I started going to church again for the first time in a long time last summer. I feel very lucky to have been welcomed into the congregation so warmly and so speedily, and I have since begun playing music with the small worship “band” every Sunday.

The thing is, I find I don’t care for worship music.

(I know, right? Blasphemy at its highest.)

I have been considering it a lot and the deal is this: it has nothing to do with the subject matter, and everything in the way it is presented. So far for the most part, I’m finding it terribly bland and unimaginative. Nine times out of ten (because there is always the exception), the lyrics have no connection to the greater public. There’s no compelling argument, nothing to reach out and grab folks by the lapels and shake ’em. Even the melodic lines are plain — and not typically what you’d call “simply beautiful.” The lyrics and melody stick in the head after the service, sure, but they do so like tacky little commercial jingles. “Praise God for he is great, and great for youuuuuu…”

(Certainly, talented musicians can do amazing things, but to do truly fantastic things they need something better than sub-par material to work with.)

I think most of the music you find in churches is geared toward those who are already Enthusiastic True Believers (frequently seen singing with their hands in the air) — they don’t need convincing, they don’t need any personal connection to the music other than knowing it’s about their God and Savior. For them, that’s enough. Unfortunately, it leaves the rest of us (those who love God and have accepted Him, but are not “on fire” with purpose because they haven’t found it yet) lukewarm or even cold.

Which is my whole beef with worship songs. There needs to be more of them that offer something personal to the listener, in addition to affirming the greatness of God. This is where “Your Voice” came from. I don’t normally write spiritual songs (though music is a spiritual calling for me), but the lackluster songs and state of the world got to me. I was frustrated,  sick and weary of hardship. Feeling on the brink of throwing in the damn towel… and then hearing God speak. And knowing, deep in my core, that things will eventually be alright. Because He is awesome. He’s got it all under control.  In “Your Voice,” I attempted to offer up something of myself to you who may be listening, in the hopes that you may be able to hear Him, too.

That’s what I want to hear more of in worship music, and I don’t think I’m alone.

10 thoughts on “Worship music

  1. I can relate to this, Heather. I love old hymns, and I love to sing them, but when it goes to songs outside of hymns – like the more modern Christian-based music? I feel blasphemous for saying so, but it often sounds so cheesy that I want to giggle.

    1. Cheese is about right.

      I mean, I like helping out at church by playing music, and I like playing with my musical compatriots — but when we’re all there, I typically play harmony or fills, which I like because it gives me leeway and creativity. 🙂 This last week, I had to cover the lead because we were short a person, and wow. Dare I even say boring? Since I’m new to the group, out of the songs I knew I could do, I was only able to pick two that had that connection I was looking for. And it makes me feel guilty that the others don’t set me “on fire,” lol.

      I really should have fallen back on some traditional hymns. They’ve got substance!

  2. Love Sarah grove for just these reasons. While I love old hymns, I love hearing someone sing about “life” and living, not just “god is great don’t ask questions” lol

      1. Got to see her perform on a cruise recently and she was amazing. Her CDs – phoo – amazing and a lot of her songs really pack a punch ( in a good way ). Hope you like 🙂

  3. That’s really interesting. I feel grad student arguey now.
    Overall, I agree. A lot of today’s music is pretty lame, and I like your summary of it.
    On the other hand, I think of the huge pile of reminders in the New Testament, and believe that even the most fervent people need reminders, because of that whole “we’re like sheep” thing. We forget and get distracted so easily.

    Still, most of today’s music could be a whole lot better. Thanks for doing this!
    And, after years of music debates in seminary, thanks for coming with a fresh perspective that nobody bothered to touch in those debates!

  4. Thanks for weighing in!

    Certainly there IS a place for those songs that are boilerplate — they’re the old standby-s, the ones *everyone* knows the words to. “Soon and Very Soon” is a great example. It’s just that — speaking as a musician and a music aficionado and a Christian — there is a stunning lack of creativity in those songs. They have their place, yes, but with the sheer amount of variety of music available now, the people playing it have got to up their game if they want it to stay relevant. On a related tack, you can think of it this way: God GAVE us MUSIC and the capacity for creative thought. 🙂 We should be using it! 🙂

    Thankfully, the musicians I’ve been playing with ARE doing such things. That “Soon and Very Soon” I referenced earlier? Our drummer took it and turned it on its head and now *everyone* is singing and jiving on Sunday. 🙂

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