We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Monday, November 5, 2012

Are These Really Hymns?


Yesterday at church our song leader chose a mix of older music and “contemporary” music, which isn’t unusual for him.  Usually the “contemporary” stuff he chooses is not at all problematic.  But two we sang yesterday bugged me for a couple reasons. 

First, I just didn’t like the music - which I know can be a very subjective view.  Second the lyrics were just vacuous, although probably good for making people feel good - as if that is the purpose of our praise and worship.

Let’s look at the first song, I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever.  The music for verses (?) in this one was repetitive and staccato-like while the music for the chorus was just repetitive.  But what do the lyrics say?  Here is the first verse (or “intro”):

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the Healer set me free
I'm happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when Your love came down

Just what is God’s “river”?  This is a very commonly-used term among the charismatics.   But it doesn’t make any sense.

I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever

Wow, what a chorus!  Let’s just sing that same phrase over and over while we work ourselves up into an altered state of consciousness.

The next verse (“bridge”):

Oh I feel like dancing
It's foolishness I know
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy
Like we're dancing now

I guess the lyrics are okay, although I consider them to be vacuous, especially without any real contextual lyrics in the song.  This whole song could be sung by a Hindu, Muslim, or even Buddhist.  Ah, but then we sung that chorus phrase five times!

I noticed that this song originated in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it came from the likes of a Nicky Gumbel assembly - you know, where the Alpha Course mixes with Vineyard-type signs and wonders!  These kinds of songs are indeed used in these types of assemblies to get the emotions going as the “audience” sways to and fro, with their eyes and brains glazing over so as to be ready for listening to the false teachings.

The second song was Lord, You Are So Precious to Me.  This is another one which could be sung about any “god,” as well as getting the emotions going while the eyes and brain glaze over.

Lord, You are so precious to me,
Lord, You are so precious to me,
And I love You,
Yes, I love You,
Because You first loved me.

Lord, You are so gracious to me,
Lord, You are so gracious to me,
And I love You,
Yes, I love You,
Because You first loved me.

These types of songs are just fine for people to listen to on the radio, or on their CD player or IPOD, etc.  But I really don’t think these are suitable for corporate worship.

Please, music leaders, make your selections say something real; make them about more than feeling good.  And perhaps pick something where the writer of the lyrics actually shows talent!

9 comments:

Steve Bricker said...

A couple of weeks ago, I heard someone being interviewed who said that the difference between a ditty and a hymn is that the former makes you feel good, but the latter does the heavy lifting needed in worship.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Wow, that is good!

ali said...

AMEN AND AMEN.!!!!!!!.

Anonymous said...

It is disturbing when worship to God turns into worship of 'we'.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. There is no theological content to these songs, and many like them. And they are mainly centered on the singer and the singer's emotions. I don't like them in any context, but especially for in the Church.
I just read a really good three part series of articles by Gary Gilley on entertainment. I highly recommend them. I think he hits the nail on the head.
Here's part one, with links to the other parts at the bottom of the page.

http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/21-church-trends/81-entertainment-part-1

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I met Garry Gilley at the 2002 St. Louis Conference on Biblical Discernment, and he has been at every one since (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012). Gilley is one of my favorite teachers and I subscribe to his "Think on These Things" apologetics letter, as well as having gotten all the back issues in 2002.

You are correct about Gilley's excellent articles on this subject. Thanks for posting that link of everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Praise Songs explained...

Not long ago a farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses," said his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.

""Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well it's like this - If I were to say to you:

`Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

`Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN,'

Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Yes, but who and what are they praising?!?!

Drew said...

I hated that first song twelve years ago when it first came out, and I still hate it today. "OH I FEEL LIKE DANCING." What trash. Yeah, it is indeed foolishness, I know.