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