Archive | January, 2016
25 Jan

Up this week, ‘Spirit Fall’, a song by Susie Woodbridge, Chris Lawson Jones, and Nick Herbert. Lyrics here, video here.

You breathe life, You restore
Awaken my soul, I know that I’ve been made for more

You speak truth, You renew
When I’m in Your presence You show me the glory of You

Spirit fall, Spirit fall
Fall on us for we are Yours
Fall on us for we are Yours

You will make, all things new
Until you return all creation cries out for you

There is power in Your presence
Hope and healing in your presence
There is freedom in Your presence
Spirit fall

One of the first things I look for in a song is how explicitly Christian it is. That’s because I think that a song that is distinctively lacking in Christian content is not really a Christian worship song, nor does it encourage people in a positive, Scriptural faith.

In the 4th century there was a group polemically called Pneumatomachi– the Spirit-fighters – so called by their opponents because they contended that the Spirit did not have a place in the Godhead and by correlation should not be worshipped.

This song is in danger of the opposite fallacy – of focusing entirely on the Spirit in an unbiblical lopsidedness that destroys the integrity of the Trinity and misdirects devotional practice.

For the whole song mentions only the Spirit. While prayer and worship may be properly directed towards the Spirit, since the Spirit is fully God and co-equal in honour, dignity, and worship with the Father and Son, it is also not the typical pattern within the Scriptures, and here it is directed at a spirit without mention of Father and Son.

The second problem I have with this song are the lyrics, ‘until you return all creation cries out for you’. I presume this is partly an echo of Romans 8:18-25. But we are not awaiting the Spirit’s return, but the Son’s. The creation groans and suffers, and we who have the Spirit groan inwardly, but the creation is not crying out for the return of the Spirit, that is not an accurate dynamic.

Lastly, the focus of this song is again an extrapolation of a narrow element of Scripture. The book of Acts talks a number of times, but few, about the Spirit ‘falling’ on believers. Acts 10:44 and then 11:15 (referring to the same event actually) are the only ones that come to mind. These refer to the coming of the Spirit on Gentiles as they first receive the gospel and believe in Christ. There’s no reason, I would argue, to think that believers need the Spirit to ‘fall’ on them apart from the entering of the Spirit that accompanies their conversion. In this sense, asking the Spirit to fall on us continually misunderstands the Spirit’s work in our life and relationship to us.

 

Sinking Deep

19 Jan

Today we’re talking about ‘Sinking Deep’, a Hillsong offering from Aodhan King and Joel Davies.

Here are the lyrics, and a video.

Verse 1:

Standing here in your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won by perfect love
Wrapped within the arms of heaven
In a peace that lasts forever
Sinking deep in mercy’s sea

This song hits all sorts of contemporary experiential Christian ‘spots’ – surrender, presence, pursuit, ocean-imagery, love, devotion. In fact that’s just the first verse! In my view this is borderline – these are all elements found in Scripture, they have a place in Christianity, but they are not configured in this way, and these are not the major motifs of Scripture at all. ‘Surrender’ is not the dominant theme of Christian living, and speaks more to mystical aspirations of ‘losing all in the cosmic void’, for which the very common ocean theme works very well. There is a preponderance of ocean metaphors in this genre of worship music, and I suspect it speaks to a paucity of poetic imagination for vastness.

I’m wide awake drawing close
Stirred by grace and all my heart is yours
All fear removed
I breathe you in, I lean into your love
Oh your love

The chorus is particularly weak here, since it falls into the category of ‘mistook you for my boyfriend’ lyrics. Apart from dropping the null signifier ‘grace’, which hear just functions to say, ‘hey we’re talking Christian language yo!’, the chorus would work very well in a romance ballad. Certainly I don’t pretend to know what ‘I breathe you in, I lean into your love’ is meant to mean for a Christian worshiper.

When I’m lost you pursue me
Lift my head to see your glory
Lord of all, so beautiful
Here in you I find shelter
Captivated by the splendour of your face
My secret place

Verse 2 contains the one vaguely scriptural reference – obliquely to Luke 15 I would presume. But it then goes on to represent glory in aesthetic terms. We’re ‘captivated by the splendour of your face’, but that splendour has been interpreted as the ‘Lord…so beautiful’. The Bible doesn’t major, and barely minors, in the theme of the aesthetic beauty of God as a reason for worship of him. Indeed, it’s more likely to portray him as the Creator of a beautiful creation, rather than the Beautiful Creator.

Your love so deep is washing over me
Your face is all I seek, You are my ev’rything
Jesus Christ, You are my one desire
Lord hear my only cry, to know you all my life.

The Bridge is the best part of this song, and that’s not saying much. Again ocean/water imagery to depict an immersive experience in God that is more resonant with mysticism than Christianity. Finally, a mention of Jesus Christ that is direct and unambiguous, and some actual expressions of prayer which is what this song has been wanting to get to all along. Given how vacuous many worship song bridges are, this one is both outperforming itself in the bridge category, as well as lifting up the rest of the song to be almost Christian worship.

1.5 stars.