Monday, December 24, 2007

_IT_ came upon a midnight clear

See for words.

The lyrics were written written by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Weston, Massachusetts. Rev. Sears was a graduate of Union College and Harvard Divinity School.

The lyrics aren't about Jesus. They're about the message of Peace presented by the angels.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More sloppy theology

Hallelujah (Your Love Makes Me Sing)

by Brenton Brown, Brian Doerksen

Every time I see you, all your goodness shines through
And I can feel this God song, rising up in me

Who has seen God?

"God song, rising up in me" ?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies

The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies of St. Stephen University, St. Stephen, New Brunswick, is trying to tackle the problem of producing contemporary songs with deep theological content.

I must admit the the "E-word" in their name raises hackles for me. But they're worth watching (and hopefully benefiting from).

John Stackhouse is not in love with Jesus!

Dr. John Stackhouse explains here.
HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Interview With DA Carson on Worship.

Here are some nuggets [each taken out of context] from an interview of DA Carson, PhD, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The entire interview with a followup series of email is available here.

I would abolish forever the notion of a 'worship leader'. If you want to have a 'song leader' who leads part of the worship, just as the preacher leads part of the worship, that's fine. But to call the person a 'worship leader' takes away the idea that by preach­ing, teaching, listening to and devour­ing the word of God, and applying it to our lives, we are somehow not worshipping God.
And because it is not only adoration of God and confession and so on, but indoctrination-that is, teaching one another-it needs to be biblically true. A great number of con­temporary choruses are impressionistic rather than contentful. You don't come away having learnt a great deal. There are some exceptions, but on the whole that is true and we just have to work harder at this.
My mother died of Alzheimer's disease, over nine years. Nine or ten months before she died, you'd get a small flicker from the eyes or squeeze of the hand if you held up pictures of her grandchildren. Six months before she died, if you sang an old hymn like 'Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine', you'd get a squeeze. Or a quote from the King James Version that she'd been brought up on. That was about the last thing that produced any response in her. The most deeply embedded memories in that decaying brain were those old hymns and memorised Scripture. There is some­thing worrying to me about a genera­tion that sings choruses that won't last more than five years. There's not much memorization of Scripture, and there's not much memorization of doctrinally profound hymns. I want to see that reborn. Nobody's going to die remembering 'He's a great big wonderful God'.

HT: Jason Taylor's Between Two Worlds

Monday, July 9, 2007

Consumer Soteriology

We Believe In God
(Amy Grant/Wes King)

Note the couplet:

If you believe in God / if you say you need Jesus
He'll be where you are / and He will never leave you

So much for faith and repentance!

Why do we "need" Jesus?

We believe in God / and we all need Jesus
'Cause life is hard / and it might not get easier
I guess I might have trouble meriting heaven by myself, so I need help of some sort from Jesus. In this song, is he my savior, or my example or friend or therapist or life coach or what??

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More links

Here's another blogger (Excogitating Engineer) who seems to have a similar interest in the critical analysis of song lyrics.

Disappointingly, Excogit's approach seems to be just to post the words that offend him more than giving an analysis. Nevertheless, I find his posts valuable (so I can thank providence that I've never had to suffer through those songs during a worship service).

Monday, April 9, 2007

A theological nuance, but it's the difference between our faith's being man-centered and God-centered.

Thanks to M.R.H. for his comment under my recent post One Church's Report Card
He quotes from Bob Kauflin at length about Above All. Although there are several things he likes about the song, Kauflin has two serious misgivings:

But two parts bother me, both near the end of the song.

The first is the line "you took the fall." It seems like an understated way of describing what Jesus did. Not wrong, but not the best.

The other problem is the line, "and thought of me above all."

I have no question that Jesus loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). But he didn't think of me "above all." Jesus went to the cross to satisfy God's righteous judgment against a sinful humanity. He thought of his Father's holiness, justice, and glory above all. It may seem like a theological nuance, but it's the difference between our faith being man-centered and God-centered. I don't think that's what the writers intended, but I think it could cause some confusion in people's minds. Besides, I think we have other songs that better articulate Jesus died for because he loved us and for his Father's glory. [Paragraphing and formatting by Corner Creature].

Do the words we sing in worship matter to God?

Bob Kauflin over on his very good blog has recently posted about Singing the Psalms in Worship . He begins his post with

Do the words we sing in worship matter to God? More than most of us realize. What we sing teaches us, shapes us, molds us, and affects us.

Recommended reading by 10th Presby in Philly

Sunday, April 8, 2007

One Church's Report Card

Thanks to Scott Klusendorf's comment (#31) to Dr. Veith's post on Bathos, we are referred to a "Report Card" of songs and hymns published by Trinity Evangelical Church of Ft. Wayne, IN.

Interestingly, one song which I absolutely loathe, they give an A- to Above All. The song makes a great start

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

But right at the climax of the song, it goes from a Christ exalting anthem to a solipsistic mess:

Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

Excuse me??? Jesus thought of ME above all???? I displaced God The Father from his mind??? What doggerel!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Awesome's Songwriter Never Intended It For Worship Services!

Comment #49, by Rebellious Pastor's Wife, notes that songwriter Rich Mullins "never intended this song [Our God Is An Awesome God] to be the 'praise song of the '80's and '90's.' He absolutely hated what it became. When he used the word awesome, he meant the true meaning of the word "fills with awe" not "cool or wow" like in Valley girl/surfer slang. He never intended the song to be a worship song. He meant for people to enjoy listening to it.

Ancient Words [transitive verb without object]...

Here's a comment to Veith's post by Lars Walker:

I'm not sure what the title is, but mine's a praise song with the words, "Ancient words, long preserved..." It includes the classic line: "O let the ancient words impart."

Impart what? "Impart" is a transitive verb! You've got to impart something, be it only banality or or beigeness or hyperglycemia! Nothing just sits there and imparts.

Pathetic writing.

Heart of Worship... ?making up for wrongs???

Brant E. DeBrow comments about Veith's post:

Thats an easy one for me too: Heart of Worship. See if you can spot anything that is even worshipful about this song. In addition, it acts as though we are doing God a favor by worshipping Him, and perhaps even making up for wrongs by doing it properly.

When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the things I've made it
When it's all about You
All about You, Jesus

King of endless worth, no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor, all I have is Yours
Every single breath

Posted by: Brant

God Will Find Me When I Praise Him[!]

Here is one of the comments to Veith's post. It is by "Theresak" whose blog can be reached here.

You've brought up the one good thing about CCM and praise songs: they are usually good at making people stop and think about what words just came out of their mouths. Unfortunately, they are also good at misleading the uncatechized soul.

My favorite bad song? That's easy! It's the song that provided me with the straw that broke the back of my evangelical camel:When I Praise by FFH

Here's the lyrics:

Lookin' for love and I lost my way
Another long night has turned to day
Nobody likes to feel this way
So I draw close to you
It's what I'm supposed to do

Lookin' for love and I close my eyes
I run to you with no disguise
You hold me close and say "it's fine"
You take me in your arms
And you soothe this heart of mine

And I throw my hands up in the air
Here's my heart 'cause I don't care-
What they say about me, I gotta praise
I throw my hands up in the air
'Cause I know that You will find me there
Find me when I praise

Lookin' for love and I hide my face(Lookin' for love and I hide my face)
What about the scars and disgrace(Should I hide my disgrace)
But You meet me there in spite of my shame
Your blood covers it all
And You carry me away

The "ear worm" for me was the line that says God will find me when I praise Him. It played in my head over and over, but this stupid voice in my head (my junior high catechized self, I suppose) kept saying, "That makes no sense. God can only find you if you praise Him?" I think "When I Praise" is a perfect illustration of the lie of evangelicalism: that we affect our own salvation. There are many other evangelical anthems, but this one is a great symbol for me.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A stab in the dark.

I have sought in vain a forum for the criticism of theological shortcomings of the lyrics of hymns and songs used in worship services.

This was inspired by a posting on Gene Edward Veith's Cranach Blog about his Most Hated Song.

Dr. Veith takes issue with Our God is an Awesome God.