My friend Scott Lenger, and I are going to start a little blog thread about worship music lyrics. We were inspired by a hopelessly bad blog about the subject (I won't link here. . .:) ) and thought we could contribute to the discussion. Off we go. . . .
Worship music lyrics:
As a worship leader and song-writer I interact with worship music lyrics alot. I try to write them, I sing them, I change them :), etc. . .
There are a few priorites I have when choosing songs and writing songs:
1. The lyrics should be biblically based and/or theologically correct.
I know that sounds really boring. But, that's our issue, not the song in question. When we sing we want to, ideally, sing what God has written for us to sing (Psalms. . the various songs in the N.T.) and when we write a "new song" we want it to be in line with what the bible teaches. If a song is way off on this. . . . I don't sing it. If it's close, I might try to change it, or at least make sure I talk about it with the congregation as we're learning the song.
Example: "Above all" by Lenny LeBlanc. I don't think he's a terrible person or anything,. . i've heard explanations of this song that work. . .but, for me to sing "you thought of ME, above all" (emphasis mine) would be untrue.
2. The lyrics should make sense or ring true when expressing emotion.
You save yourself alot of headache here if you have a balance of emotionally expressive songs and truth-declaring songs. Alas, many churches are heavy on the emotional expression, so this is a problem to deal with.
in the uber-famous worship song, "Breathe", it repeats the phrase "I'm desperate for You". I think I know what the author was trying to say, but it's not true that we are "desperate for God", in the sense that we don't have him, or he's holding out on us. If we're trying to convey our need for God, than I'm ok with it. Perhaps there is a better word than desperate.
In "Knowing You" it says "You're my all, you're the best. . "
I just feel funny calling God, "the best" like he's my mailman or something. . . "you're the best, dude!"
In "In the secret" by It says '"I want to touch you, I want to see your face". With how quick that line goes by in the song, I think it's important to remember that we can't touch God. . (folks died in the O.T. touching even the Holy Objects). Whether we will touch His Face in Heaven is up for debate, but, again, it would require some explanation in the service (and I'm not sure how that would go)
I don't use any of those songs above. Not a definitive statement, just my preference.
3. The song must be singable
This is a hard point, because there are many schools of thought. One way is to have everything easy to sing so that all feel comfortable singing the words. The other says that we should key things a bit high so that folks will have to "sing out" in order to participate, and will hopefully connect their heart to the song more as they really have to go for it while singing.
Being a tenor, I usually err on the side of #2, first of all, because I can't sing many of the low notes, and because I do think folks sing more passionately, when it all isn't "easy or comfortable".
David Crowder songs are another interesting topic, because for most of us, they're not phrases and melodies that we would be used to singing. However, his church sings them out with all their might. . . so this is a "church by church" issue.
This is already too long, so I'll get out. Your turn, Scott!