Thursday, 21 June 2012

The need for a new sound

There must be more than this.

Please, there has to be more than this.

More than endless 'Christian' songs that repeat the same words to the same chord sequences.  

It's not the chord sequences that really bother me.  Just the misconception that so many musicians are living under, that their inspiration and expression should come solely through words that have already been written.  The Psalms, Isaiah and others are all great books, and they rightly point us towards God.  They demonstrate an outpouring of a heart that is truly filled with awe and glory of our great God.  And they can be literal instruments to leading us into His presence.  But they were never, ever intended to be a boundary that we cannot cross.  Whilst it is absolute truth that we are a city on a hill, a light on a lampstand, that God is my refuge and fortress, and other familiar phrases like these, when we use them so many times they become cliches and utterly lose the incredible power they held when they were originally used.  He does indeed hold us in the palm of His hand, our names are written in His book - but are we so familiar with these words, that we stop to think what that actually means?  In the hands of the One who created each intricate part of the Earth, who flung - FLUNG - stars into space, who SPOKE life into being. We are in His hands.  Surely if we really understood that, instead of being able to quote from memory countless songs that tell us so, we would move with far greater authority and love than we currently do, because we would be so secure in who we are, in whose Name we act, and the power we carry.  

Listening to Christian radio yesterday, I became so frustrated with some of what I was hearing.  Maybe I need to crank up my tolerance levels, and remember that people may be simply writing and singing out of the stage they have reached in their relationship with God - I know that my own relationship and understanding has grown so much in even just the past year, yet in many ways is still so young and immature.  But I also believe that as musicians we have a responsibility to be careful about what our songs teach others.  Just because we are not in the pulpit doesn't mean that we are not transmitters of theology.  Our words, our melodies, will point people somewhere.  But will they point to the true God, or instead to a distorted image that we have painted and believe to be true?  One song I listened to expressed how the writer would try his best to do what He believed what God wanted of him, but was learning how to lean on God to fill the gap.  NO!  Father God is not, and has never been, a gap-filler.  What is he, some sort of sealant, tiling grout holding us together?  When we picture it this way, it seems ridiculous to imagine.  But that's the idea we promote when we suggest that we are supposed to do as much as we can and then we have to look to God to do the rest.  Okay, yes, I can see where they are getting the idea, but it's not truth.  We are called to operate out of the fullness of God - Jesus looked to the Father first before acting, and kept on looking to Him for guidance and strength as He kept going.  His eyes were fixed on Daddy from the start, He never started something for which He had not been equipped.  He didn't start a miracle and then say, 'well Father, up to you now, I've done all I can'.  Working from the fullness, not the top-up.  

I'm aware that this is a rambling mess of thoughts, and that I am maybe not being fair.  I do hope that I am not suggesting through all this that the words of others can't help us in expressing our emotions to Daddy.  Equally, there is grace for all of us as we grow in our understanding of who He is and who that makes us.  But I have always believed that just because a person can sing, play an instrument, or construct words into pretty forms that fit to music, does not mean that they must record and publicise our work.  As musicians our first responsibility is to love and worship our God - our giftings are to help us worship Him, and it is possible that some of the fruit from this may be music that others should hear.  It's not a foregone conclusion, although in today's society that screams at us that anyone with music talent should be recording and promoting themselves, it's an easy trap to fall into.  Musicians must take their responsibility as seriously as any church leader - because if people are humming our melodies, singing our words, we need to be sure that we are strengthening their foundations and not weakening them.

David, the shepherd and King, has much to teach us on this subject.  He pursued God, and his words were the outpouring of a constantly deepening relationship with his Creator.  Our words should be the same - not just a repetition of what others have discovered, but instead the personal revelation He has brought to us through the times of intimacy we have spent together.  It's a responsibility we have to acknowledge and accept if we are going to share our songs with others.  Oh, and there's responsibility for us who sing the words of others, too.  I'm listening to words 'He is jealous for me, love like a hurricane, I am a tree.... and all of a sudden, I'm unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory'..... do I really know His love to be like a hurricane, that is so powerful, so incredible, that I am bowled over by it?  Do I search for His glory, and find that when I do, He is greater than anything I can be troubled by?  And if I don't, then why I am singing that I do?

This is a personal revelation I am working through, I'm not entirely sure what to say or do next.  I think the answer has to be personal - it has to impact my own times of worship and intimacy with the One I love.  Then what I do will pour out from there, and I know that I am playing my part in being responsible for what I sing out.  

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