I wrote some very average lyrics in the 1970′s, to put it charitably. Our contemporary Christian band Selah recorded some of my songs, and I cringe when listening to some of them. Seriously, what 14 year old kid would not be able to come up with “Jesus died for you and me, gave His life on Calvary…” or something equally genius given a couple minutes? (On a related note, I admire a certain Reformed theologian who referred to certain hymns as ‘lighter’ rather than ‘trite, silly, and embarrassing’, terms others have used to describe certain of them).
I’m in a circle with a few hundred other worship leaders/directors on Google+. One of them blogged recently, bemoaning the state of worship music, and posted a link to a song they had penned. My expectations were high… but I was bitterly disappointed. So how to respond?
Should our worship music be viewed primarily as theological truth set to music? Or is it creative art, combining truth and beauty into songs that are exponentially more powerful and affecting because of the strength of each element? Consider the songs that move you to the most sincere and heartfelt worship – and see if you don’t find that generally they excel on all counts.
Might I gently suggest that some of us don’t understand the criteria for separating the wheat from the chaff.
Might I hasten to add it is legitimate to suggest that no individual, least of all yours truly, has any business suggesting to the church at large which songs should be locked in a musical Pandora’s box, and which should be compiled in a jewel-encrusted tome for us to revere, preserve, and sing from week to week.
Though there is no definitive, absolute word on this subject, let’s consider together some relevant thoughts:
God is the ultimate Creator, the One responsible for the breathtaking beauty and wonder that surrounds us. We are created in His image, and He has put it in our hearts to reflect this creativity. Whether we build, or write, paint, or direct a drama, there is an undefinable something in our minds and hearts that drives us to do it well – to excel, to create something of lasting beauty and quality.
Of all the arts, we know music will have a prominent place in the eternal worship and enjoyment of God Himself. It seems unlikely we will be singing poorly written, theologically questionable songs in eternity (could this be a deliberate understatement?) – rather, we would expect the music to be full of truth and beauty, rich and bursting with meaning, and perhaps to have added elements, wild and wonderful, that cause our hearts to overflow with joy, that are not available or even conceivable to us at the present time.
Last, our music is written to extol our majestic, awe-inspiring, self-sacrificing God. Does it seem proper or even admissible to settle for humdrum, second rate ditties for and about Him?