Truth versus Tune

Does anyone else find themselves singing popular worship songs (both hymns and modern) and thinking, “What in the world does this mean?” I like to think I have somewhat of a handle on theological concepts and jargon, but sometimes I still lean over to Dana during worship and ask, “What does that lyric mean?” to which she smiles at my critical evaluation and shrugs.

Sometimes it seems that we sacrifice solid theological truth in worship songs for the sake of something that just sounds good or rhymes well. It makes me think how many Christians across the nation are singing these words without even thinking about what they’re actually saying. Fortunately worship takes place in our heart’s attitude toward God and not solely in the words we say.

Posted on September 2, 2006

  • Tim, congrats BTW.

    I think that good worship music combines several aspects – music, lyrics and ideas – to make a better end result. Some hymns and songs do this well and some don’t. I would say that nothing is sacrificed if it is done well. Done poorly, it is disasterous. “Jesus, he’s the one who frees us” is a great example. It’s true and rhymes but is so cheesy that no one would write this, I hope.

    There are some great hymns that are better than many sermons out there, IMO and some great songs too. Regardless, they both often get paid attention to about as much as some sermons. I think the average guy in the pews is not paying much attention at all and we as church leaders don’t often help.

    What would it look like to try to force people to be intentional in church?

  • G’ma & G’pa Wayman

    Glad to hear you are THINKING about all this stuff that influences our kids these days. I think they just like the beat so many times, and I notice how mono-tone they are.. and it doesn’t encourage the church to sing much with the loud CD.
    Our pastor got some modern pictured-hymn cd’s that are good, and teach the kids some meaning.. as well as adults !

  • I'm a worship leader and I always try and check a songs content before learning and teaching them, sometime when people just start them though that kind of vetting is not possible.

    Having said that some of the old Hymns while being very solid in theology mean absolutely nothing to the people singing them which is just as bad.

  • What you say is true , I have noticed several Christian songs that are inaccurate Biblically. Hymns aren’t exempt from this either, I ran across this fact while studying for a Sunday School lesson a couple weeks ago. Something to be aware of.

  • Tim,

    I tried posting here the other day and it got lost. Anyhow, I think that you have made some very good points here. As a youth pastor though, I see the reverse happening too. We tend to sing more modern choruses than the older folks. I love it when older people complain about a song and even get mad, then later you reveal that it came right from Scripture! Most of the hymns only sing about God (and they are not verses of Scripture). Most modern choruses sing to God (and many of them are straight from Scripture). These are generalizations of course, and there are some great exceptions. Also, there is nothing wrong with singing "about" as opposed to singing "to" God. So, don't misunderstand me.

    Back to your point. Yes, it is very important to make sure what we're singing is Biblical and not idiocy. However, I don't think every lyric HAS to come directly from Scripture. There are things to be thankful for and sing about that the Bible doesn't specifically address.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble…

  • Tim

    I agree that not every lyric must come directly from scripture and that it's perfectly okay to sing songs both to God and about God. I'm only addressing lyrics that don't make sense or are theologically inaccurate.

    My purpose here is not to attack any particular song so I won't be giving any examples to show what I mean. I'm only sharing my "eyebrow raising" experiences during worship. Thankfully it's not a frequent occurrence.

  • Andrea

    As a worship leader, I, too, have felt a heavy burden to find songs that have meaning, that draw the singer/listener into a deeper understanding of God's truths. I'm frustrated when I find a beautiful tune coupled with poetry that sounds good at first hearing, but upon further lstening, comes across as shallow, or just plain wrong. As a mom of 2 teenagers, I'm always challenging my kids to think about what's being said in a song, either christian or secular (that's assuming you can even understand the words!), because words can have such a powerful influence over our feelings, as well as our thoughts. And when the poet comes across with something fresh (sometimes new, but more often an age-old truth presented in a fascinating, fresh way)… mmm, that's a blessing to our souls that leaves us longing for more of Him!

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