Troublesome tricks with tricky lyrics

29 Dec

I haven’t had that much to be cranky about lately, but I was in a church recently that managed to bore me to death with endless repetitions of the same chorus, splicing songs together to make a mess of both of them, and generally made me feel like I was an a accessory to the worship band, not a member of a worshipping congregation.


Anyway… while we were there we sang “How he loves”, originally by John Mark McMillan, but covered by just about everyone. Now, I only knew the version by David Crowder, in which the lyrics go like this, particularly verse three:

And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss

But when we sang them in church they were suddenly

And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss

To be honest I was shocked, this sounded like a terrible change for the worse, that turned something delicate and touching into something visceral and slightly amusing. It seemed out of character for the song and as you might know I’m not a fan of changing lyrics.

But I was wrong. At least about the changing. Because David Crowder asked John Mark McMillan to change them. It’s so interesting to me that in that blog post, McMillan has to defend the change and his permission-giving. Personally, I totally understand why Crowder wanted to change the line, in my opinion its a vast improvement. Again, if you read McMillan’s post, he gives you an understanding of what ‘sloppy wet kiss’ was meant to convey. I don’t think it succeeds, but that’s my take.

I also appreciate the fact that Crowder went and asked nicely. That’s what you should do. It’s certainly not what our worship leader did when we repeated the final chorus and he decided we should all sing:

oh how we love you

Suddenly a song that, while not perfect, is a lovely song about the greatness of God’s love for us, is turned into a narcissistic reflection on how much we love God. That doesn’t amaze me. It doesn’t move me at all. Why are we singing about that, when we were busy reflecting on God’s love for us?


Anyway, this just illustrates some of the problems that arise when lyrics do get changed, and there are multiple versions floating around. At least with this one it turned out to be relatively easy to track down the original and the change and the why and wherefore. It turns into a nightmare when people get hold of old hymns and start messing with them anyoldhow…


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