend of power-pop-praise gets tempered with some reflection and transcendence), I'm also thrilled to see the renewed interest in the old hymns.


  1. Amen. That's all I have to say...:) Tamara

  2. I agree Rob. To often "worship" has tended about "me" and "us", about what He has done for us or about what we will do, and not enough about Him and what He has done/will do - not for us.
    "It's all about you Jesus"
    I didn't know you blogged. I'll check it out more often

  3. and one of my new favorites:

    YOU make beautiful things
    you MAKE beautiful things
    out of dust

    you make BEAUTIFUL things
    you make beautiful THINGS
    out of dust

  4. Jo,

    Can we "dust" (dirt-nap, ghost) that song? :)

  5. As a long time worship dude I too have been really enjoying hymns....the themes, the chord progressions, etc. My good pal loves 'em so over the last few years we've had fun fooling around with different ones, making them current and singable.
    Yep, hymns rip.

    And don't be knocking Gungor (Beautiful Things) or else I'll launch a snowball at you. Check out their tune WHEN DEATH DIES on youtube. A beat-boxing celloist?! Seriously!?!