Saturday, 13 August 2011
What Is A Christian Song?
So did you try to sort the Christian music wheat from the secular chaff in my previous post? No? Head over there first and have a try! Or just cheat and read the 'answers' now!
Ready to find out which songs are Christian? Well I can't tell you that. But I'll name the songs and artists. Which may make things clearer. Or may not. I'd love to hear your comments and reactions.
1) You gotta let go and let God,
Sometimes from the get go you go hard
It's like, the darker it gets, the brighter my light will shine
So regardless I'm loving this life of mine
DMX – Jesus Loves Me doesn't reveal a strong grasp on theology but it's perfectly serviceable gospel rap from Gangster rapper DMX, who was recently released from the Mental Health Unit of the Arizona State Prison where he served a year for parole violation.
2) When He rolls up His sleeves, He ain't just putting on the ritz
There's thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists
And the Lord wasn't joking when He kicked 'em out of Eden
It wasn't for no reason that He shed His blood
Rich Mullins - Our God Is An Awesome God. Did you ever wonder why that song has no chorus? Well it does and now you know why you've never sung it in church. Strangely enough the estate of the late Rich Mullins has refused all offers of writing a new verse that wasn't, you know, barking mad.
3) Then came a man before His feet he fell
Unclean said the leper and rang his bell
Felt the palm of a hand touch his head
Go now, go now you're a new man instead
Queen – Jesus. Yes Queen. I know. Long before the parties filled with midgets carrying tray of cocaine on their heads, Freddie Mercury was telling the old, old story prog rock style.
4) I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
Cause I had to match the rhythm of his belly with my head
'Jesus Saves' is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And claimed he had a dream
DC Talk – Jesus Freak. In an otherwise perfectly fine song Toby McKeehan gives us and an image that could scars you for life. Does anyone really have a 'wiggley belly'?
5) I'm not f***ing around,
I'm not f***ing around,
I'm not f***ing around,
I'm not f***ing around...
Sufjan Stevens - I Want To Be Well. Maybe it's because he seems a few states short of a Union or maybe because it wasn't a diatribe aimed at the church, but where Derek Webb crashed and burned Sufjan succeed. 16 F bombs in a row and Christendom didn't even blink.
6) Help me carry on,
Assure me it's OK
To use my heart and not my eyes
To navigate the darkness.
Hoobastank - Crawling In The Dark. If a Christian tried to write a song about what it's like to be lost they couldn't do better than this.
7) I ain't here to argue about his facial features,
But here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way I need Jesus
So here go my single, dog, radio needs this
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played?
Kanye West – Jesus Walks. Imma let y'all finish but Jesus is the best saviour of all time...
8) At the temple of the Incas
There's fountain flowing cheese dip
Then they smuggled it to Texas
Then they tricked us with the free chips
It's mind control in a salsa bowl
I'm not even sure I remember how I got here
Andrew Peterson – Alien Conspiracy (The Cheese Song). Sometimes all the Tolkien, Lewis and Wendell Berry in the world can't fill that natcho shaped hole in our hearts. Has also written a great song about a penny.
9) Oh, satan is an evil charmer (shut de dó, keep out the debil)
He's hungry for a soul to hurt (shut de dó, keep the debil in de ni-eet)
And without your holy armor (shut de dó, keep out the debil)
He will eat you for dessert (shut de dó, keep the debil in de ni-eet)
Randy Stonehill – Shut De Do. I used to love Randy Stonehill's singer/songwriter/stand up shtick back in the day, but don't know how I feel about the white guy does negro-spirituals gig now.
10) Now let my people go, land of Goshen
Go I will be with thee, bush of fire
Blood running red and strong down the Nile
Plague, darkness three days long, hail to fire
Metallica – Creeping Death. Growing up in the Christian Science cult gave James Hetfield an acquaintance with the book of Exodus if nothing else.
11) Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
William Blake – Jerusalem. Move over Lord Of The Dance. This is the most non-christian christian song of all time. Lively up Church services by shouting “No he/they/it didn't” at the appropriate times. Who says Christian education can't be fun?
12) Rod's in the closet, a six shooter in hand
A caged up gorilla and three local bands
Fluently the parrot speaks six languages not known to men
A sixpence and a quarter as the audience he scans
King's X – Six Broken Soldiers. King's X started out as your average 'Not Christian Christian band' before singer Doug Pinnick came out of the closet and they stopped singing three part harmonies. Not even they knows what this song is about. But it may have something to do with a toyshop in Austin, Texas.
13) So warm inside You open up so wide
You let me walk right into You
No dark, just light Your love is undisguised
I know where I belong when I’m with You
Brenton Brown – With You. We all have skeletons in our music closets. Brenton's from the Vineyard UK album Surrender, makes every other 'divine bromance' songs seem like a summer fling. The Barry White of worship music?
14) Now that I know what I feel must be right
I'm here to show everybody the light
Give the word a chance to say
That the word is just the way
It's the word I'm thinking of
And the only word is love
The Beatles – The Word, proving that anyone can sound spiritual so long as you keep it vague enough.
15) You can put all of my possessions here in Jesus' name
Nail a sign on the door
Bright and early Sunday morning with my walking cane
I'm going up to see my Lord
Tom Waits – Take Care Of All My Children. Written for a documentary about homeless children by the man who likes to write “beautiful melodies telling you terrible things”
16) I used to lie awake at night
And see your face on the ceilin’
What a great feelin’ I have
When I think of how you’re gonna get yours
At the end of the world
Keith Green – Dear John Letter (To The Devil). 70's radical troubadour Keith Green could weep tears of compassion in one song and then make you crack a smile the next. Oh and people got healed when he sang 'Easter Song'. I'm just saying.
So what have we learned? Sometimes Christians write songs that are clearly not about anything uniquely Christian. Sometimes people who are clearly not Christians write songs that are biblically true. And there's a whole lot of music somewhere in the middle.
That's exactly the kind of issues I'm tackling in a four part series over at Krown Media's website. I hope you join me over there and join the debate. Leave me a comment here first though. Can a non-Christian write a Christian song?