About God and not about me, worship p 3
Why does worship (and worship leading) so easily degenerate into self-expression as the highest priority?
I remember the first time attending a large Vineyard Conference in Southern California. While everyone was worshiping, the worship leader stepped back from the microphone, weeping, composing himself, then stepping back up to lead. I was blown away because I’d seen leaders “milk their experience” to rev everyone up. He didn’t draw any attention to himself. I doubt very few even noticed what was going on with him.
Afterwards I approached and told him how much I respected him for not “working it” when God was touching Him. He said “Seriously?? I can’t even imagine people doing that…” all of which just furthered my respect.
Maybe self-expression dominates today because so many worship songs are marked more by “How I’m feeling” than by Adoration.?
Adoration is “the intense admiration culminating in reverence and worship, together with the outward acts and attitudes which accompany such reverence.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
Richard Schmidt in his book “Glorious Companions” points to Isaac Watts’ ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ as the first English hymn written in the first person. He says “Many at the time considered it vain because it called attention to the author rather than focusing entirely upon God.” Wow, seriously!?! Things have changed…
Schmidt goes on to describe Charles Wesley’s hymns (also in the 1700’s) as being “marked by their warm, personal tone.” That was awesome! A positive transformative shift was occurring, leading the worshiper out of dry formality.
Fast forward and it seems our worship is in need of a radical movement out of self-absorption into revelation of God’s greatness.
We could say the same thing as they did in their critique in the 1700’s, not because the word “I” is used a handful of times but because the rest of the words are mostly about us. The same song would more typically be “When I survey my desperate heart, I’m feeling dry and needing You…” Can we keep the warmth and change the focus?
Can we write more songs with authentic lyrics from the heart, but primarily God-focused? Can we write songs that describe God with vocabulary beyond “amazing,” “wonderful” and “awesome”? The Bible is full of God’s self-revelation, anything but boring or redundant…
There are encouraging signs… a movement is stirring among artists to rework hymns keeping the rich language but adjusting the music. Some are writing new songs along these lines of being more God-focused.
Surely God is up to something.