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.

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4 Responses to “Sinking Deep”

  1. lach 2016/01/19 at 3:34 am #

    I’m trying to work out what really irks me about this song. Maybe it’s the confused nature of the verbs and what the worshipper is meant to be doing. The worshipper is ‘standing’ and ‘wrapped within arms’ (thus secure/firm) but also ‘sinking deep in mercy’s sea’ (so also swept away by grace). These things don’t play well together (not to mention what the sea often represents in the Bible). Then the worshipper is ‘wide awake’ (weird, but maybe this indicates that this is true and not a dream… standard lovesong stuff). After this the worshipper is ‘stirred by grace’. But we’ve already been told that we are sinking in mercy’s sea. The imagery is confused. Next comes ‘I breathe you in’ and ‘I lean into your love’. But if you are in the standing, wrapped in arms, sinking in a sea of mercy, awake and being stirred then maybe ‘breathing you in’ is a rather awkward thing to do. Under the mercy sea, you just breathe in grace and drown in it I guess. At least you’re standing. ‘Leaning’ into love isn’t really biblical (it reminds me of this book, actually, http://www.amazon.com/Lean-In-Women-Work-Will/dp/0385349947) and if you are stand-sinking in a sea then what is there to lean on?

    • Suzanne 2016/08/16 at 10:32 pm #

      I am with the Cranky Worshipper on this one. It has a very mystical, experience-based feel to it. Breathe you in sounds a bit yoga-ish. We are not told to breathe Him in, we are told to believe on Him. Just yesterday I was reading in my bible that the Lord has set our feet on solid, level ground and he has lifted us out of the miry pit. I don’t think Christians are supposed to be sinking…we are supposed to be standing firm…….

    • Suzanne 2016/08/16 at 10:36 pm #

      I am with the Cranky Worshipper on this one. Breathe you on is very reminiscent of yoga techniques. Besides we are not told to breathe Him in we are told to believe on Him. Christians are not supposed to be sinking…..we are supposed to be standing firm, our feet on level ground…this song is way to mystical for my liking and it is really bad theology

    • Trevor 2016/08/22 at 2:58 pm #

      I’m going to have to disagree with a lot what you guys are saying.

      Leaning into love is a more poetic way of saying you are embracing what is in front of you. Rather than standing still and letting it come to you, you are making an effort to reach for it. Not sure why that would be unbiblical, or why you’d need it to even be biblical. It’s the act of a faithful follower.

      In regards to wide awake and stirred, you have to realize that stirred is one of those words with many meanings, go look it up. In this case, its likely “to affect strongly; excite” or even “to incite, instigate, or prompt” rather than the “to rouse from inactivity” that you are likely thinking about. So honestly, I don’t see the verbs you are mentioning here as confused in nature at all…

      I’ll give you the second half of the first verse, that is a little confusing and while I don’t think we are supposed to be sinking deep, unfortunately, that is probably how many Christians feel as they work through the struggles of their life.

      To the original blogger: Not sure how mentioning the beauty of God is a bad thing, it’s certainly not a focus of the Bible but it IS mentioned a few times in the Bible so I think you are getting pretty nitpicky. Here are a few places where it is mentioned Psalm 27:4, Isaiah 4:2, Isaiah 33:17. As you said, it’s a minor emphasis but hey it’s in there so I think you are trying a little too hard.

      I can see some reason for nitpicking on the lyrics but I think the thing that stands out the most with this song is that is a very well orchestrated song that weaves together a lot of the emotions believers are feeling and some they want to be feeling. It’s built to reach a crescendo in a beautiful way and while not perfect, its a very good song that evokes great emotion.

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