Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On hymns and spiritual songs

I understand comments about some songs seeming too "me-centered." There are definitely songs which fall into that category.

However, I don't think we can tell by just counting how many "I"'s or "me"'s there are in the song. Amazing Grace is full of first-person references; and even the Psalms are, starting with Psalms 3 and 4. I think it's unavoidable because of the special nature of our relationship to God.

There are some songs and hymns which give glory to God because of his attributes, especially related to being Creator. These sing of his power and wisdom. But since the defining attribute of God is love, we should expect much celebration of the relational aspect, and it's difficult to do so without saying what God has done "for me" or "for us." Although we extol his power in creation, Christ did not die for the earth or the universe; Christ died for us, so that we could have a personal relationship with him. And I'm sure we agree that's much more important to him than all the galaxies he created. The earth will pass away (in fact he will take a large part in bringing that about) but that relationship will not.

There are songs which are too syrupy, or seem to me too me-centered, or just mindless wastelands of lists of titles of God, or just plain lazy writing, and I've tried to weed them out. But unfortunately many of them are meaningful to others, and I accept that they may continue into Heaven (now there's a sticky theological thorn!). My consolation is that in God's grace (and good taste) he will spare me from having to ever listen to them. Perhaps we will have "song filters" built into our heads.