Monthly Archives: May 2011

Is That Southern Gospel? (Part II, because I felt like it)

Here’s the second part of my thoughts/ramblings on what southern gospel is and isn’t. (Part I here.) Except this part is really a cogitation on the difference between the label “CCM” and the label “SG.”

Contemporary Christian Music is such a vague umbrella term that it can encompass every sound and style of music, as long as it is (or claims to be) “Christian” in some way. Though it’s getting harder to tell what that’s even supposed to mean, especially when you look at the albums Christianity Today seems to consider as falling in that category. But even if we grant, for the moment, that the music is generally coming from a Christian perspective, it can be rock, pop, heavy metal, light jazz, or folk and still be called CCM.

This isn’t true for southern gospel music, because that label is pin-pointing a very specific style and sound. Granted, there is flex room for influences from other styles. Perhaps there’s a jazz piano or a bluegrass fiddle, or perhaps a song has a country or pop flare. But too much borrowing can lead away from “southern gospel music” pretty quickly. Sort of like Garth Brooks and country music. (Though whatever you want to call him, he’s pretty darn good.) I’m not saying that this means we should find a new label, I’m just pointing it out as a matter of curiosity.

So what are some key characteristics of the “true southern gospel sound?” Well, there’s a certain male quartet sound that could really only be described as southern gospel. It’s very hearty and expressive, completely different from the barbershop quartet. There’s also the convention sound, which can display itself in the piano or in vocal harmonies. It doesn’t get much more southern gospel than an old convention song. I could give numerous examples, but “Give the World a Smile” is coming to mind as one perfect example.

It seems like that’s only the tip of the iceberg though. I could keep rambling to try to express what I’m getting at, but I think I’ll let you guys pick up the conversation from here. Feel free to be verbose.

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Filed under Music Commentary

What Did He Die For?

That’s a good question. Happy Memorial Day:

 

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Filed under Great Music, Songs

A Little More Scotty McCreery…

Yes, yes, I know. I already posted a video of Scotty the other day. Indulge me a little, ‘k? This might be my favorite of his mainstage performances. (Though he sure made it tough. )

Better than George Strait? You decide. (Very sweet movie scene, by the way):

Scotty definitely made it his own, no question about that. His voice is deeper, though I think Strait is a little smoother. I would still give Strait the edge, but both versions are beautiful.

McCreery has loads of potential and IMO already deserves to be counted among the best country singers out there. He’s poised to become this generation’s Randy Travis. I’d say at this point the main thing he should work on is smoothing out his upper register. The judges pointed out that he does tend to fall off his high notes a little. But that sort of thing should just improve naturally with more practice and experience. The kid is 17 for crying out loud!

By the way, I had to pick a nit with the fact that some people are calling him a “bass singer.” Clearly they have never listened to any southern gospel basses. Scotty is quite obviously a baritone with an extended lower register. :)

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Meet Your New American Idol

Folks, I present Scotty McCreery. Yes, I am hooked. How about you?

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Country Music: Yea or Nay…or Both?

Country music can get a bad rap in some southern gospel circles. When Sarah Palin described southern gospel as “sort of like country” at the NQC, people were just dying with embarrassment (even though I think that’s a perfectly natural thing to say given the interplay and musical similarities between the genres). Although some listeners and many artists have expressed appreciation for the genre, the wrinkled nose seems to be a rather common reaction.

I think perhaps that’s because country music is viewed by certain SG fans as an unsavory genre. And to be honest, it can be, which is why I don’t listen to my local country station. But it doesn’t have to be. Moreover, while a lot of country songs really are just lachrymose and/or bitter meditations on lost love, it would be unfair to paint the whole genre with that brush either.

A new country album just came out yesterday, and the title track/lead single is called “This is Country Music.” It attempts to capture in a single song everything that country music is about. The artist is one of my favorite country singers, Brad Paisley. Not all his songs are equally appropriate, and I feel like he’s lost the thread over the last couple albums he’s done, but I enjoy this song. I thought it might be fun to talk about it on a southern gospel blog.

This is the first stanza:

Well, you’re not suppose to say the word “cancer”
In a song.
And tellin’ folks that Jesus is the answer
Can rub ‘em wrong.
It ain’t hip to sing about
Tractors, trucks, little towns
Or mama. Yeah, that might be true.
But this is country music,
And we do.

Already, some signature traits of country music have been identified. For one thing, it’s heavily rooted in the story-song. It tells stories about family and sometimes the heartbreak of losing a loved one. But right up front, something else is stated quite plainly—the recognition and affirmation of Christianity. Country music goes places other genres aren’t interested in, and that includes “tellin’ folks that Jesus is the answer.” Paisley himself claims to be a Christian, and you can find Christian themes in more than one of his songs, which goes for many other country singers as well.

So far, so good. But some may balk at the next stanza:

Do you like to drink a cold one on the weekends,
And get a little loud?
Do you wanna say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you”
But you don’t know how?
And do you wish somebody had the nerve
To tell that stupid boss o’yours
To shove it next time he yells at you?
Well, this is country music,
And we do.

All right. Now, I’m sure many people would be shocked and offended by this, but for some reason it just makes me suppress a grin. Let me hasten to assure my readers that I do not like to “drink a cold one” and party over the weekend. But I’m trying to look at the overall message that’s being conveyed here, and to me, it’s appealing. Who hasn’t tried to say “I’m sorry” or “I love you,” but found the words sticking in his throat? Who hasn’t worked a job where you really do wish the boss would get what was coming to him? (Note: If you sing in a southern gospel group, consider this non-applicable to that particular job, because I’m hoping/assuming that you get along with your boss!!) The point is that country music relates to people wherever they are at, and it offers companionship:

Chorus

So turn it on,
And turn it up.
And sing along.
This is real.
This is your life
In a song.
Yeah, this is country music.

“This is your life in a song.” That’s fascinating to ponder, because it can mean so many things, both good and bad. When you look in a mirror, you might not like what you see…but it’s the honest truth. That’s the key word here: Honesty.

This is where a certain kind of southern gospel fan might say, “But if country music is talking about us all the time, then how can that have any connection to God?” Well, first of all, this song states early on that Jesus is the answer, so it would be incorrect to say that country is a godless genre. Nevertheless, there can be a tendency in country to focus on the problems without providing any kind of hope to answer them. And some country music seems to revel in a self-pleasing lifestyle where God is out of the picture. That’s the bad side of it. It’s real, and it’s out there, and I don’t just want to make fun of the people who point it  out.

But there’s a good side too, and I think you hear that in my favorite verse:

Are you haunted by the echo of your mother
On the phone,
Cryin’ as she tells you that your brother
Is not comin’ home?
Well, if there’s anyone that still has pride
In the memory of those that died
Defending the ol’ red, white and blue,
This is country music,
And we do.

Just to preempt potential rabbit trails, this is not the place to debate over whether Christians can be patriotic. I trust that most of us love our country (while readily admitting she has many flaws) and would agree that this verse is saying something valuable and important. We instinctively feel a rush of emotions when we think about the sacrifices that have been made to preserve this nation, and we feel an ache in our hearts when we hear stories of fallen soldiers. I believe that these instincts are God-given. We can see and feel God in something beautiful and true. The pride we feel in this nation and in the memory of our soldiers’ sacrifice is really gratitude for something beautiful that God has given to us.

This is where a kind of music that tells real-life stories can have value to it. It has value when it re-connects us with our humanity and helps us find God in the process, even when God’s name is not specifically mentioned. I see God in a cross and an empty tomb, but I also see God standing by the woman dying from cancer, the farmer toiling and sweating to harvest his crop, and the mother weeping for a son who will never come home.

So the next time you hear “gospel” and “country” in the same sentence, consider that the association might not be all bad after all.


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Behind the Song…with Dianne Wilkinson: “Where’s John?”

Last week, a lot of us got a good laugh at “Camping and crew” over the fact that they predicted the Second Coming on May 21st, and of course nothing happened on May 21st. But at the same time, we should recognize the sadness of what was going on there. Not only were many poor people fooled into giving up their livelihoods, Camping and his followers only gave more fuel to the fire of those who mock the idea of a Second Coming entirely. While it’s certainly true that no man can presume to know the day or the hour, we should still be sober and vigilant, knowing that Jesus surely will come.

Dianne Wilkinson recently penned a song on this very topic, and she was gracious enough to answer some questions about it for the blog.  It’s called “Where’s John?” and it has generated very positive critical reactions despite its chilling subject matter: The song is written in the first person from the perspective of a man who’s been left behind in the last days, searching for a brother named John who (we realize) has been carried away in the Rapture. The speaker says John was always warning him that one day Jesus would return, but he only laughed in his brother’s face. Now there are “open graves everywhere,” John is missing, and the speaker is slowly realizing the horrible truth of what awaits him. Most southern gospel songs leave the listener with some sort of pleasant feeling inside, but this is one fascinating exception!

Besides being interested in the song itself, I was curious about the fact that Arthur Rice had recorded the demo, since Terry Franklin always does Dianne’s demos. Read on for her intriguing answer to that question as well.

yankeegospelgirl: How did you come up with this fresh lyrical idea for a southern gospel song? Was there any specific inspiration?

Dianne: I wasn’t even thinking about writing…this song started coming to me, as many do, lyrics and music.  It only took about 20 minutes to finish, and I made no changes.

yankeegospelgirl: How did the music evolve? Did it come right along with the lyrics?

Dianne: The melody started in the minor key, and it seemed right just to keep it there, given the way the song turned out.

yankeegospelgirl: How did the Kingdom Heirs come to record it? I understand that Arthur picked it up after doing the demo.

Dianne: That is really a God thing. The young man who did the track on this suggested to my publisher that they send it to Arthur for the demo, and Arthur has never demo’d one of my songs before or since. When he sent it in, that’s when I realized Jeff was singing the bass feature (Arthur was doing all the other vocals). Well, I didn’t think the Kingdom Heirs would ever do this song, but I sent it to Steve French so he could hear what a great job Arthur and Jeff did. He contacted me immediately to put the song on hold, and was very excited about it. He thought it had a message the world needs to hear. Of course, I did, too…but I thought it would be difficult to get it recorded. I’m so glad the Kingdom Heirs did.

yankeegospelgirl: This has been described as “one of the creepiest songs in SG,” but in an approving way. What’s your reaction?

Dianne: Well, it’s certainly different.  It’s dark, and imagery is one of a young man’s growing terror after being left behind at the Rapture…separated from his brother.  So I expected people to react to it differently than probably anything I’ve ever written before.  It will be interesting to see how it’s received before live audiences.  My prayer is that it will find lodging in the hearts of lost people who come to a concert, or go into the Kingdom Heirs theater at Dollywood, and cause them to come to Christ before it’s TOO LATE.

yankeegospelgirl: Thank you very much!

I hope this will not be the last “behind the song” feature I get to do on this blog. Thanks to Dianne for taking the time to let us in on the song-writing process here!

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Filed under Behind the Songs, Interviews, Songs

No, not the best man I know…

One of my favorite works of Christian literature is A Man For All Seasons. I think every Christian who appreciates excellence and beauty mixed with truth should obtain a copy of this play, based on the life and death of Thomas More. It’s written by Robert Bolt. It’s not a long read, and it’s incredibly well written. I highly recommend it if you have yet to read it. There are many great moments of dialogue, but one of the most profound things More himself wrote actually never made it into the play. He said “I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know.”

Christians talk a lot, and rightly so, about the idols of the world. We look around us and see people exalting all manner of things where Jesus Christ ought rightfully to be lifted up instead. And sometimes they are other people. We call them celebrities. But I think Christians can be guilty of the very same thing. I’ve seen a secular news outlet describe one pastor as being “like a rock star,” and it disturbs me to think that perhaps many of his fans would not feel the slightest misgiving over that connotation. It is a tragic thing that many pastors in the Church today are deliberately cultivating a style of preaching and a style of “theology” designed to win over more and more such “fans.”

But the point I’d like to make today is that idolatry doesn’t have to be this obvious or this dangerous. In fact, it may start very innocently and naturally. We all have those favorite singers and preachers who seem to be strong men of God, whom we deeply respect and admire. We spend a lot of time listening to and thinking carefully about what they have to say, because we think we can just see God’s light shining through and from them.

This is where Thomas More’s words become applicable. The sad truth is that because man is fallen, we may try as hard as we can to place our trust somewhere secure, but we are not always borne out in our judgment. Does this mean we should suspect everybody and trust no one man more than another? Absolutely not. God gave us discernment and common sense for a reason, and it is a good thing to take wisdom from those leaders he has blessed. But, we must remember where our hope must ultimately lie, and it lies not with any mortal man, no, not the best man we know.

Paul Washer is a preacher I’ve been learning to respect very much lately, but he himself warns against this very kind of thing. The clip I’ll share with you today contains a lot of wisdom on the topic, and I’d encourage you to watch it through. It’s from an interview that was taped a couple years ago where he answered questions people had sent in. As a Christian, I feel convicted by the complete honesty and humility I see here. (Note: The last couple of minutes are related to a side question and aren’t as pertinent as the rest of the video, although excellent for what they do address.)

My favorite part might be 11:45 to roughly 13:00, when he talks about his greatest fear as a minister.

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Filed under Devotional Thoughts, Faith and Culture, Faith and Theological Ramblings, Surprise Sunday

R. I. P Maria Sue Chapman

Three years ago today, a little girl died because her big brother didn’t see her coming.

She needed help getting onto the monkey bars, and there he was, driving home. Twenty-four hours later, many people’s lives had changed forever.

Several different people definitely not given to “seeing things” would independently tell her family that they saw an angel take her into his arms.

I’m speaking of course about the daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman. I first heard the news on the radio. I knew who Steven Curtis Chapman was because I’d heard and liked a few of his songs, especially “Cinderella,” which was already a successful single (though it would obviously have much more success after the accident). So when the DJ announced the tragedy and then proceeded to play the song again, which, he remarked, “had new meaning” now, I was shattered. I wept all the way through the song, then literally ran into my closet, because the horror of it all was overcoming me, and I knew that I had to begin praying for this family.

For about a year, God placed this family’s pain on my heart in an intense way. I thought about and prayed for them constantly. It was difficult to do so without weeping. Meanwhile, I learned about who they were. I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman’s music and realized I had missed a lot. I learned that Maria was adopted, which led me to learn about their heart for orphans. Later I would watch the progress of the “Big House” they built in China for disabled orphans to receive the care they needed, in honor of Maria. And day and night, I kept praying.

But I remember wondering whether my prayers did any good. I knew there were numerous other people around the world praying with me, and that helped, but anyone could see that Steven and his family were completely broken. I knew that no matter how hard we prayed, we could not take away the crushing pain. When they would tell us that they could feel our prayers, in my heart I wondered what that really meant. But they were absolutely serious. They said that without our prayers they did not know where they would be.

The thing that stays with me the most is their incredible dignity under all that they went through. I remember wincing when I saw Good Morning America literally come into their home mere months later and do an interview with the parents and the older kids. They were so gracious in answering the reporter’s questions, even though I could not possibly imagine what they were going through on the inside. Later they did an interview on Larry King Live that was even more painful to watch. But it was also inspiring because their faith was still so obvious and so strong. I believe Larry was truly taken aback by what he saw in that family.

Today I want to honor them by playing Steven’s 2009 Dove Awards performance of “Cinderella.” This was a little less than a year after the accident. Prepare to be moved:

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From Young Southern Gospel Fans to the Artists

Daniel Mount has written an open letter to southern gospel artists from young fans of the genre. Like him, I am a young fan, and I’ve addressed and will continue to address the points he made  here on this blog. They are good points, and I will gladly be one of the co-signers he has called for.

I thought that I would elaborate on some of them in my own post, if my readers don’t mind. This was Daniel’s first point: “Recognize and retain what makes Southern Gospel unique musically.” I agree. Could we imagine southern gospel without the male quartet? The family harmony? The distinctive southern gospel piano?

At the same time (and I don’t know whether or not Daniel would agree with me here), I happen to like a lot of different kinds of music. I love southern gospel, but I also love CCM, country, jazz, etc… when it’s good, of course! So even while I heartily agree that it would be a disaster for southern gospel to lose its identity, I also think that an artist’s repertoire can be enriched by incorporating a wide range of sounds. Signature Sound provides a very good example of this. Much of their work isn’t really southern gospel, but guess what? It’s good music, and it works in a southern gospel setting. Ditto for Brian Free & Assurance’s forays into what I would call classic CCM. Their version of CCM isn’t what I got sick of on the radio a couple years ago. It brings back memories of the kind of CCM my radio used to play, which I actually liked.

So I’m grateful for what the traditional groups are doing, and I think we need them. At the same time, I enjoy the variety. But I think at heart, Daniel and I agree on this point.

His next point was “Recognize and retain what makes Southern Gospel unique lyrically.” I would modify this just a little to say “what makes southern gospel unique lyrically today.” Sadly, Daniel is right that other Christian music is increasingly fluffy while southern gospel is more or less holding the fort where biblical doctrine is concerned. I actually have a couple posts I have been working on to illustrate this very point, completely independently of Daniel’s post. However, in fairness, we can find a lot of CCM songs with very good lyrics. (For that matter, we can find secular songs with very good lyrics, but at the moment we’re staying in the context of Christian music.) But once again, Daniel’s core point is one I agree with, namely that CCM is becoming much more generic much faster than southern gospel, and southern gospel writers should do all they can to keep that gap.

His third point was “Recognize and retain what makes your group unique. Master and perfect it.” I couldn’t agree more. We all get tired of groups that sound the same, and that’s probably not just true for young fans. In fairness, we can find a lot of similar groups in southern gospel, but there are plenty of groups that are distinct from each other as well. Daniel went on to say to the smaller groups that they shouldn’t try to “be” a big group. This is simply good practical advice. If you want to be noticed, don’t blend in with the crowd. At the same time of course, there’s nothing wrong with a smaller group’s trying to learn from a bigger group. It could be argued that this is what happened with Signature Sound and the Gaither Vocal Band. Ernie said they learned a lot from the GVB, yet nobody can deny that they emerged with a distinctive style of their own!

“Talk to us” was Daniel’s next point, encouraging artists to take full advantage of social media. I know that I personally am drawn to artists who keep a steady line of communication with the fans, and I don’t know whether this is specifically because I am young or not. But either way, it makes sense, and it probably is especially important for young fans.

His last point stings a little: “Live the life offstage that you portray on stage.” I think that pretty much speaks for itself. But of course, it’s something that should extend to all who claim to be ministers of the gospel, southern gospel or not.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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A Tale of Two Songs: The Answer

Yesterday I conducted a little poll to see whether my readers could tell from isolated snippets whether two songs were Christian or secular. Though I didn’t get quite the response I would have liked (COUGH COUGH… just kidding ;) ), I got a nice little handful of submissions.

The majority of the votes were divided between option one (both songs are Christian) and option three (the first is Christian, the second secular), with a small percentage voting that they were both secular.

Another small percentage voted for the right answer: option four. Song one is secular, and song two is Christian.

If you’re surprised by that, I don’t blame you. Because if I hadn’t been the one setting up the competition, I probably would have been surprised too.

Let’s talk about song one first. It is called “I See You,” and it’s the theme song from the recent blockbuster film Avatar. (The singer is Leona Lewis—very talented UK “diva.”) These are the full lyrics:

I see you
I see you
Walking through a dream
I see you
My light in darkness breathing hope of new life
Now I live through you and you through me
Enchanting
I pray in my heart that this dream never ends

(Chorus)

I see me through your eyes
Living through life flying high
Your life shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
I live through your love

You teach me how to see
All that’s beautiful
My senses touch a world I never pictured
Now I give my hope to you
I surrender
I pray in my heart that this world never ends

I see me through your eyes
Living through life flying high
Your love shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life
I offer my love, for you

(Bridge)

When my heart was never open
(And my spirit never free)
To the world that you have shown me
But my eyes could not envision
All the colours of love and of life evermore
Evermore

(I see me through your eyes)
I see me through your eyes
(Living through life flying high)
Flying high
Your love shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
And live through your love
And live through your life
I see you
I see you

You don’t really have to know the story to get the gist of the song, but it’s taking off on the movie’s idea of “spiritual seeing” that the noble blue Na’vi have (and the nasty humans, of course, don’t). The two main characters will sometimes say to each other, “I see you,” which is meant to convey something “deeper” than mere physical sight. There’s a good dollop of eco-mysticism woven throughout here, with lots of “colors of the wind” type stuff (for those of you who remember Pocahontas).

But what really disturbs me about this song is the way in which the language borrows from the language of Christianity, so blatantly that most of you thought from the snippets I posted that this was a Christian song. Now, religious love language is not new. There’s a history of love poetry which attributes god or goddess-like characteristics to “the beloved.” However, most romantic poets who used that language in their work did so with a kind of mischief. There was a twinkle in their eye. They knew they were exaggerating, tongue firmly planted in cheek. But this song is different, because it takes itself very seriously. It’s the soundtrack to an epic romance. We’re supposed to feel we’ve listened to something profound when we hear it.

Let’s focus on those snippets again. First:

I see you
My light in darkness breathing hope of new life
Now I live through you and you through me

Does this imagery ring any bells? Sound a little familiar? Maybe a little too familiar? Keep in mind that this is written in the first person from the perspective of the human protagonist, who is falling in love with an alien woman. She is taking on the form of a Savior figure for him. He’s finding “new life” in her. Here’s the second snippet:

Your life shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
I live through your love

“Paradise” here refers to the beautiful, untouched world of Pandora, which is then invaded by the humans. (By the way, “heavy-handed” would be the understatement of the year as far as this film’s many and sundry liberal agendas are concerned, but we don’t have time to get into all that today.)  Christ opens the way for Christians to enter paradise, and this woman is doing the same for the speaker. The next line is the creepiest, in my opinion: “I offer my life as a sacrifice.” Yikes! This could refer to a couple of things in the story, but ultimately it probably refers to the fact that the protagonist  sacrifices his human body to become fully Na’vi at the movie’s end. Of course, we as Christians are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices,” with the small difference that we are doing so for, uh, God. “I live through your love.” Again…sound familiar? Final snippet:

Now I give my hope to you
I surrender

It’s like a twisted mash-up of “Take My Life and Let it Be” and “I Surrender All.” Charming, eh? The speaker is, essentially, placing his soul in the hands of the woman he loves. And through her he has… what? The song tells us: “Life evermore.” Life evermore. As in eternal life.

This is pernicious stuff. It is clear that the writers of this song were intentionally taking language very familiar to Western society, which is steeped in the traditions of Christianity, and using it to suit their own perverted spiritual ends. It goes beyond being just a fluffy pop song, because it’s more dangerous than that. The film it’s based on, of course, is itself pernicious (while managing to be, quite frankly, laughably bad at the same time, pretty blue eye candy or no pretty blue eye candy). It is openly pagan and shows the Na’vi worshiping Pandora’s equivalent of Gaia (Eywa), which really just is The Earth.

However, I’m not really sure which is sadder: the fact that this is a secular song, or the fact that song two really is a Christian song. It’s called “Deep in Love With You,” and it’s by Michael W. Smith. Sorry Smitty, I think you’re a good guy, and you really can write some great music when you put your mind to it, but… major thumbs down here. Now once again, let’s be clear that this is nothing new. The tradition of romanticizing man’s relationship with God goes back for centuries, and traces of it can even be found in hymns like “Jesus Lover of My Soul” and “I Will Arise and Go To Jesus.” This song even borrows the “lover of my soul” phrase at one point. However, those hymns at least boast some excellent poetry and manage to keep a strong sense of dignity about them. This one…well, doesn’t:

I’m deep in love with You, Abba Father
I’m deep in love with You, Lord
My heart, it beats for You, precious Jesus
I’m deep in love with You, Lord

“I can’t resist the tenderness of You” is another line that just about makes me want to…excuse myself. Honestly! Has Christian music sunk so low that we’re no longer capable of expressing our devotion to God beyond the level of a chick-flick script? Now, granted, if you read the lyric as a whole, you would find some doctrinal references that would clarify that it’s a song about God, not a girlfriend. However, the main thrust and the main hook could very easily be taken as such and are hopelessly shallow. Here’s a different song with the same idea:

Every time I breathe You seem a little bit closer
I never want to leave
I want to stay in Your warm embrace
Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face
And every time I get another glimpse of Your heart
I realize it’s true
That You are so marvelous God
And I am so in love with You

And another…

You are my desire
No one else will do
Cause nothing else can take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace

I’m sorry. I’ll stop now.

This is my point: At heart, both of my original examples are religious love songs. They’re just representing two different trends.  On one side, secular writers are beginning to intensify their religious language when it comes to describing the love between human beings, while on the other side, Christian writers are trivializing their religious language when it comes to the love we have for God. We, believers, are removing the seriousness from religious love language while they, un-believers, are increasing the seriousness of…religious love language. This should be seen as a major threat and a major wake-up call to the Church. Secularism is its own religion. Far from being spiritually neutral, it is revealing itself as deeply  spiritual in its own frightening way. It is imperative that Christian songwriters bring spiritual substance to the table. If they don’t, they will be fighting a dark and powerful enemy with little but flimsy cliches.

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Filed under Music Commentary, Other Genres, Songs