If you know me well at all, you’ll know my opinions on modern worship music. Those of you who read my previous posts, Jesus Romance and Gay for God? are likely figure out why as well. I figured it’s about time I get it all out in the open. So here are 4 reasons why I dislike modern worship music.
4. The music sucks
I don’t know how other people approach their music, but for me, the music itself is by far the most important part of a song. If a song has amazing lyrics with crappy music backing it up, I’m out. However, even a song with lame lyrics can be redeemed by awesome music. Thing is, the music itself is a very important factor in deciding whether I like a song or not. Just ask my wife. She’ll tell you how I ramble on about a certain guitar solo or instrumental section of a song. Half the time, I don’t even know what the song is a about (usually because the lyrics are in another language) and yet I love the song because of the music itself. That might also be why the vast majority of the songs in my collection have little to no lyrics
The problem with worship music is that it’s cookie-cutter, unoriginal and all sounds the same. If you hear one worship song, you’ve heard them all. They all have the same beat, same guitars, drums, etc. The music is just uninteresting and I don’t like listening to it. You might say, yeah well, it’s the lyrics that matter, so forget the music. Sure, I’ll do that when every Christian decides to start singing acapella; then you might make me believe that the music doesn’t matter.
3. The lyrics suck
A bigger problem I have with modern worship music is the lyrics themselves. They are very shallow and poorly written. All you have to do is write few lines about loving Jesus and the joy he brings you and boom, you have 75% of worship lyrics down.Every other worship song I hear is pretty much “My Jesus, Jesus, my Jesus“. Just look at the famous worship song “I’m trading my sorrows“. The entire chorus is two words. Two words! Yes and Lord. That’s it. Oh wait, it ends with “amen”. That makes it all good. Look, I’m not trying to be rude, but these are crappy lyrics. Sure, they may convey awesome truths or whatever, but that doesn’t make the writing any better.
You want to know what I consider good lyrics? The song “Whatchu Goin’ Do?” by The Ambassador. Check it out below:
Funny thing is, I’m not a fan of rap music, Christian or otherwise. I don’t even agree with everything the Ambassador writes in this song, but I can’t deny the brilliant word-smithing. We have some genius uses of metaphor, good flow with some very catchy rhymes and some of the most original imagery I’ve heard in Christian music. The writer clearly spent some time thinking and writing the lyrics. If Christian musicians spent more time actually writing good lyrics like the Ambassador above, I might actually reconsider worship music.
2. The lyrics are shallow
This point ties in with number 3 above. In addition to being poorly written, modern worship songs are shallow. They don’t get much deeper than describing feelings. Most worship songs talk about feelings: feeling love, feeling blessed, feeling joy, feeling romance, or whatever. Because of this focus on feelings; the lyrics themselves don’t really describe anything deeper. Let’s compare two songs. Here are the lyrics for the popular worship song “Here I am to worship” and the above song, “Whatchu Goin’ Do?” Open up the links and skim the lyrics over side-by-side. Now tell me, which song has deeper lyrics. I’ll give you a hint; it’s not the song most Christians sing. It really isn’t even a competition. The Ambassador song is deeper than many sermons I’ve heard and even alludes to a bible verse using some really clever metaphors. I really hope that worship songwriters start taking themselves seriously and writing lyrics deeper than a baby’s bathtub. But until then, count me out.
1. The songs are feminized
I’ve talked about this one before so I won’t go into this one too much. But one thing I’ve began to notice is that most, maybe 95%, of modern worship songs are written to be sung TO God. The songs are geared to stir the emotions of the singers and to get a “spiritual high” as they sing TO their God. This focus on emotion, feelings and intimacy is a feminine one. The lyrics are full of feminine imagery: a rose trampled on the ground or a desire to touch Jesus.I’ll go out on a limb and say that this sort of imagery does not appeal to most guys, especially the more masculine ones. It certainly does not appeal to me.
I looked through the older hymnals my church has and I noticed a big difference. First, these older hymns don’t seem to be as focused on feelings and emotional highs. The lyrics of these old hymns are less personal; they are not so much written TO God as they are written ABOUT God. In addition, I notice a lot more military imagery. Just take a look at the popular hymn “Battle Hymn of the Republic“. In these older hymns, God is not a “rose trampled on the ground” but a hero with a “terrible, swift sword” who “honors the brave”. These older hymns are written in a far more masculine style with more masculine imagery. These are the sorts of songs that appeal to the guys a lot more than songs talking about intimacy with God and desiring to touch Jesus.
Just my two cents on worship music. So until the musical talent of worship music approaches the lyrical and musical genius of this song, I’m not interested.