Archive | March, 2013

Misusing verses in songs, please stop

31 Mar

Reuben Morgan is our culprit this time. The song is “You Said”

Lyrics. Video.

This song is built on a number of “You said” statements that take a portion of scripture as a promise. The verses aren’t too bad, but the chorus is abominable.

You said, “Ask and I’ll give the nations to you.”
O Lord, that’s the cry of my heart.
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light as it rises on us.

 

The first line comes from Psalm 2:8

Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.

 

The problem is there is virtually no sound biblical interpretation that makes this a promise to Christian believers. In context, the psalm addresses the royal Davidic king. It’s almost certainly a messianic psalm, and its promise here is the promise of God the Father to the Messianic King, Jesus. So in what sense can this be the cry of our heart? We might, I suppose, pray that God will deliver the nations to Jesus’ reign and authority, but that is not quite the same thing. It gets worse, because the Tag and Ending of the song repeats:

“O Lord, I ask for the nations”

This is a prayer that is simply an illegitimate transferal from what is promised to Jesus to ourselves. I can’t sing this song in a congregation, it’s too wrong. Reuben Morgan, learn to read the Bible.

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Test: My Jesus, My Boyfriend

4 Mar

(A quick word about tests and song selection. Even if you don’t think my song is the best example of a particular test, I urge you to consider the test itself. The songs I offer up are usually just the ones that came across my path and gave me the impetus to write the particular post)

The logic behind this test and the Supreme Leader test is that Christian worship songs have a strong overlap of semantic domain. It’s right, and appropriate, that the sentiments expressed towards the God of the Bible overlap on the one hand with the devotion rendered to earthly leaders, and to other (so-called) gods, and on the other hand with the emotions expressed to the objects of earthly love. We ought to expect that kind of overlap. That is why the absence of explicit references to what makes this a Christian expression of those sentiments is so troubling. Stripped of its specific object, these worship songs are insipid, vacuous, and we can’t tell the difference between singing to God, the Leader, or our significant other.

The ‘My Jesus, My Boyfriend’ test derives its name from one particular popular song, but today I’m going to apply it to another, Reuban Morgan’s song “I give you my heart” (Lyrics, Performance)

This test is also called the Eric Cartman test; the South Park character Cartman becomes an Christian rock music sensation by substituting ‘Jesus’ for ‘baby’ in contemporary pop songs. (I am not endorsing ‘South Park’, and to be honest never watched the episode in question, it just peculiarily and perfectly illustrates my points here.) Essentially we are reversing that process. If we can take a song and substitute references to Jesus into ‘baby’, ‘my baby’, etc. ,and the song makes sense, then we’ve failed the MBMJ test.

This song falls the test. We can easily substitute ‘baby’ in, and the song expresses a kind of devotion that might be appropriate to a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s a little unusual in its wording, but that has more to do with the form of lyrics in Christian worship songs, but I don’t think lyrical genre is enough to save this one.

Let’s take a look at our new lyrics:

This is my desire, to honor you
Baby, with all my heart I worship you
All I have within me, I give you praise
All that I adore is in you

Baby, I give you my heart, I give you my soul
I live for you alone
Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake
Baby, have your way in me
have you way

Reuben Morgan, please write better Christian songs.