Drinking Deeply

Sunday, August 13, 2006 at 4:46 PM

Boasting in our... volume?

Someone mentioned to me that they don't like to sing some of the songs we play at church because it is devoid of intellectual content and sounds merely like Peter boasting, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Here's a nice example:

Our Love is Loud - David Crowder Band
When we sing
Hear our songs, to You
When we dance
Feel us move, to You
When we laugh
Fill our smiles, with You

Pre-Chorus:
When we lift our voices
Louder still
Can You hear us?
Can You feel?

Chorus:
We love You, Lord
We love You
We love You
We love You, Lord
We love You
We love You

When we sing [LOUD!]
Hear our songs, to You
When we dance [ROUND!]
Feel us move, to You
When we laugh [ALOUD!]
Fill our smiles, with You

(Pre-Chorus)

(Chorus)

Bridge:
And our love is big
Our love is loud
Fill this place with this love now [4x]
And our love is big
Our love is loud
Fill our lungs
To sing it now...

(Chorus [4x])

Out:
We lift our voices louder still
Our God is near
Our God is here
Now, God's actions should inspire love and worship in us. When I think about the cross, the wrath of God eternally satisfied, the justice of God fulfilled, and the love of God displayed... yeah that leads me to praise, to song, to worship, but it's worship of God and not worship of ... me worshipping.

Not every song needs to be packed with theological content in order to be sung (and it's possible to over do it), but a song that doesn't even reach, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" is pretty weak. What is this song about? It's about how loud our love is. It's about how big our love for God is (which is shown merely through how loud we sing apparently).

God - hear our songs, feel us move, fill our smiles, fill our lungs, fill this place, is near, is here.

Now, it's true that God hears, but I'm not too sure if God"feels us move," or "fills our smiles," He does fill our lungs, and fill this place, but as a whole I'm left with a "huh?"

Even the songs in Psalms which are about worship are generally directed to the congregation (last five psalms for example). A call to worship and proclimation of the greatness of our God rather than a personal call to God "can you hear us? We're singing really loud!"

::shrug:: It's not like we don't have good songs to sing

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

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Blogger Mike Cheng said...

Haha... Nice choice of song at the end =P.  

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Anonymous curtis said...

mickey, this is such a good post. i have for some time been wary of the whole "worship movement", which is akin to the celebrity culture phenomenon, i think. i can't really explain how it happened, especially since the music sucks, and the celebrities are usually not very pleasing to look at. maybe it's because, after diligent hours of letting one's brain melt into a putty in front of television sets and trashy magazines, it no longer remains possible for certain people to actually think for themselves. the first song you posted is the perfect example of spoon-fed theology and worship.

i love this song:

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuel's veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Are saved, to sin no more

For since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
and shall be till I die

When this poor lisping,
stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing thy power to save  

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Blogger Eric said...

I'm not clear if you're objecting to this song on artistic grounds (e.g., the song doesn't actually express your feelings of love for the Lord), or to the entire sub-genre of "I love You" worship music. It seems to me that while "I love You, Lord" is not the theologically deepest nor best-Scripturally-attested sub-genre of worship, it'd be a shame to say that we should never say it because we'd sound like Peter boasting, "I will never leave You nor forsake You."  

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Blogger mxu said...

I'm objecting to the whole idea of worshipping ourselves worshipping. It is fine to say "I love you" to the Lord. But should we sing a song that boasts in our own love?  

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Blogger Eric said...

Fair enough; I'd object to that too. But if you see that in this song, you're getting something out of it that I'm not getting. I don't see any boasting in this song at all. I see:

1. A petition that our worship be received by the Lord: hear our songs.

2. A petition that our worship be close to the Lord: feel us move (a poetic expression of the desire to worship close to God and not from afar).

3. A petition that our worship be directed to the Lord: fill our smiles (i.e., we may be smiling because of all manner of things in this moment - but we ask that we be smiling because of you); fill this place with this love now.

4. A celebration of the fact that God hears our worship and is amongst the worshiping congregation: can you hear us, can you feel us (rhetorical questions to which the answer is yes); our God is near, our God is here.

5. An acknowledgement of the fact that God is responsible for our worship and is responsible for the fact that we love him: fill this place with this love now (fill this place with which love? Our love for God - we cannot ask God to fill the sanctuary [i.e., fill the worshiping congregation] with love for God unless we acknowledge that God is the source of our love for God. Similarly with "fill our lungs to sing it now" - an acknowledgement that our very capacity to physically express our God-given love for God is itself dependent on God).

6. An expression of our love for God: we love you, Lord; music, passim.

Maybe you can point out where the lyric here worships the worshiper. To me it seems to do the opposite, although it does delight in the fact that the worshiper loves the Lord. Which seems perfectly fine to me. There's nothing improper about enjoying love.

As for the objection that we sound like Peter, that doesn't seem well founded to me for two reasons. First, Peter's statement is an absolute; "we love You" is not. It is untrue that Peter will never leave the Lord; it is not untrue that we love the Lord - it is simply also true that we could love the Lord more completely. Second, I'm not sure we should condemn Peter's zeal simply because his flesh prevented him from carrying out his intentions. After all, what he wants to do is a good thing, and I don't think we can say with certainty that he made that statement relying on his own goodness or his own faculties. But in any case, this song seems different because the singer is deliberately petitioning God to fill him with love for God and (poetically) to give him the capacity to express that love.  

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Blogger mxu said...

If you're able to get that out of this song, then sing it and worship God. If that's how the congregation takes it, then it is entirely appropriate for them to sing it if they desire.

As for me, I'm unconvinced that it's appropriate for a few reasons:

1) The title: Our love is loud.

Yes, I agree we should be singing in response, and sometimes that response may include a loud response (though I'm unconvinced that it should always be rock songs sung loudly). But it is possible to say something that has truth behind it in an irreverant way.

Our love is loud may be implying, "God your love makes our love loud" but I highly doubt this is the case for most people who hear this song and sing along.

2) I do think there is something wrong with someone enjoying love if that enjoyment isn't derived from God. Namely, if I'm singing about singing loud, and I don't have the foundation for why I'm singing loud but keep singing anyways, then God has been completely removed from the picture and now we're just worshipping the fact that we're worshipping. Yes, our songs are meant to encourage others, but we don't encourage others to see us sing loudly, we encourage others to see God. I don't see this song doing that.

3) Regarding Peter's zeal, I think blindly emulating it isn't entirely healthy, as it forgets the point of our own sinful and depraved natures. How can we be making promises that the Bible says we can't keep? It would be far better to cry out for mercy, acknowledging that we would like to promise that, but know ourselves too well and need God's help.

Whatever the case, what we all long to see is worship in spirit and in truth. I am convinced that much of the worship we have today lacks the truth necessary to make it worship. Yes, they are redeemable if someone has the foundation already, but if they don't, the Sunday service is just a rock concert.

Looking back at this post, this post is really secondary, the true issue isn't really that the worship is bad (though I still think there are simple ways to make it better without losing anything) , it's just that the preaching isn't good enough to fill the worship with content to make it worship. But that's another quibble.  

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