Weird worship meme

Posted: 15th May 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Subtitled: “ElShaddai, I’m crazy to do what you say and go somewhere if your Ghost is not there!”

David Ker tagged me and several others with a “weird worship” meme, which evidently focuses on bizarre worship song lyrics. In addition to David’s original post, there have been a number of great replies, including this from Peter and this from Eclexia and now this from Doug. I’m not sure that I’ll come up with five, but I’ll try.

#1: Leading off is one that has bothered me from the first time I heard the song. It’s from the group Avalon; their song “I Don’t Want To Go” includes this chorus:

I don’t want to go somewhere
If I know that You’re not there
‘Cause I know that me without You is a lie
And I don’t want to walk that road
Be a million miles from home
‘Cause my heart needs to be where You are
So I don’t want to go

First off, is there anywhere that God is not? So the whole premise is faulty. But let’s say that for some reason, it was valid. Isn’t the heart of evangelism proclaiming Christ where the gospel has not been presented? So, basically, this song is saying “No, God, I don’t want to go proclaim your gospel. Let me stay home and sing comfy praise songs”. Ouch. It doesn’t help that the music is arranged as a power ballad, with the “emotional quotient” set at 11.

#2: Because no worship song meme would be complete without a “Jesus is my boyfriend” (JIMB) reference, I offer the following from Lenny LeBlanc, whose music I normally enjoy. The musical premise of this one is great and if you don’t listen to the lyrics, it’s a great song to bop along with in the car. However, about those lyrics…

I’m crazy no mistakin’
My heart’s been overtaken
Hopelessly in love with You Jesus
Gone off the deep end
Out of my head
Over the edge I’m truly devoted
When it comes to loving You
I have to say
I’m crazy

Crazy indeed. And just a little bit weird sung by the silver goatee’d Lenny.

#3: As an antidote to the JIMB of “I’m Crazy”, I turn to Billy and Cindy Foote’s new song “If I Say I love You“:

If I say I love You
I will do what You say
I will obey You and surrender all
If I say I’m Your friend
I will keep Your commands
I will obey You and surrender all

What, personal responsibility and accountable obedience in a worship song? Weird indeed, pretty cool. Calvinists will probably scream that all those “I will…” lines is putting human response over the work of Spirit. Heh, heh… gotta like those Pelagian worship songs.

#4: I wonder… if Thomas Ken hadn’t felt the need to write no less than 11 (!) verses to his 1674 hymn “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun“, would he have come up with something a little less goofy than the rhyming in his last verse?

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

How many millions of children and liturgical chanteuses (both male and female) hence have needed the theological correction that Casper is not part of the Trinity? Which is ironic because Ken wrote in a time “when the es­tab­lished church be­lieved on­ly Script­ure should be sung as hymns-with an em­pha­sis on the Psalms. Some con­sid­ered it sin­ful and blas­phe­mous to write new lyr­ics for church mu­sic, akin to ad­ding to the Script­ures.”

#5: Finally, this one by Michael Card (no, not Amy Grant) is weird probably just for me and me alone. Certainly thousands, if not millions, of others enjoy singing this song, if their personal testimony to me is to be believed. For me, it’s just weird.

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai (God Almighty, God Almighty)
El-Elyon na Adonai (God most high, O Lord)
Age to age, You’re still the same
By the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai (God Almighty, God Almighty)
Erkamka na Adonai (I love you, O Lord)
We will praise and lift You high
El-Shaddai (God Almighty)

With that, my contribution to the meme is complete. Now I’m supposed to tag five more people and have them contribute. First, as one of few musical bloggers I know, I tag Greg Willson. For introducing me to the decidedly not weird Sovereign Grace Music, I tag Steve Douglas. For confusing me with their names, I tag Bryan L. and Bryan Lilly. Finally, to get more content on his new blog, Genesis III, I tag Byron S. So for the new victims, please give five examples of Weird Worship and tag five more people to do the same.

  1. Peter Kirk says:

    Your #1 reminds me of a line from the song “This is the air I breathe” by Michael W Smith. The title is a good example of weirdness in itself, but the line that struck me is “I’m lost without you”. One Sunday when we were singing this I was feeling really down, and the message that I got from this line is “I’m without you, so I’m lost”. Of course not what Smith intended. But I could sing “I’m desperate for you”, and perhaps mean it more than my better days, and because I could sing this the situation soon changed.

  2. Steve says:

    Good one, ElShaddai! I already have my victims picked out…

  3. @Peter – “This is the air I breathe” seems to have blown through in these parts – we very rarely sing it anymore and I haven’t had to play it in an even longer time.

  4. David Ker says:

    That song and “Draw me close to you” were very big during our visit to the US in 2002. I liked them both at the time but they peaked in the charts and have now gone on to old chorus purgatory. If only Ancient of Days and Shout to the Lord would take a final bow as well.

  5. At my previous church, the horn line played every three weeks or so and it was pretty much a guarantee for about six months in 2006 or 2007 that we would be playing “Shout to the North”. I am very much over that song – there’s only so many ways that brass horns can emulate an Irish drone without going nuts.

  6. David says:

    “But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.”