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Songs of a true Christian March 16, 2011

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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Regardless of the cultural trappings of the actual musical style what should truly Christian songs be expressing?

I’d been meaning to blog for a while on the signs of a true Christian when I came across Eddie Arthur’s recent post on “Christian” music and how he frequently finds himself singing “Warm, fuzzy feelings derived from religious experience” which could equally well be sung by people from many of the larger global religions, and probably a few of the less scary smaller religions too.

Another blogger, Jeremy Myers,  had complained that most worship songs appeared to have been written by people who had no experience of the pain and tragedy of life – nice melodies for people to hug and sway too but largely empty and void of meaning.

Christian music at a painful time in my life was one of the triggers that helped me start my own Christian journey. I didn’t believe in the happy pill God the singer was raving about – but I wanted to. Exploring the Bible for myself I discovered writers who knew all about the love, joy, peace and power stuff but also those who encountered the majesty and holiness of a God who was almighty and not just all-matey. I read psalms, poems and strongly worded prayers and statements that make it clear God can cope with a bit of reverent questioning and complaining now and then.

Personally I’m also happy to sing a few not-totally-empty songs that express the joyful surface happiness and confidence I sometimes feel and want to feel more often.

But I don’t want to just sing “happy” songs.

Music and song are powerful tools in teaching Christian truths and getting bits of doctrine and scripture into our heads that stick a lot better than most of the sermons we hear. I can probably remember most of the words to Graham Kendrick’s “We Believe” penned 25 years ago as an expression of a much older Christian creed and there is probably still a place for something that expresses the same old truths to an even newer song. (here’s a recent mix from youTube of Kendricks “We Believe“)

But I don’t want to just sing songs that score well on theology.

Songs are useful for getting stuff in and also for getting stuff out. They help us to express a range of emotion. We probably need a few more that help us express our sadness and our fears in a context that says that we don’t understand God, but that we are willing, if he’ll help us, to trust him.

In the aftermath of the death of our first child in a missed miscarriage six years ago Matt Redman’s “Blessed be your name” came on the radio and sang:

“When the darkness closes in,
Lord Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord”

The song continues through to the lines:

“You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

And somehow because of all the truths we’d heard and sung, because of all we’d read, and seen, and experienced, and knew from a depth greater than our pain we could echo that too.

Six years on that song still has tremendous impact for us. Not just of bringing back a painful memory but of reassuring us of hope in pain filled world.

Individuals, communities and sometimes nations need a few more Christian songs that express pain, suffering, and a deep and certain hope.

But I don’t want to just sing songs of pain and hope.

Actually I don’t want to just sing songs. Worship should be expressed in song, and testimonies, and poetry, drama, art, and every other expression of creativity. Lets also not forget that however many powerful songs are recorded in the Bible and how many more are inspired by it, true worship is not about good songs, it is about being “living sacrifices” worshiping “in spirit and in truth”.

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Comments»

1. Darren - March 17, 2011

Great post. Thank you.

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2. Chocolate Church – poems of hollow faith & resurrection hope | Pete, Jennifer & Joel - April 10, 2014

[…] a previous post I stated that individuals, communities and sometimes nations need a few more Christian songs that […]

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