Those of you who pop onto my blog now and then know that my last post was a brief, strongly-worded rant on what is wrong with Christian radio. And while I still maintain that Jesus is not a hamburger, and I still won’t listen to Christian radio, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I don’t think there is good music out there being made by Christians. Thus I want to highlight a couple people I think are doing a great job at the specific job of writing songs for congregational worship. (See? I can be positive!!)
In the realm of songwriting for worship, there are a few bright spots amidst a sea of blah. This paragraph from a recent novel is painfully accurate regarding modern worship songs. The protagonist is a semi-atheist who has planted a church to make him rich and famous (funny plotline already). Up until now they’ve been just taking normal pop songs and changing a few words. But then they discover that there are people who write music for specifically for worship. Katherine, the "pastor’s" wife, has looked into this and is reporting to the worship band (also not Christians) about this newfound piece of information:
"… almost all of the
songs were essentially about three things. The first: how
great-awesome-incredible-powerful-majestic Jesus/God is/was/and forever
will be. The second: how much we love-thank-adore-worship-bow down to Jesus/God. The third: how happy-touched-amazed and pumped up we were
that Jesus/God saved us. That was pretty much it. There were thousands
of these types of songs, yet so many of the lyrics were nearly
identical. It was almost as if a songwriter could take one song, change
five or six words, and then have an all-new song." (ht: marko)
Admit it! Sometimes you’ve thought that when singing a new worship song, haven’t you?
Anyway, the point is that there is a lot of mediocre stuff out there, but there are people writing great music for worship out there. Music that forms us as disciples instead of consumers, music that inspires instead of sugar-coats. Music that has us singing faithful words of worship, that doesn’t resort to sentimentality or pendantry.
Two people who come to mind immediately are Matt Redman and Stuart Townend. Most of you know about Matt Redman, but perhaps fewer know about Stuart. Mr. Townend wrote the incredibly faithful (and popular) hymn "In Christ Alone", as well as "Beautiful Savior." And tomorrow morning I plan to lead the Heartland congregation in one of his newer songs (cowritten with Aaron Keyes) called Psalm 62 (based on Psalm 62,
The lyrics are below, but when you hear the melody, this thing really takes off. And it’s not just that it’s a good song, but it’s a faithful song, a song that calls us into its description of God, that pulls us further into the life of God, that forms us as the people of God. It’s a song you can sing loudly, confidently, because it faithfully reflects the character and ways of the Living God.
Stuart Townend and Aaron Keyes
My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me.
O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.
Find rest, my soul, in God alone amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go, Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow are harvested in heaven.
I’ll set my gaze on God alone, and trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul, and He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath, a sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death and I am His forever.