Monday, May 09, 2005

Contemporary Christian music I love, but wouldn't use in worship...

I do enjoy many contemporary Christian artists and songs. However, having already been through the same type of worship experiences that Douglas writes about, I do not want those songs in my formal worship. I think of contemporary Christian music in the same way that I think of the latest song from any other singer (who may or may not be a professing Christian): a song expressing an idea, a poem put to a tune or a story sung beautifully. Example: the recent Grammy-winning song, Daughters, is a beautiful and true song. If John Mayer added verses about Jesus' love for us, would it become worthy of worship? No.

I love many of the songs by Fernando Ortega. His songs are often beautiful prayers, if not just wonderful observations of a Christian's life. I love to play This Good Day in the car and sing along, but I would not choose it for corporate worship:


Morning sun
And morning glories
Pouring down the hill,
Through my window
I can feel the ocean breeze.

Noisy sparrows
Fill the oak trees
Swallows can’t stay still,
And in the glad commotion
Lord, you speak to me

If rain clouds come
Or the cold winds blow,
You’re the one who goes before me
And in my heart I know

That this good day
It is a gift from you.
The world is turning in its place
Because you made it to.
I lift my voice
To sing a song of praise
On this good day.

I love Generations, by Sara Groves. The song is inspired by Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and every word of this song rings true to scripture, this song is an anthem for my life, but it doesn't belong in corporate worship.

I can taste the fruit of Eve.
I'm aware of sickness death and disease.
The results of her choices were vast.
Eve was the first but she wasn't the last.
If I were honest with myself,
had I been standing at that tree,
my mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit.
Things I shouldn't know and things I shouldn't see.

Remind me of this with every decision.
Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.

She taught us to fear the serpent.
I'm learning to fear myself and all of the things
I am capable of in my search for acceptance, wisdom and wealth.
To say the devil made me do it is a cop-out and a lie.
The devil can't make me do anything
when I'm calling on Jesus Christ.

To my great-great-great-granddaughter, live in peace.
To my great-great-great-grandson, live in peace.
To my great-great-great granddaughter, live in peace.
To my great-great-great-grandson, live in peace, live in peace.
Chorus .
Eve was the first but she wasn't the last.

My family ALWAYS plays The Traveler when we start out on a road trip. The song is a prayer and the music is wonderful, but it's also not for corporate worship:


Neon lights flickering
Outside the café
Ice on the windshield
Stars in a black sea
On a winter road
Flurries of snow
I'm ready to go

Past farmhouse and pasture
Our voices together
Rise to the drumming
Of big-rigs and trailers
Long hours to daylight
A rumbling bus
Our bed and our board

Heavenly Father
Remember the traveler
Bring us safely home
Heavenly Father
Remember the traveler
Bring us safely home
Safely home

I love contemporary Christian music. I play it at home and in the car. I sing familiar songs at unexpected moments. But I'm also learning liturgical hymns, whether 5 years or 500 year old, with time-tested scriptural lyrics that accurately convey the gospel message. And I'm starting to sing those to myself in unexpected moments.


Jason said...

Thanks for the post, Theresa. I agree, there really is some high quality CCM out there that we should not be ashamed of and can be a big boost to our devotional lives. I personally like the folky-rock sound of Waterdeep and Over the Rhine. However, this music should not replace the rich hymnody in our churches.

Some people gripe that hymns don't "move them" they way that CCM does and so they want to hear CCM in the worship service. The problem with this is that so much CCM is person-focused (what I do for Jesus), not Christ focused (what he did for me).

Swansmith said...

I love the old hymns too--and the deep meaning and tradition they bring to worship. But don't forget that even Luther's hymns would have been considered "contemporary Christian music" in his day. Lots of his music came from popular bar room songs.

TKls2myhrt said...


I may have not made it clear, but I am talking about the verses of the song and not the tune. Formal worship songs must be doctrinally (doctrine = Christ's teachings) sound and reflect the good news that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. I also think that formal worship songs should focus on God and what he has done for us and not much on ourselves, our feelings, etc.

Swansmith said...

I know, Theresa and I agree--I'm just being my usual gadfly self. ;) But lots of people are hung up on the tunes of CCM, and as you said, there are many good CCM songs out there with excellent lyrics, too. I think there's a place for them in worship.

Anonymous said...

Being a musician who has played many venues including leading praise and worship, I can tell you that contemporary sounds and lyrics can have a place in worship. As much as music can be used as an expression of how you feel Praise and Worship likewise can be an expression of our love for the saviour. If you think God is so small he pays attention to the genre of the music with wnich you choose to praise Him that you've missed the boat by a long shot. He listens to your heart and knows what comes from within. That was one of the hardest lessons Jesus had to get across in His ministry. Its referred to as legalism.

TKls2myhrt said...

I don't think God is small and your comments are welcome as long as you post your name and email. This is a forum for discussion. Your IP address has been recorded.

Terry said...

Those were my comments in the previous posts I have no problem with signing in with my name and email address, but if htat is a requirement then why do you have the option to sign in anonymously. And Ididn't htink that my comments were so offensive that it warranted a warning that my Ip had been recorded. I am a Systems Administrator for an International marketing research company and understand what you mean by this. However my statement wasn't a direct accusation that you thought God was small. But it was a challenge that if you think God pays more attention to what genre of music you choose to worship Him with than the intentions of you heart, then it is my opinion that you think God is small. I hope this clarifies my position a little more.