Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Christian Songs that Need to be Rewritten, #1: Prince of Peace

(by Michael W. Smith)

You are holy (You are holy)
You are mighty (You are mighty)
You are worthy (You are worthy)
Worthy of praise (Worthy of praise)

I will follow (I will follow)
I will listen (I will listen)
I will love You (I will love you)
All of my days (All of my days)

I will sing to (You are Lord of Lords)
And worship (You are King of kings)
The King who (You are mighty God)
Is worthy (Lord of everything)
I will love and (You're Emannuel)
Adore You (You're the Great I am)
And I will bow down (You're my Prince of peace)
before You (Who is the Lamb)
I will sing to (You're my living God)
And worship (You're my saving grace)
The King who (You will reign forever)
Is worthy (You are ancient of days)
I will love and (You are alpha, omega)
Adore You (beginning and end)
And I will bow down (You're my Savior, Messiah)
Before You (Redeemer and friend)
You're my Prince of Peace
And I will live my life for You

What's wrong with it, you ask? Look at the lyrics. What is it about? The title and chorus say "Prince of Peace," but the rest of the song is totally generic and not about this at all! There's nothing else in the song to tie it to the idea that "You're my Prince of Peace." You can substitute any other name or title of God instead and it will still be as relevant as "Prince of Peace" - in fact, many other choices would be more suitable.

A critic compiling his list of the 100 worst pop songs ever used this criteria to include Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire": a list is not a song. Is this a fair criticism? I think it is in this case. There are too many worship songs which are just endless and meandering lists of God's names and/or attributes. There are exceptions when the list is beautifully set to a suitable melody, but this isn't one of them.

It may be OK as a private worship or meditation, but it's not focused or coherent or polished enough for corporate worship.

We need to worship with our minds, not just with catchy or upbeat tunes.

Update: one sister points out that the alternate title of the song is actually "You Are Holy." That actually worsens the problem, as "
You're my Prince of Peace" then ambushes us, jumping out with no context - unless you could simultaneously follow the women's part, which mentions "Prince of Peace," and which is written as a driving, monotonous, throwaway part. Someone else said it's a fun song to sing.

No comments: