Tuesday, February 24, 2009


So, I've heard/read a few worship leaders recently criticize Christian artists/songwriters for being too "cliche" with their lyrics and music, especially referring to worship (Christian songs we sing to or about God) songs...in fact, I've heard a few people declare that this is one of the "real" problems with modern Christian music. I have issues with that criticism...

"Cliche" as defined by Webster means:

1: a trite phrase or expression ; also : the idea expressed by it
: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
: something (as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace

Now, in my humble opinion, if a "worship" song is worth any weight, it's lyrics are going to be based on Scripture...either quoting/paraphrasing scripture, or coming out of the Christian life/experience...which is automatically going to create the risk of making the lyrics "cliche".

But, what does it say about our God and our worship if we believe that either Scripture or the Christian Life has become trite, hackneyed or overly familiar? God invites us to sing a new song, reminds us that His eternal mercies are new every morning, and declares that His Word is alive and powerful even today. Revelations describes the angles of Heaven singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" for all of eternity...how's that for cliche?

I understand that these criticisms are coming from people who are a bit tired of the same old same old with contemporary worship music...but, does that say more about the people writing the music, or more about those doing the criticizing? I freely admit that I don't like certain artists or songs for similar reasons, but, again, does that reveal more about me and my culture and my background and experiences than it does about those artists and songwriters. There is certainly a place and time to call out those who's character is seriously questioned or who's songs do not match up with the truth of God's Word, but most of the recent negative criticism I've seen have come from those who just don't enjoy what they're hearing.

For example, I do not care for the music of Jeremy Camp, for personal preference reasons that are related to this discussion. But, whenever anyone asks me about my opinion of Camp, I am also quick to acknowledge that I'm obviously in the minority (Camp is hugely popular) and that I have heard nothing but good things about his personality and character and have never heard any criticisms of his music for being anything but Biblical and true...so, I try (it's hard sometimes) to simply share my personal tastes and not criticize the guy.

Having likes and dislikes when it comes to music is a neutral thing...it's neither good nor bad in and of itself. But, when we're negatively critical about artists and their music simply based on those personal preferences without any Biblical reasons, what we're really doing is showing our immaturity by criticizing the Great Artist. And that, in my humble opinion, is one of the real problems with modern Christian music.



CFHusband said...

having just discussed this post with my pastor, I realize that there is a lot of different aspects of this one idea. I shared just a little bit about this idea, and there are certainly several different ways we can discuss this, so, before you go disagreeing with me, consider, instead, adding a new direction to this discussion.

TerryKM said...

One of my fears is that Christian music is being influenced by these critics.

CFHusband said...

The Bible is a huge book, full of great Scripture and inspiration, ripe for worship songs...and it's been fueling great Christian music for about 2000 years. So, it's not like it should be difficult to write a unique song...right?

rockywebster said...

I agree with CFHusband, repetitive unoriginal lyrics are just a small aspect of the issue and not all of it is just the musical side of worship. I personally feel that worship leaders tend to dramatise their delivery of a message to manipulate the way the audience feel by using flash words, tone and entusiastic hand waving. I don't at all question the intentions of the artist or worship leader, and many of them are fantastic speakers and entertainers. But worship has become more about entertaining the audience and whoever can babble a fancy prayer the longest. The simple truth will do just fine. This is just my opinion though so feel free to disagree:)