Bad Lyrics

Yesterday was a post focused around modern worship music being played too loudly in churches.

Today I’ll focus on a blog post written by John Stackhouse (same guy who inspired yesterday’s post). It seems that John would not only describe modern worship music as loud but also as being written with bad lyrics. And to provide fire for his argument he takes on Chris Tomlin (the modern worship giant). You can read the actual post HERE.

Here are a couple quotes from the post that stuck out to me:

“The man either doesn’t care about rhyming and settles for the merest assonance, or he lacks the skill or patience to actually craft rhymes…He also has no strong grasp of Scripture and particularly of the metaphors and allusions he uses.”

“Those of us who want to praise God with our minds as well as our hearts, as our Lord taught us to do, cannot just ignore bad lyrics. None of us can just ignore repeated wrong notes sung or played by worship leaders, and these lousy lyrics go ‘twang’ and ‘clunk.'”

His main example comes from a new song by Tomlin named “Praise the Father, Praise the Son.” The song is what I would call a “modern hymn” and it is one we have done at Sunset for about 6 months now. He has issues with the whole song, but specifically this clause:

These sufferings, this passing tide
under Your wings I will abide,
and every enemy shall flee;
You are my hope and victory.

To this Stackhouse says:

“Now we have a metaphor malfunction. If sufferings are passing over us like a tide, it’s not going to do us much good to be under Someone’s wings, is it? We’ll still drown. This is a common feature of Tomlin’s mix-n-match approach to imagery, a kaleidoscope of fragments that happen to occur to him and yet don’t make any sense once they’re set down together.”

Yep…Stackhouse brought it. I know I described him as “even-handed” yesterday. He doesn’t sound so even handed here I guess. K now for the opinion of someone who learned to play guitar to Chris Tomlin songs and has had the privilege of meeting him and singing songs written by him for over 10 years.

  • The notion that Tomlin has a lack of knowledge about Scripture is ridiculous. The clause Stackhouse ripped a part was essentially a re-wording of different portions of Psalms.
  • I have always thought that Chris’ lyrics reflect a strong view of the Bible and a Biblical theology.
  • Worship songs that rhyme at every possible point are annoying and cheesy to me. While John doesn’t like it when Chris doesn’t rhyme, I like it that he chooses not to all the time.
  • My favorite part of this song (Praise the Father) is that Chris got away from his “me” centered lyrics, that he writes with a little too often.
  • Chris usually co-writes his songs with Daniel (electric guitar player), Jesse (bass player), and Louie Giglio (leader of Passion, graduate of Dallas Seminary). Don’t just accuse Chris.
  • If someone wanted to accuse modern worship of being anything, I would think they would want to challenge song writers to stop being so “me” centered.
  • I’m not really sure how he can accuse Chris of being flippant with his lyrics. I don’t know any song writer who doesn’t write purposefully.
  • I never in a million years would have thought about the difference between a passing tide and under God’s wings. I have zero problem with the lyrics even now that John has pointed it out.
  • The entire song is focused around the Trinity. Why can’t we celebrate a modern worship artist writing about the primacy of the Trinity?

What does it mean to write a worship song with good lyrics?