Friday, March 5, 2010

How Much Depth?

How deep do our worship songs need to be?

On one end of the spectrum are songs that are pretty but have no theological content whatsoever — they may not be about God, they may not even be true. Example: Breathe.

On the other end are songs where every phrase is packed with meaning, that are nearly a theological treatise. Example: Amazing Grace.

There are a whole lot of songs in the middle.

Some people really don't care. Some think every song sung in church needs to be on the deep end.

Of the latter, one said his church sings "music that is rich in theology, melody and lyric. As a result, most of our music consists of hymns written in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries."

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'm asking if it's necessary.

Actually, I'm saying it's not. Take this beautiful song:
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
This short and to-the-point song praises God without going into any real theological detail. It just magnifies God. Is there anything wrong with that?

If you didn't recognize it, that song is Psalm 150.

Now for a more modern song:
Lord of all creation
Of water earth and sky
The heavens are your Tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high

God of wonders beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares your Majesty
And you are holy, holy
This song doesn't have a lot of theological depth. But it magnifies God for who He is. I'm cool with that.

I love deep songs. But I don't think every song has to be one. As long as it's true, well-written, and preferably God-focused, I can live with some theologically shallow music in church.

What do you think?


Lanny said...

I have never had too many problems with worship songs. Sometimes when folks expressed their issues, I could see where they were coming from but... Until I was introduced to this one, "How He Loves". According to this song God's love is like a natural disaster, a tragedy at sea, and a bad first date (sloppy wet kiss? uck!) All the while being pretty much "me" focused, yikes. I hear it is popular, I would rather sing simple words like, "Praise Him, praise the Lord, for He is Holy" a zillion times over and over, than this other attempt at "deep".

ChrisB said...

David Crowder usually comes up with pretty good stuff, but that one is definitely the exception. Depth still has to be well-written.

Nancy said...

This makes me think of when my son was four and the Bee Gees were all the rage...He would sing loudly from his room,"Shaking alive...Shaking alive"...Sometimes the words don't quite "jive", but the joy is in the intent...*; ) God ears are far more excellent than ours, for he can always hear the heart's intent over the words!

ChrisB said...

I think some believe songs must teach rather than just express joy. I'm not sure why they think that.

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