Charismatic choruses are often criticized for various reasons. Sometimes they are criticized for being "boringly repetitive," just singing the same words over and over. But really isn’t that what Christians throughout the centuries have called meditation? We take a brief thought or portion from Scripture and we mull it over in our minds, contemplating, turning it over, repeating truth to ourselves until it becomes part of our being.
In this way charismatic choruses can function as meditative exercises, provided the content of the chorus is worth meditating on! This is where charismatic choruses are often legitimately criticized: the theology contained therein is often questionable and the content is often shallow. Simon Chan suggests that for choruses to effectively encourage devotional meditation they should concentrate on three areas:
- Key portions of Scripture, so that they can be meditated on and memorized
- The great mysteries of the faith–God the Trinity, creation and redemption–for they constitute the basic facts of the Christian story
- Key expressions of the faith–the creed, the commandments and the Lord’s Prayer–which make up the main content of ancient and modern catechisms.
"These key concepts and expressions must be skillfully distilled into ‘ready-to-eat mouthfuls of different sizes, never too large and suited to any taste.’ If the church as a colony of bees is to gather quality honey, it has to feed on the right flowers."*
I won’t mention any choruses I find weak and/or dubious, but I will mention one songwriter whose choruses I find consistently reflect deep content, solid theology, and a rich faith: Matt Redman. Incidentally this is why we have tended to do so many of his songs at Heartland. They are simple, relatively easy to sing, and worth repeating and meditating on.
So let that be a call to all the songwriters and poets out there! We need choruses from which we can drink deeply and be refreshed and encouraged. We need the "right kind of flowers" to be able to make the quality honey the world needs.
* Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology, p. 166.