Recently I downloaded an album of Matt Redman’s as I reckon he is one of the better song writers out there when it comes to worshipful songs.
I have been inspired by his ‘Blessed Be Your Name’, a song that declares that God is worthy of praise in the good the bad and the ugly – not just when he makes me feel good. This is a gutsy song that requires some faith just to sing and that seems to tap into the parts of us that sometimes wonder if God is still there in drak times. You can’t sing it casually.
But I have also found it very difficult to listen to ‘Let Your Words Be Few’, which is in essence more of a love song to Jesus. I don’t have any problem declaring my love for Jesus and my allegiance to him, but the song frames it as ‘Jesus I am so in love with you’…
It was my friend Mike Frost who put his finger on what disturbs me with this, when he spoke of how romantic love has been elevated to the highest status in our society so that now the most powerful statement is about that of ‘being in love’. In many ways this is a western cultural reading of what it means to love Jesus – to be ‘in love with him’ as if he were our partner.
Aside from the fact that this just doesn’t cut it for a vast majority of blokes I don’t think it is what the Bible intended either. David is probably the most expressive worship song writer in the scriptures and he is clear in his expressions of love and adoration for God, but I’m not convinced he took his cues from a romantic idea of love.
I like Matt Redman’s stuff by and large, but I think this one may have slipped thru the cracks.
Can’t pass this one up, as I just preached on the topic this weeked.
I like the metaphor. The resonance with human experience and popular culture is a missiological opportunity. It is even biblical – but there’s the catch.
The Biblical images is a) always a marriage, b) always with Israel/the Church not individuals*, and c) centres around our Adultery. Hosea, Ezekiel (16&23) and Jeremiah(3) castigate Israel’s idolatry in such strong terms that I struggled to find something I could comfortably read in church**. Then they continue into scenes of reconciliation against all expectation. The New Testament has few references, which are sweeter but don’t tilt the balance (imho).
So perhaps the greatest strength of the metaphor is how clearly cheating remains in the ever-dwindling catalogue of sins. Love songs to Jesus without reference to our unfaithfulness may be scorned at will.
* I am reading the Song of Songs as a description of human love, which has the same parallels to God’s love as my personal relationships (if more perfectly). In the NT the disciples are invited to be wedding guests. Perhaps still a hard pill for men to swallow?
** Raising a whole other question, but I wasn’t keen to derail my trainee sermon on the principle of not shying from colourful language. Check out Eze 23:20.
It’s because of this that I discovered Mars Hill Seattle (and there by first came acrose the indomitable Mark Driscol) – I was looking for old hymns but with a modern rock music feel and found Mars Hill Music for free download on iTunes including great versions of “How great thou art” and “Nothing but the blood”.
I also really get allot out of listening to Sons of Korah which is modern eclectic in style but all the words are directly from the psalms. There take on Psalm 69 is magnificent and often the perfect match to my mood when no modern P&W song would ever do.
I’m pretty sure Redman has already mentioned something about this. I found a video once on Youtube (I’ll give it to you via facebook if I can find it) in which Redman is being interviewed and the guy asks him about this very issue. Redman mentions something about how he’d reword it nowadays because of that very issue, something on the order of “Jesus I am so in awe of you” or something to that effect.
I’m glad to see someone else standing up about this song. The first version I ever heard was by Rebecca St James, and she sounded on the edge of orgasm all the way through it with her breathy style. Lots of not good messages in there. Vicky Beeching has also done it. Not heard Redman do it, though it might be less bad still.
But it also sucks really hard musically. The chord changes grate on my soul, and even if it didn’t have iffy words, it’s one of those songs I’d consign to the bin as fast as possible. But in view of the first 2 artists that I heard, it seems a female-centric song. The women I know that like it do so a lot.
I do confess to having sung even worse drivel in church at times.
As for blessed be, we used that at our daughter’s funeral. It expresses the good times/hard times thing very well, and is the diametric opposite of ‘let my words be few’.
I also remember reading something by Redman basically saying he regretted that particular part of the song and that he would certainly change it if he was able to ….
The chord changes grate? Probably the augmented (sharp 5 chord) in between the 1 and the minor 6. I reckon it’s the reason why the song works as a piece of music. Heartily agree about the ‘in love’ line. Very ‘apple of my eye’ cringe (As the Deer).
Toddy – it’s the crude emotional tweaking in the music that’s so so unpleasant. Music is all about affecting and directing emotions and feelings to me, and this is emotional manipulation that’s borderline painful. Makes me cringe like a badly played violin would. This is by no means the only song that does it, but it is one of the worst.