26 February 2008

Christian Songs that Annoy Me (Part 3)

This installment's (dis)honor goes to Michael W. Smith for his horrendous attempt to garner more charismatic fans with the debacle known as "Healing Rain." Here are the lyrics, interspersed with my biting sarcasm and slightly insightful criticism (my comments are in red):

Healing rain (which is what, exactly?) is coming down

It's coming nearer to this old town

Rich and poor, weak and strong

It's bringing mercy, it won't be long

(good, 'cause we've been without mercy for some time now. . . what?)

Healing rain is coming down

It's coming closer to the lost and found

(Have you not read Heb. 4:16 or Luke 1:50?)

Tears of joy and tears of shame

Are washed forever in Jesus' name

(Yes, but not by some mysterious "rain," but by

the fact of our justification)


Healing rain, it comes with fire

(Again, what is this, exactly? And talk about mixing metaphors - rain comes as fire?)

So let it fall and take us higher

(I don't understand what "take us higher" means -

Michael, vagueness does not equal being spiritual or pithy.

It does rhyme with "fire," though)

Healing rain, I'm not afraid

To be washed in Heaven's rain

(All the occurrences of "rain" and "heaven" in the same verse

have nothing to do with Heaven, where we go when we die,

they refer to heaven (small h), another way to say "the sky")

Lift your heads, let us return

To the mercy seat where time began

(Stop the music! "The mercy seat where time began"?? Perhaps I'm being overly literal, but was there not time before the mercy seat existed, say, from Gen. 1:1-Ex. 25:17, where the word for "mercy seat" first appears in the Bible? My vote for where time began is "in the beginning")

And in your eyes I see the pain

Come soak this dry heart with healing rain

And only You, the Son of man

Can take a leper and let him stand

So lift your hands, they can be held

By someone greater, the Great I Am

Healing rain is falling down

Healing rain is falling down

I'm not afraid I'm not afraid


I'm not a big MWS fan to begin with, so this really didn't hurt to do. Again, Nashville, listen up: pay attention to the meaning, not just the rhyming, of words, especially since what makes Christian music Christian is the meaning of the words! This song doesn't make sense biblically or theologically, so it really can't be helpful to people who stop to think about or try to get what he's saying. Theology matters, and everyone is a theologian. Let us study God's Word, lest we blindly accept songs with all fluff and no substance as "poignant," and "lacking only time to become a classic" (actual comments I found about this song).

24 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse

There was a pretty sweet lunar eclipse the other night. Here's a look:

Not my best work photographically, but I didn't have a tripod.

You may wonder what the difference is between a lunar eclipse and lunar phases such as the crescent and the full moon. I refer you to this article for a good explanation (as well as
a cool animation of the moon's slight wobble).

07 February 2008

"Singable Doctrine"

There's an interesting article in the current issue of Christianity Today called "Singable Doctrine." It's an interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty, songwriters specializing in "modern hymns" that attempt to go deeper (doctrinally and existentially) than the modern worship movement has gone. If you know the song "In Christ Alone" (made popular by the Newsboys), you know the Gettys. Here's a few snippets from CT's interview.

Keith (on his emphasis on doctrine): "I wanted to do two things. One was to write songs that helped teach the faith, and the second was to write songs that every generation could sing. I don't think of music as only teaching, but I do think that what we sing profoundly affects how we think."

(On their success): "If you took a list of subjects, say, attributes of God in the Psalms, probably only 10 percent of them are used in virtually the entire canon of modern worship music. Modern worship songs tend to have a very thin range of subjects. They also tend to explore subjects in a less deep way than traditional hymnody does."

(In answer to "In a worship service, is there an ideal mix between contemporary worship, modern hymns, and classic hymns?") "I don't think there's an answer. You choose great songs that have great words and sing well. Every word you give people on a Sunday has to count for something. The same thing applies to what is sung - in fact, in some ways even more so. . . . If members of a congregation aren't singing, serious questions must be asked, no matter how good the show is at the front."

This was a very good (but short) article, especially for someone like me, who, on this blog, has at times been critical of modern worship and contemporary Christian music. The philosophy of the Gettys resonates with me. They are right: so much of modern worship is shallow and does not really touch on deep thinking or profound doctrine. Don't get me wrong; there is occasionally beauty in the simplicity of a "How Great is Our God" or a "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord," and for that I'm appreciative. But we Christians tend only to go as deep as we are led, and often that's about an inch deep. Emotionally, we go deep, but intellectually, we often don't.

I'll offer more on this another day. For now, I must go to work.