Why do modern worship songs use the same narrow vocabulary?
A friend recently posted the following comment on Facebook
“If God is the creator of all things and all creativity expresses His magnificence, why do modern worship songs all use the same limited, narrow vocabulary?”
This is the first of (at least more than one) attempt to answer that question – the usual caveats apply, ‘My experience may differ from yours and this is only my take on things right now; I reserve the right to change my mind in the future…’
At a Stoneleigh Bible week I attended a few (many) years ago there was a song that was really ‘big’ for the week. It captured something of the spirit of that event and was sung, enthusiastically, all week. We came back ‘home’ with it in our heads and hearts but it just wasn’t the same – outside that event it didn’t work and we dropped it very quickly.
So I learned that not every song we sing has to have a huge lifespan – not every work of art has to be a masterpiece.
It seems to me that if we create something that captures the essence of a moment and ‘speaks’ to someone then that ‘work’ was worthwhile. It doesn’t have to travel, it doesn’t have to last, it doesn’t have to change lives for generations to come if it did it’s job in that moment.
I would love every note I play to stir everyone who hears (and feels) it – to change their lives forever – and I try to make each note ‘count’. However I recognise that my own life has a few (but not many) of those world-changing moments in it.
It has many more tiny events – events that had minimal impact on their own but taken together have had a significant cumulative effect.
I’m sure that the creative spark within each one of us would love to create something of eternal ‘worth’ – something that will be remarked upon for generations – but there is also much to be said for an expression of a moment, a thought – however fleeting.
I wonder whether we expect too much.
Not every word we write, or song we sing, not every note we play or object we make is destined to last for ever or to impact a large number of folk.
I’m not sure that beauty has to be lasting, they say that every snowflake is unique – there is an amazing geometry about them but they don’t stick around that long.
Some of my favourite moments in worship are the ‘spontaneous’ music / songs that occur in the moments ‘in between’
They often catch something of the spirit’s stirring in the place and touch something deep within us and yet, hours (maybe even minutes) later they are forgotten – lost, except perhaps for the impact they’ve had on us.
Sometimes I regret that they are lost, but I think that if we created a moment of beauty together then that is enough.
Maybe some of the songs that are recorded and distributed have, by that process, an extended lifespan. Some of them will go on to speak to other people I guess but probably not have the same impact on every listener that they had in the moment they were ‘born’.
P.S. If, from the subject line, you were expecting to read about something different I can refer you to this (which I wrote back in November) but that’s all I have to say about change for now.