Monday, February 05, 2007

Songs in Church

There seem to be two main schools of thought as regards songs in church, and two things people are fussy about.

The first is theological soundness. This is something I am very fussy about. I find it very distracting when I realise I don't agree with what I'm meant to be singing. For example, on Sunday I was subjected to this offering:

Gonna shout out loud,
Gonna deafen the crowd,
Gonna send my praise to heaven.
When you’ve got such a lot,
When you’ve got not a lot,
Be happy!
from "I'm gonna jump up and down (Be happy)" by Doug Horley

I couldn't escape the implications that:

  1. singing louder means it's more likely that God will listen to you (which kind of goes against what Jesus says)
  2. it's important to be happy in every situation (rather than joyful even through the tears, which is very different)

The second thing people tend to look for is legitimate emotional expression - the singing should be joyful when it's praising God, sorrowful when lamenting our sin, etc. I find it distracting when they get this wrong too, but nowhere near as distracting as with the soundness.

Sad to say, people in charge of singing seem to come in two categories as well. The type who are very good about soundness and don't care about the tunes or the emotion and the kind who are good with the tunes and emotion but aren't fussy about the lyrics. Both are necessary.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that your first point is valid. "Gonna shout out loud...Gonna send my praise to Heaven" reads to me like the author feels they needs to shout loud in order for God to hear them. It reads to me like they want to praise God because He's so good, and they're going to praise him with all they've got.

John said...

I read it as a triplet with intensification - shouting loud / deafening crowd / sending praise to heaven.

I think your interpretation is certainly an interpretation I'd like more, but I don't take it as the natural one.

It might well be a case like "I want to be a blooming tree", where it's not the intended sense, just the one that some people read.
Or even "For, O my God, it found out me"...

Anonymous said...

Well, it's the interpretation I'd naturally assume. I suppose it shows that we're different people whose experiences have made us come at stuff from different angles, and be paranoid (if that's the word) about different things. Ah well. And you confused me with your other two references, but don't feel you have to spell them out for my sake.

Oh, and I read the first line as an ascending triplet too. I was just too lazy to type it all!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but did you join in with the actions?! ;-)

John said...

Some of them. I'm actually rubbish with actions, partly because it means concentrating on more than one thing at once.

For the same reason, I'm rubbish at singing when I'm being distracted by how poor the words are...

Liz said...

Jumping in late to this, but it's written as a Kids worship song, so maybe just felt odd in an adult worship setting.I'm also NOT saying that it doesn't matter what words kids sing, but they would respond to this lyric based on their current understanding and actually naturally enjoy all the bouncing around - which, I hasten to add, gets knocked out of them when they see adult role models not overflowing with joy in worship just because they don't like the song. Worship isn;t just about us and how we feel - as you know, but also in the wider congregation, we have a responsibilty to encourage each other in expressions of worship - BIG ISSUE!

Dusty_DCM said...

OK, if Liz was late, I'm trespassing on eternity.

The context of the whole song - rather than the two excerpts you've put together - doesn't bear out what you state:-

I’m gonna jump up and down,
Gonna spin right around,
Gonna praise Your name forever.
I’m gonna shout out loud,
Gonna deafen the crowd,
Gonna send my praise to heaven.

I will run this race
And I will never stop.
I’ll follow Jesus
Till the day I drop.
I can do all things
Through Christ who strengthens me.
When you’ve got such a lot,
When you’ve got not a lot,
What? Be happy!

Doug Horley. Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music

Surely this must be seen as a song for children with a series of statements declaring wholehearted praise and commitment, about being strong enough in Christ's strength to living a wholly devoted life. Across the generations, children's songs enable them to enjoy being in church (vital) and express faith in their idiom. We use them in children's work and when the adults present are uninhibited (and able to multi-task) enough to cope.

John said...

I agree that it's really important to engage kids with worship and praising God and so on. (Having said that, when I was a kid, my favourite song was "Wide, wide as the ocean" because if I stood right, when I did the actions I could hit people.)

And thinking about it a few years later, the last line of the first verse could be understood as "God, I'm going to praise you so much that even if you were hard of hearing (which of course you aren't), you'd hear me, because that's how passionate I am about you." And that seems fine to me.

Dusty_DCM said...

Yes, I think I can go with that - and for children to learn to be unashamed follower of Jesus at an early can can be no bad thing...

Unknown said...

Hi all. If you are still looking at this thread after all this time. I am about to teach this song to my BB company in parade service.

I seem to be missing something because I have no problem with the words of the song. Shout out loud your praise, teach the children to be proud of God and not afraid to say they are Christians. It has nothing to do with God being hard of hearing. Teaching children to be happy all the time, I agree, is not totally scriptural, but teaching the children that to rejoice in all things is, It is just put in a great way that children can get their heads around easily.

John said...

Well, yeah. I always was a pedantic child, and I'm a lot less pedantic now than I was when I wrote the post...