“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, November 21, 2005


I was asked to list songs that made the list of 'acceptable' and 'non-acceptable' at our church. I am hesitant to do this as we are nowhere near settled on all songs, but I thought I would put together a sample to show where we are heading. I may add a few more samples as I go forward.

First, before I go any further; understand that these songs may be fine, and maybe you love them, but we have found them to be not acceptable for corporate worship at our church. I will put a few comments next to the songs so that, should you read this post, you will understand my thoughts.

The first song that we removed was one that is popular on the radio. It is done by a band that I like; Casting Crowns. However this particular song is not acceptable at our church for worship.

The song is 'Your Love is Extravagant', and here are the lyrics:

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, is intimate

I feel like moving to the rhythm of your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating, in our secret place

Your love is extravagant

Spread wide in the arms of Christ, is the love that covers sin.
No greater love have I ever known; You considered me your friend.
Capture my heart again.

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship is intimate

I feel like moving to the rhythm of your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place

Spread wide, in the arms of Christ, is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known!
You considered me your friend.
Capture my heart again.

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship is intimate

Now, some may say: "What is wrong with this song?" Well, read the words again, and what is the image that is conjured up? Is it God's Holiness, or the Finished Work of Christ, or is it an eros-based love? You see, although many would disagree, I will tell you that words have MEANING. If you put the above words on a piece of paper and removed the ONE mention of Christ from the lyrics, what would the song say to you?

UNDERSTAND THAT I AM NOT CONDEMNING CASTING CROWNS; I enjoy much of their music, some of the songs they have released are among my favorites, but understand that we are talking here about the corporate worship of God's people. The words ARE important, and these words simply do not point at our Lord and Savior in a way that is proper.

Here is another song that expresses the Love of Christ; look at the difference in the focus (whereas the above song is primarily about MY side of the equation, and ME).

Here is love, vast as the ocean
Loving kindness as a flood
When the prince of life our ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember
Who can cease to sing His praise
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heaven’s eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Flowed incessant from above
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

Any questions?


Ryan said...

No questions just agreement brother. Hymns used to teach great theological truths. That is not always so anymore. I hesitate to dismiss everything modern but it is usually hit and miss. I agree that too much of our worship is me-centric. The Casting Crowns song is a perfect example.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, a lot of songs that get sung in Churches are quite appalling.

Libbie said...

I call most modern worship 'Jesus is my boyfriend' songs.
However, there are some truly wonderful modern hymns, my favourites being In Christ Alone, How deep the Fathers Love, and I even quite like Blessed be your name by St Matt of Redman.

Ray said...

Yes, I must admit that most of the good music is coming out of Europe right now.

I really like Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend (which you mentioned several of their songs), and of course, St. Matt of redman... LOL

I plan on posting about some of the good modern worship soon...

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'In Christ alone' is just too Celtic for my taste. Thats just taste.

Ray said...

dyspraxic --

So, I assume that you do nto care for Robin Mark either? :-)

Charles North said...

Great thoughts Ray. Anyone can sing "Get Right Church" a hundred times, but try memorizing all verses of "A Mighty Fortress is our God." This is a struggle I'm dealing with every week as the battle between "old" and "new" songs rages here at my church.

Ray said...

Yeah, I am going to post regarding some new songwriters who are doing a great job...

Great theology does not have to mean pipe organs (excuse me Charles), or folks singing archaic words off-key a cappella...

The hymns have great theology and I promote hymns, but I also understand that there is a desire to have newer songs to sing as well (that does not mean throwing out the old).

Bob Kauflin said...

Great to see you writing on these issues, Ray, and it's interesting that we posted on the same theme at the same time.

You ask if you can imagine someone writing words like William Cowper today. Indeed i can. Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, Steve and Vikki Cook, and Mark Altrogge are a few names that come to mind. Not to mention the CD's of Indelible Grace which put great hymn texts to new music.

I don't think the issue is hymns vs. modern, but content vs. shallowness. Like many of the Psalms, the best songs for worshipping God seem to contain both unchanging objective truths about God and the Gospel and words that enable us to respond appropriately to those truths. May many more songs like that be written for our Savior's glory.

Bob Kauflin

Ray said...

I agree Bob... It is not about Hymns vs. modern music; it is definitely content..

And I also agree with you regarding the names you mentioned, I plan on doing one more piece on this subject and providing some examples of good, modern songwriters...

Actually there is much to be excited about; there is a resurgence of popularity for hymns and some of the young, talented folks have begun again to write theologically sound lyrics.

Thanks for visiting...

Paul said...

Ray, How about Christmas music/hymns? I'm looking for something new for a music concert. Love to hear your opinion on this.

Ray said...

Paul -- I think the traditional Christmas music is well-covered. I personally like Handel's Messiah, and some of the older, and lesser known hymns, such as 'Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming' (Great song on Piano).

Also, "What Child is This'.

My .02

Alex (Reason Music) said...

Hi there,

I'm part of a group from Sydney writing new music for churches and as well as some contemporary arrangements of old hymns, including that wonderful song "Here Is Love".

I noticed your comments and thought you might be interested in our site www.reason.mu which has a demo mp3 recording of that particular song, piano sheet music and guitar lead sheets (all free). There's also a new version of "Man Of Sorrows", and we'll be adding "Be Thou My Vision" over the next week or two.

There are two other original songs on there which (given the comments above) I'd be interested to see what you all think of, content-wise!

All the music is available at www.reason.mu/music.php. We also have some training resources for church musicians. Check out the site and feel free to let your music team know about it too if you think they'll find it helpful :)

Hope it's a blessing to you!