Sing Songs That Say Something

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on September 13, 2010

The words to our songs should be as strong and memorable as the tunes weset them to or the arrangements we put behind them.

At times I've chosen not to do a well-known song because I thought the music was more impacting than the lyrics. The catchiness factor surpassed the weightiness factor. I'm tempted to list some of those songs here, but that's really a decision you have to make yourself. When in doubt, leave it out.

Songs can say something in different ways. Objective lyrics tell us something true about God that helps us know him better. Most, but not all,hymns from the eighteenth century tend to focus on objective truths.

Subjective lyrics express responses to God such as love, longing, conviction, or adoration. Don't assume that a song that uses a lot of first-person pronouns is man-centered. Psalm 86 uses the personal pronouns “I,” “me,” and “my” thirty-one times in seventeen verses. But you're never left wondering who the focus is. God delights in strong emotions that are a response to revealed realities.

Reflective lyrics describe what we're doing as we worship God. We bringour offering, we praise, we sing, we lift up our hands.

These three categories aren't hard-and-fast divisions, and many songs contain all three perspectives. All three can contribute to strong lyrics. But when we don't major on objective truth, our songs can quickly drift into emotionalism and self-absorption. We start to worship our own experiences.

Again, that doesn't mean all our songs need to be theological treatises.But if our primary criteria for using a song has to do with whether it's popular or enjoyable to sing, we're going to have a hard time persuading anyone that truth matters more than music.

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