Worship Songs

Yay, blogging again! It’s been a while. Thought I’d jot some thoughts down about worship songs after spending some brain-time on it today (I bill my brain by the minute for thinking about stuff. It gets expensive).

I should note that I’ve never really written a worship song I’m happy with, but I figure commenting on them can’t be any worse than movie critics who only like arty movies no one understands, despite never having touched a camera in their life.

I like songs that tell a story. To me, a chorus is the summary, like the introduction of an essay except more interesting (hopefully). It lays out all your main points. Then the verses dig deeper into the story and lay it out in more detail. And the bridge, if you have one, tells you the happy ending.

Then worship songs have this extra element in them: Christianese. Christianese is a language made up of words only Christians understand, or pretend to understand. This is what causes those moments halfway through the church service where you’re singing and realise you have no idea what you’re actually singing about. To illustrate, I’ll annotate a very popular and (in my opinion) pretty cool worship song:

How Great is Our God

The splendour of a king
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
This verse is pretty user-friendly. There’s not many kings in the world these days, but people understand they’re supposed to be pretty splendiferous. No one says rejoice any more except in church, but we all know what it means.

He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice
I think this verse is my favourite. It’s got a bit of a superhero theme. Jesus is the hero with a blinding cape chasing the dark side, which runs away if Jesus even talks!

How great is our God
Sing with me, how great is our God
And all will see, how great, how great is our God
Not sure about the grammar in the last line, but Chris Tomlin isn’t famous for that anyway (Our God is healer?). Repetition either reinforces the point or gets very tedious depending on your perspective.

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
Despite most people using the word ‘ages’ in any situation where they have to wait longer than five minutes, I think most people understand that an age is a long time. So even the uninitiated should be able to tell that this means God is very old. Or has very sore legs.

The godhead three in one
This could get very confusing for newbie Christians, have you soon how many heads some hindu gods have?
Father, Spirit, Son
The lion and the lamb
The lion and the lamb
This is where things get really deep. Most Christians, when pushed to think of a lion relevant to their faith, would probably think of Aslan. Those who have heard of the lion of Judah would know it’s Jesus, but not why. Most Christians know Jesus is the lamb of God and have a basic background in Hebrew sacrificial rituals, but do not have enough time to mentally process this even when repeating the line.

Name above all names
This is Christianese, but fairly easy to decipher. Most people have a concept of some names being worth more than others. Ask anyone to list soft drink brands and they’ll think of Coke before Pepsi. Failing all that, the fact that the line contains a superlative (above all) gives the general impression that God’s Name must be pretty awesome, which anyone can understand.
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing how great is our God

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