Worship Songs Compared.

DefCon touches on the issue of music and the Church from time to time; thanks to a recent article from The Watchman’s Bagpipes, this is one of those times.

Yesterday in church we sang some contemporary “worship” songs at the opening of service and closed with a traditional hymn.  Our church often mixes the old and the new, the trite and the meaty.  I want to show you the difference for what passes as “worship” songs today, compared to what used to be standard fare.  I will give them in the order we sang them, and I want you to read the lyrics with a discerning eye.

Read the entire article here.

7 thoughts on “Worship Songs Compared.

  1. Pilgrim, wow, this blog post by Watchman is such a great side-by-side comparison of the lyrics of modern praise choruses and the old hymns that are practically sermons. Sadly, one of the 5 reasons we left our previous church 4 years ago was that the music was hypnotic. They would play these same songs by Chris Tomlin and Michael W. Smith. The worship ‘band’ would play the same chorus over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, annnnnnd over again. and again. and again. We would find ourselves talking about what we were going to do for lunch or small talking about random stuff. Fast forward years ahead, and I can’t sing “It is well”, or “And Can it Be” or many others without getting tears in my eyes as I sing of the sacrifice and blood of Christ, how he has broken the chains of slavery to sin! The words of this faithful hims of days past make you sing out!

    And Can It Be – Charles Wesley 1783 (4th verse & 1st as chorus)

    Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
    Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
    My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
    My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
    And can it be that I should gain
    An interest in the Savior’s blood?
    Died He for me, who caused His pain—
    For me, who Him to death pursued?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

    That makes me worship!


  2. Though I agree we need to use discernment and it’s good express and discuss these things, I think we need to be careful to be quick to judge and artist without truly knowing their heart. For example, when I hear “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the Cross.”, I think no, I will never know (experience) what it cost because I don’t have to pay it, it has been paid for me. Thank God.

    As for the repetition, I don’t know it’s necessarily bad as long as the theology of what is being sang is sound. Seems more of a preference to me.

    And for the “cross-over” songs. I do lean towards being “against” those, but really, isn’t it the heart of the person singing the song that matters? If they are singing to Christ, then what does it matter that the same song could be sang to some other god?

    Just my thoughts


  3. Thanks for the plug, Pilgrim.

    As for hmkjr, this is the exact comment posted on my blog article. I will respond with the exact words from my response on my blog:

    “I wasn’t judging artists – I was judging lyrics.

    The lyrics of the one you discuss are, “I’ll never know how much it cost” – not “I’ll never experience how much it cost.” Let’s stick with the lyrics. The point is that we DO know the cost because the Word of God tells us. My guess is that the author was looking for something sentimental to end with.

    Repetition is usually there to work up an emotional state, and that is the main problem with it. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of talent to write, nor does it take a whole lot of contemplation when singing.

    I understand it is the heart of the person which determines which God one is worshiping, and there are even some Psalms that people could claim have no specific God identified. But “Breathe” isn’t only something that could be sung to any god, it is also totally vacuous of all doctrine – it is all emotion and comes from a signs and wonders movement. If we are going to be singing to and about the Lord, let’s have songs which actually have meaning.”

    Additionally, I also pointed out in my comment section that intellectually knowing something is not the same as fully understanding it. Perhaps the lyrics should have been, “I’ll never understand how much it cost….”

    Oh, “And Can it Be” is one of my very favorite hymns!


  4. When I’ve sung the line “I’ll never know how much it costs” I’ve never taken it to mean that I cognitively don’t understand what God did to purchase me as revealed in Scripture. I’ve always taken it as meaning I’ll never fully comprehend the magnitude of what it took to redeem someone like me.

    I think there are many better examples of bad songs than this one. Like “Breathe,” for example. Then there’s just plain dumb and annoying songs. The one that comes to mind, and I cringe whenever I hear it, is the one that goes “Shout to the north and the south, sing to the east and the west.” Ugh!

    The classic hymns are the most theologically saturated (and thus, I gravitate toward them), but there are some good modern ones too, like this one.

    Whenever the topic of Christian music comes up I always harken back to a comment I read years ago on another blog. It went something like this: When I got saved I threw out all my secular music. When I really got saved I threw out all my Christian music.


  5. When I gave the example of that first one as a bad song, it was primarily because that last sentence is sung over and over and over. I did say that the message itself wasn’t too bad. And even that last sentence could be tolerated if it wasn’t sung ad nauseum. And, as I pointed out, we may not understand fully the cost, but we can know intellectually because we are told. And that was my complaint. Change the statement to “I’ll never understand” and then my complaint will be reduced to the repetition!


  6. I understand, but I don’t the songwriters thought “understand” would flow as well as “know.”

    Also, I forgot to mention, what makes the song “Shout to the north and the south, sing to the east and the west” even more nauseating is when the worship leader has the congregation point in the directions as they sing. Ugh. And it’s sadly embarrassing when it becomes obvious that some in the church need a compass when they participate.

    Hey, now there’s a good marketing idea. Whenever a church sings this song, pass out free compasses to everyone with the church name and website on it.


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