Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Analyze this Lyric

New category on my blog starting today: Analyze the Lyric. Why, you ask? I love Christian music, but I'm incapable of listening to it without screening the lyrics for theological soundness. Sorry. It's a common trait among theo-geeks.

A few years ago, I had a mixed worship CD with a whiny song called "You Said". At the time, I had never heard of Hillsong, the Aussie mega-church that produces Christian music (much of it whiny).There's something disturbing about the Hillsong franchise, but that's another blog entry. Well, last week this song reared it's doctrinally-questionable head at church for the first time (I think it had something to do with the evangelist with the story about the Muslim girl's honor killing that I'm finding hard to swallow.)

Now here's the song, and you tell me if it doesn't smack of post-millenialism:

Lyrics to You Said :
You said, Ask and you will receive
Whatever you need
You said, Pray and I'll hear from heaven
And I'll heal your land

You said Your glory will fill the earth
Oh, Like water the seas
You said, Lift up your eyes
The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I'll give the nations to you
O Lord, that's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light, as it rises on us

O Lord, we ask for the nations
O Lord, we ask for the nations
O Lord, we are asking for the nations
[ You Said Lyrics on http://www.lyricsmania.com/ ]

Seems to have a little dominionism in there, too. WE'RE asking "for the nations"? Umm...isn't our job just to occupy until He comes, and spread the Gospel? This song seems to anticipate end-time revival, that's for sure. Or am I reading too much into this?

On the subject of dominionism/Manifest Sons of God doctrine, here's the chorus of "Hail Jesus, You're My King" (Victory Chant):

Hail Jesus! You're my King!
Your life frees me to sing
I will praise You all my days
You're perfect in all Your ways

Glory, glory to the Lamb!
You will take us into the land
We will conquer in Your name
And proclaim that "Jesus reigns!

(Emphasis mine - where's that in the Bible?) I see no biblical injunction to "conquer in [Jesus'] Name". None. Zip. Never noticed that when we were singing this in college.

Comments, please.

16 comments:

JTW said...

I have the same problem of constantly analyzing lyrics for sound theology and even an appropriate musical tone and style. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, I do not want to become unnecessarily harsh and critical.

I haven’t heard “You Said”, but the reference to “asking for the nations”, could that mean for the preaching of the Gospel? I wonder this because the preceding lyric says, “The harvest is here”. Obviously, I can’t be certain.

Regarding the Victory Chant (which I have heard) – “We will conquer in Your name”; I always took that as a reference to Romans 8:37 “... we are more than conquers through Him who loved us.” The idea being that no matter what we face in life, regardless of difficulties or persecution, God’s grace is sufficient and no one can pluck us from His hand. Once again, I can’t be certain but that is how I interpreted that lyric and I did not find it problematic.

With that said, both songs could be interpreted in the way you suggested. I suppose only the authors know for sure.

I would be interested in your thoughts on a couple of songs: “Revelation Song” and “In Christ Alone”. Personally, I love these two songs and they seem to be thoroughly rooted in Scripture and sound doctrine. In fact, the first time I heard In Christ Alone, I thought it was an old hymn. I was stunned to learn that it was written in 2001. I love the old hymns because they are so Christ honoring; theology set to music.

Dani' El said...

Yeah, dominionism flies in the face of scripture. And that tune is definately going there.
After taking a brief look into modern praise music, I just gave up on it.

Give me the old school Wesley Hymns and Bach, Bach, Bach! lol!

I think my favorite hymn is "My Father's World"
Not exactly loaded with theology, but a beautiful hymn to have on one's lips for a walk in Golden Gate Park.

As you know, I've been declaring "Judgment, judgment, judgment!" for 3 1/2 years now, and all I heard back for a long time was, "No, no no! There is going to be a great revival!!"

I guess they don't know their eschatology.
I've also run into a lot of preterists, which baffles me.

Marie said...

Hi JTW,

I agree, that the sense in which the Christian "conquers" is the personal sin in his/her life. Viewed through that lens, I'd have no problem with it - but the overall tine and context of the song (and others like it) seem to suggest otherwise. Reminds me of the Muslim concept of jihad - they can do personal battle against sin in an internal 'jihad', but the term actually means divide, conquer and dominate - in Muhammed's name. Christians have to be careful to avoid any rhetoric that smacks of dominionism, but many of the folks producing these songs come from the charismatic/Word-Faith camp. Obviously, there are exceptions.

I LOVE the song "In Christ Alone"! That surprises me, that it was written so recently - I also thought it was an old hymn set to new music. My husband and I love when we sing it in church. I have the Newsboys version on a worship CD, and love cranking it in the car.

Likewise, I love the modern remixes of "Be Thou My Vision" and "Crown Him Lord of All". I have not heard of the "Revelation Song" you mentioned. Who is the artist? I'll check it out on YouTube.

Dani'El, I don't think I'm familiar with "My Father's World", either. Good on you for keeping a Christ-honoring song on your lips as you go forth with the Gospel!

Dani' El said...

Marie, here's a nice guitar arrangement of "My Father's World"-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5ixsLDtZBc&feature=related

And here's a more traditional version with the lyrics-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-pTNK8EJmk&feature=related

Words: Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901, alt. While a pas­tor in Lock­port, New York, Bab­cock liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” an an­cient up­thrust ledge near Lock­port. It has a mar­vel­ous view of farms, or­chards, and Lake On­tar­io, about 15 miles dis­tant. It is said those walks in the woods in­spired these lyr­ics. The ti­tle re­calls an ex­press­ion Bab­cock used when start­ing a walk: “I’m go­ing out to see my Fa­ther’s world.”
Music: Terra Beata, tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Frank­lin L. Shep­pard in his Al­le­lu­ia, 1915 (MI­DI, score).

JTW said...

Yes, In Christ Alone was written in 2001 and has been covered by several different artist.

I like the Newsboys version, but my favorite versions are from Avalon and Margaret Becker, Maire Brennan & Joanne Hogg. Their version is done in somewhat of a Celtic style.

My one gripe with the latter version is that the word "hope" (In Christ alone my hope is found) was changed to "heart". I think hope is a much better word (also more Biblical) and is loaded with meaning because our hope is in Christ. The certain expectation that His word is true and that we can trust Him with our future in life and in death.

Changing that to word to "heart" seems to me an unfortunate emoting that is more in line with the "moral therapeutic deism" of our day. But maybe I'm making too much of that.

Lastly, here is a link to the words and music for Revelation Song.

Marie said...

I just checked out Revelation song - I like it. A little slow for my taste, but style is something subjective. The lyrics are totally Christ-centered and God-focused, which is key. It is biblical. It is worshipful. It's not about "me" or "us". It's about Christ and how holy, how worthy, how glorious He is.

That's what a worship song should convey, without carnality.

Marie said...

JTW - I just listened to the Maire Brennan & Joanne Hogg version on YouTube -- THAT'S the version the praise team at my church does!! I love it -with the wind percussion at the beginning. I didn't know until just now who originated that version. Thanks for enlightening me - now I can listen to it whenever I want!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

"In Christ Alone" and "How Deep the Father's Love For Us" are the two best modern hymns in my opinion. Like the old traditional hymns, they are full of doctrine.

I've never heard of the Revelation Song either. I don't listen to much radio, which seems to be where most people find new stuff.

Thanks for discerning the lyrics for us. Egad!

I don't like changes to good old hymns, where people without much imagination have to use old stuff and then jazz it up. For instance, I don't know what they title the song, but "Amazing Grace" lyrics are sung to some dirgy, no melody bass tune and then the chorus is "Halleluja..." (I can't even remember!). Then there's "When I survey the Wondrous Cross" sung to Hamburg but they leave out the 2nd verse and make a Chorus that starts with "Oh that wondrous cross, oh that wondrous cross." Give it up guys and make your own song!

As for poor theology, we did one in church this past week which I learned with the Navigators (who have sadly now gone contemplative). "We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord." I mean, are we called to protect each persons' "dignity and pride"? It's not the worst but it could be a lot better!

Marie said...

Glenn,

You're not talking about the Chris Tomlin song, "Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone", are you? The themesong to "Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story"?

Tomlin added the bridge:

"My chains are gone; I've been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me -
and like a [something] His mercy flows
Unending love; amazing grace"

I like that one.

Next up: "Days of Elijah". Oh yeah. I'm gonna have a field day with that one. ;0

JTW said...

By the way, I found this resource on Piper's website.

A few weeks ago they were offering free downloads but that window of opportunity has closed. However, you can still sample their music.

I think most of the tracks are very good. Unfortunately, I don't care for their version of "In Christ Alone". With that said, overall, I think it is a very good collection.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I don't know. The next time we do that in Church I'll try to remember. I don't sing it and I don't like it because the lack of melody ruins the words.

Dani' El said...

I gave up a couple of years ago with modern praise music after buying a few cds.

I'm a musician, grew up playing trumpet in a musical family, and then learned to play guitar etc, so I would love to have music back in my life.

If anyone could recommend a good online christian radio where I could hear decent modern praise music it would be appreciated.
I'd like to take another shot at it.

Kol Tuv,

Your Brother in Messiah,
Dani' El

John K said...

Glenn,
The song you are thinking of is, "Grace Like Rain" by Todd Agnew, and frankly, I quite like it. You are right though, the beginning of it is a little funereal.

Here is a link.
Grace Like Rain

Marie said...

John, thank you for clearing that up, and posting the link. My first impression is simply: it's not meant for congregational worship. I honestly can't imagine how a church full of people could follow that one in harmony. Agnew is fine; but he's doing it solo w/ terrific backup.

John K said...

Marie,
Yes, I thought after I posted that it is more of a 'performance' song. We have not done it in our church on a Sunday morning, but I have done it in our "town wide worship" Sunday evening where the evangelical churches in our town get together for an evening of all kinds of gospel music.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

John,

YES-- I think that's the song - "Grace Like Rain." Horrid melody, and misuse of some good lyrics (in my humble opinion). Keep it out of church and leave it on the radio if you must. :oD