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Can we handle honesty in our song lyrics?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2011 in blog links | 6 comments

Can we handle honesty in our song lyrics?

Dan at “The Ekklesia in Southern Maine” has written a great post called “More Honest Song Lyrics.”

In the post, Dan talks about Christian song lyrics – especially lyrics for “praise and worship” songs – that don’t always express what he is feeling or what he has experienced. (Yes, he knows that I know that singing is not about how we feel or what we’ve experienced, but we also can’t separate ourselves completely from background and mental/emotional state.)

Dan even offered us an example of a song with “more honest” lyrics from his perspective. I thought this stanza was especially good:

So I am trying to be “worshipful” here God
But I’m kinda worried about what these other people think of me
I don’t want them to think I look silly
But I don’t want them to think I’m worried about what they think
Should I raise my hands Jesus?
Maybe I should at least bounce around a little to the music

The final stanza is very good also!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post along this same vein called “Singing Lies to God.” I wonder what would happened if we sang songs that truly expressed our hearts, our attitudes, our motives, and our desires, even when we were not “spiritual”… Sometimes I think secular music may be more honest than much of the music that’s called “Christian.”


6 Comments

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  1. 4-19-2011

    Alan, I see what you are getting at. But surely the task of a worship leader is, or includes, inspiring the congregation to look higher and to genuinely express the sentiments of praise and adoration in the song. This may not be achieved optimally by some of the over-confident songs popular in our churches. But not will it be achieved by songs full of negativity and self-doubt like Dan’s.

  2. 4-19-2011

    Peter,

    I think that we should all help one another grow in maturity toward Christ. Singing songs that do not reflect our current state can be beneficial as long as we recognize them for what they are. I also think that songs that do reflect our current state (such as Dan’s) can also be beneficial. In either case, they are most beneficial when the church discusses these lyrics together and helps one another grow toward maturity as disciples of Jesus Christ.

    -Alan

  3. 4-20-2011

    One of the joys of my life as a Christian has been to sing secular love songs to God in my car while listening to the radio. I haven’t done this in awhile, but past times have been some of the most precious moments of fellowship ever….many of them God has “sung” back to me. Expressing love to God can take many forms. I believe in singing from the heart. Sometimes I sing my own words to a song in church that more accurately reflect my heart. I just make them up. Nobody notices except God and me.

  4. 4-20-2011

    Peter

    I think I can agree that we should “look higher and genuinely express the sentiments of praise and adoration” to God. I think a big part of that is seeing ourselves for who we are and where we are. Empty promises to God may encourage us to feel a false sense of righteousness. The reality, as I’m sure you would agree, is that we are unworthy and undeserving of his grace and mercy (thus making those parts of his character even more amazing), and many times our minds wander when we pray, sing, or read Scripture, so whether we clearly voice those wanderings or not is irrelevant, since they are there nonetheless. This is based on my experience and may not be the experience of others. I pray to God about my self-doubt and sometimes negative attitude, why should I not sing about it?

    Also, You have brought up the issue of the “worship” leader, but that isn’t really implicit in Alan’s post or mine, I was never making any point specifically about corporate singing, just about singing to God in general. I certainly wouldn’t pray lies, I just wonder if it is ok to sing them? Maybe a better approach is for our songs to focus on God’s glory and character and not so much on our responses and feelings toward Him unless the expression of those responses and feelings is honest demonstrating His greatness compared to our weakness, poverty, and foolishness. I think Paul talked about that somewhere.

    Thanks

    Dan

  5. 4-20-2011

    Lisa,

    Some performers/bands write lyrics that are especially appropriate. I really like some of Linkin Park’s lyrics.

    Dan,

    Thanks for bringing up the difference between “singing in your heart” (which seems to be the NT focus) and corporate singing. I had not been thinking about that distinction.

    -Alan

  6. 11-10-2013

    i totally agree with what youre saying alan…honestly im kinda tired of singing “worship songs” when really im depressed, just coming out of a relationship which i thot was great until she broke it off, just fired from a job my whole life was depending on to survive, when i just lost a friend, an opportunity, or im struggling with and addiction im not willing to let go, or im dealing with unforgivness and bitterness…i just feel there is a lot of pretense in the body and i really believe in singing songs that describe and applaud God, but the liturgy should be a journey…not ramblings…God knows our hearts in the end…so we cant fake it :)