A Courteous Contrararian

Worship Music

Written By: Jon - Sep• 03•14


About a year ago, I became the worship leader at Standing Stones Church. It is a position I am still growing into.
There’s nothing like a change in position to bring about a change in perspective. I think about worship music so differently than I did a year ago.
A year ago, I could worship as led by the church band but I could be dissatisfied with some of its elements. Although I wanted electric guitar, bass, and drums, I also wanted more hymns. I didn’t understand why we repeated the same simplistic Bridge line seven times. Some of the lyrics we sang made me cringe, like “Jesus is mine.” Jesus is MINE? I thought that I belonged to him!
But mostly I suffered through the empty boasts we flung toward Heaven. I sang promises to follow after God every minute of every day. How I wish that that were true.

Now I see music, and our job when leading worship, much differently. God took me through a process of learning to see worship through the eyes of those I served. Many Standing Stonians didn’t see music the way I did, and I wasn’t there to please myself. The process took months and a major turning point came when our drummers suggested we learn a new song, Oceans.
I fell in love with the song as I hadn’t loved a song in years. It was powerful, brilliant and honest. Then I realized the Bridge repeats six times. And it wasn’t a simple little one line bridge, it was eight lines long.
Spirit lead me
Where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper
Than me feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

The bridge alone repeated for over four minutes. The average radio song last less than three and a half minutes, the whole song!
And each chorus ended with that dreaded line, “I am yours, and you are MINE.” Yet I loved the song. What had happened to me?
I came to see “I am yours and you are mine” as nothing more than a modern iteration of God’s oft-repeated promise, “And I will be their God and they shall be my people.” He is mine in that he is most definitely my God and I, of course, remain his as well.
AS for the droning Bridge; for the first time I understood the purpose of it. It is implicit in the lyric. The repeat allows time for the Spirit to truly lead us.
The first time or two through, we sing it. Then we can forget the singing and move to a truer worship. Then we can absorb the message like we absorb calories at a meal. They both become part of us, even if only for a time. And finally there is room in the repetition for the petition: oh that we might be led by the Spirit in just such a manner!

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