Very funny post at Stuff Christians Like regarding overdone and maddening worship songs (via Think Christian). Much as many the tunes to many traditional hymns leave me trying to stay awake or reaching out for the Prozac, and much as their words mean I need a concordance (maybe not so bad a thing), it set me off thinking about some of the daft lyrics and actions associated with worship songs and choruses. I’m not touching on the ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ phenomenon, but here are some easy targets:
Actions: I don’t want to be treated like I’m in Sunday School. So having to run on the spot or wave my arms during ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower’ – no thanks. Nor the down to my knees and up in the air during ‘Lord, I lift your name on high’- if I want a Mexican wave, I’ll go to a sporting event. Besides, I’ve heard too many worship leaders play the intro to that song just like Steve Miller’s ‘The Joker’. One day, I’m going to hear someone singing in worship, ‘Some call me the space cowboy’. It might be me.
And please, no having to put my hands together and flap them like a bird during ‘The power of your love’, when it comes to the line about ‘I’ll fly like an eagle’. My five-year-old and three-year-old do this. I’m forty-eight.
Words: Where do I begin? Much as I like Delirious?, I can’t get my head around the imagery at the beginning of ‘I could sing of your love forever’. ‘Over the mountains and the sea, your river runs with love for me’ – just tell me how a river can run over the sea. Can’t say I’ve ever seen it. And I’m no dancer, so ‘Oh, I feel like dancing’ – well, actually, no. God bless you if you do. Just don’t ask me as one friend did once whether the Lord has released me in dance. Sorry, I’m an introvert; I know that’s a sin, and I’m getting help. (Not really.)
Or there’s plain biblical sloppiness. Pride of place goes here to Robin Mark’s ‘Days of Elijah’. ‘These are the days of your servant David, rebuilding a temple of praise’. Well, David may have been ‘the sweet psalmist of Israel’, but God forbade him to build the temple, because he was a man of blood. Solomon got the gig.
Then there are songs where biblical material is taken over without translation to our culture. If we just quote the Authorised Version or an obscure bit of the Old Testament, that will be deep. Step forward that old favourite, ‘Pierce my ear’ (or ‘Lacerate my nose’, as a friend dubbed it).
Plus there are the ones where a little more thought could have been given to their writing. Ishmael had an old song about God giving us various body parts to use for his praise. Nice idea, apart from the thought that we might look like multiple amputees without God’s help, and I just would never have picked ‘Lord you put a tongue in my mouth’ with teenagers.
I write this, aware that it’s all too easy to score points and get some cheap laughs. I also know that just as in any other period of history, we are in an editing process, and not all the drivel will survive. But the phenomenon of nonsense in worship is a serious issue. Why do worship leaders and publishers let this stuff through? Once, I challenged a worship leader about this, and he said, ‘I just choose something because it works.’ Works in what sense? Sounds good, or fits into a ‘set’, like a gig, I’d suggest.
So – I invite you to post comments about the songs you think need more attention or terminal care, and why. But I’d be just as interested to have a conversation about the reasons for this, and how we might respond (apart from not choosing the stuff).