Just a point of note….this post will make a good bit more sense to you if grew up in churches like I did…so
This much is undeniable, church music is different than it used to be. This is true from lots of perspectives but I want to focus on one in particular.
Maybe it was just the church I grew up in but when I was a kid it seemed like SO many songs revolved around Old Testament pictures and language of who God is, what God is like.
We sang songs like this…
Frankly, I love this stuff….
Now, to be sure these songs are dated in a few ways. From a musical standpoint, something was up in the late 80’s and early 90’s that caused the church to get on some sort of strange Russian or Jewish orthodox sounding kick (am I right, James??). I honestly don’t know what that was about. But it’s a fact that when I was 8 years old and everything sounded like Stephen Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris, Poison or Nirvana, the whole fiddler-on-the-roof sound made quite an impression on me. It was foreign and other-worldly. I am older now and I can listen to those songs and I know exactly what they are playing and how they are playing it and so it has probably lost some of its mystery. But it’s still interesting. But here’s what is strange to me about these songs (…or at least how we see them today). It feels like they are dated lyrically. And I don’t understand that.
First, it seems like most of these songs have like 10 lines total…they just repeated them over and over. Let this be a lesson to those of us who write songs for church…
Second, and this really is just my opinion, it seems like the writers of these songs were into singing about God in a way that we don’t really do today. There was a commitment to singing scripture almost word for word that, honestly, we find almost comical today. We joke about the song “As the Deer” at least once a week. But its almost straight from Psalm 42! That makes me a little bit sad when I think about it.
I’m not even sure what my argument is here in this post. There were plenty of goofy songs back then. Don’t get me wrong. There was just a certain strain of song back then that I thought (and think) was awesome in a way that we aren’t coming anywhere close to today.