In our understanding of the communication aspect of language, the concept of “units of thought” is critical. At its lowest level of detail, a word comprises a unit of thought. However, the meaning of the word, in the context of the author’s intent, is best understood when one moves up to higher level units of thought – those of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books.

As John Holzmann shows us, another critical aspect of understanding the meaning to a passage of text, is that of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. In Get Myself into trouble…, he bravely addresses that tenuous issue of Worship Songs.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar, the words themselves: they matter very much to me. And I realize they mean much more to me than they do to the average bear. That’s my training. That’s a discipline I have pursued since I was very young. I realize that the structural elements of language make a difference, and so I seek to use them to the best effect.

I am concerned that [our church], in its worship/singing on Sunday mornings, seems, often, to ignore these elements . . . to the detriment of meaning.

Among the various songs he takes aim at is Everything, by Tim Hughes.

…at the tail end of the song, we wind up singing a heretical pantheistic affirmation that God is everything [“You are everything”]–repeated at least four times over (though, as I recall, [our worship leader] encouraged the congregation to sing it 8 times). Please! God is not “everything.” He made all of creation. He made human beings. Etc. He is not the things He made.But then, after a pantheistic affirmation, finally, the song winds up repeating a kind of Hinduistic mantra, a meaningless jumble of words: “Jesus everything.” Four times over on the screen. Eight times over as a congregation:

Jesus everything. Jesus everything.
Jesus everything. Jesus everything.

As above: Whatever is that supposed to mean? . . . Or is it the intention of [our church] to advocate that its members enter into a kind of mindless euphoria through thoughtless repetition of meaningless–but holy-sounding–words?

How many of the worship songs we sing, on Sunday mornings, fall into the trap of pushing non-Christian (or even heretical) ideas at the expense of thinking through more theologically proper songs? Do we dumb-down our worship songs to accommodate a touchy-feely culture, or in response to a less intelligent society? Or both?

In the Middle Ages, stained glass was used to illustrate narratives of the Bible because the populace was largely illiterate (as was the case in most societies in history). Now, it seems, we purposely cater to a culture that, despite the means and ability, prefers to feel than to think.

Also reference Holzmann’s post, Hymns and praise songs: what’s the difference?.

Filed under: ChristianityCultureRusty

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!