Friday, June 09, 2006

Knowing You

There seems to be a growing derth in meaning in many contemporary praise and worship songs. Stuff like "Looking out my window / I see the trees blowing in the breeze / Looking out my window / I see the birds flying in the sky" (Planet Shakers) doesn't really do it for me. Ugh.

Okay, so maybe it's wrong to assume that just because I can't relate to these lyrics, it's a bad song. But perhaps Christian songwriters need to do some soul-searching. After all, our source of inspiration is God, who did more than create the most majestic living artworks in the universe. Our songs should strive to capture greater depth and meaning. Yes, they can be simple, as musical and lyrical accessorising run the risk of reducing a song's purity, but we do need to be mindful of at least two dangers.

1. Being simplistic
The Bible holds many basic truths. A lot of which have been sung over and over again, reincarnating themselves in words that reflect the language of the time. The ease of using familiar themes becomes a crutch. There is no end to songs with the words 'love', 'presence', 'glory', 'grace', 'awesome'. While I'm not saying this is bad, my point is that we often just limit our expressions to these themes until it feels like a nauseating rewrite of a 1990s Church Top 40 song in the latest musical fashion. Meanwhile, the temptation to rhyme also gets in the way, as words that rhyme don't always offer the best meaning. We need to be careful that we don't dilute, or worse, twist biblical truth just so our verses end in a nice rhyme.

2. Being emo. Totally
While being emo is in, we also need to remember that we worship God with our minds too, not just until the ends of our hair stand up and our hearts are flush in a warm fuzzy frenzy. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24, NIV). Sometimes I need to be reminded of God's all-sufficient grace; His Lordship; His power; His victory over my sin and past; that He holds my future. I can't sing 'I love you Lord' when what my mind and heart really need are things like healing, comfort or forgiveness at that moment. If I need faith. If more than half the songs in a worship session mush me into a lovey dovey feeling, I think we will die a diabetic church.

If we are to write songs, let it come from the heart. Search the Bible for nuggets of untapped words, wisdom, truths. But more importantly, we need to go back to our own growth as Christians, for it is in a personal walk with God that our hearts are actually lifted up, encouraged, humbled, touched. The music and words will then flow out naturally.

Graham Kendrick

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now compared to this

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing
You're my all, You're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love You Lord

Now my heart's desire is to know You more
To be found in You and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like You in Your death, my Lord
So with You to live and never die

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