Just wondering what people's views are on changing lyrics of popular worship songs such as 'How He Loves' (by John Mark McMillan) and 'Blessed be Your Name' (by Matt Redman).
The original version of How He Loves had the line:
'Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss'
but some of the covers of the song changed the line to:
'Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss'
Similarly I've heard that some people change the line in Matt Redman's song 'Blessed be Your name' from:
'You give and take away' to 'You give and bless the day'.
Presumably this is legal and the artist's permission was sought before making these changes to the song lyrics - but why do people feel the need to change them? Why not just use a different song?
Question -- are you a musician? If the answer is yes, then you can't have any idea how hard that song is for a non-musician to learn how to sing. The chorus IS simple....but, that's it. So, are you going to just sing "how He loves us" for 20 minutes?
That song should never have made it onto a worship stage. The next time you play it, watch the faces of new people trying to learn it -- how hard it is for them. Not to mention the lyrics to the whole song are not appropriate for a congregation -- it's NOT song that brings all of the congregation into worship *together*. It's a GREAT song to do as special music. That's it.
I'm really rather disgusted with what passes for worship songs today. They're all for the most part performance songs....not congregational worship songs. I personally believe the average church in America is STARVING for a move of the Spirit in worship, because we are feeding our congregations processed, regurgitated junk food of "cool worship songs we hear on the radio".
Was it David Crowder who changed the line to "unforeseen kiss"? That's how we've learned it with the youth band at my church and, theologically, I think it is a much better line. There was nothing sloppy or soppy about the incarnation, ministry, passion and victory of Christ, but "unforeseen kiss" captures both the unexpected nature and deep love of this grace.
It is interesting how songs do change over time. For example, I've rarely come across the "The earth shall soon dissolve like snow..." verse used in Amazing Grace. In fact, plenty of hymns get edited so that certain verses are missed out; we can't do this with most modern songs, of course, because there just aren't enough verses to pick from!
I will be disappointed though if, in years to come, "give and take away" gets watered down from "Blessed be your name". Recognising the challenges of the situation Kaye described, I still would have stuck with the original; to me, the song is all about choosing to trust in God even in the face of dire situations; without that, I'd rather sing a different song entirely (given that it is yet another I IV V vi harmony demanding a wide vocal range for the melody).
As a general principle, I'd rather pick a different song that says what I want than start tweaking an existing one. That said, most songwriters don't have much of a leg to stand on - for example, Matt Redman rewrote "Nothing But the Blood" as "Your Blood Speaks a Better Word" and substantially edited Lowry's original.
John Mark McMillan's blog and thoughts on the lyric change. Good read.
We have done it both ways. Recently our drummer read to us the story behind the song which brought to light the intense emotion from the circumstance the writer was grappling with. With that understanding I would now empathetically choose "sloppy wet kiss'.
My tongue is sore from biting it.
I love the song "How He Loves." And, I completely agree with Teresa. Yes, the chorus is simple and singable. But the verses lack the objectivity necessary for congregational singing. Doing these types of songs in church is to transition from a worship band it a Christian cover band IMHO.
Further, I'm struggling to find a reason other than pure biblical illiteracy to change "Blessed Be Your Name." ESPECIALLY when facing adversity or death. The death of Job's children was the very circumstance that brought this statement about. The fact that God takes away is not a downer. It's a joy to know that He alone, our loving heavenly Father, takes away. This is my favorite thing to share with people in their grief. I'm saddened that so many seem to miss this.
Yes, I'm replying to my own post. After re-reading some of the discussion on here, I realize that others have expressed my feelings about "How He Loves" more eloquently than I.
Also, my opinion on that song is based upon leading a multi-generational and multi-cultural service. I can acknowledge that there are, perhaps, some settings where the emotive lyrics would be more widely understood and appropriately facilitate corporate worship. In such a setting, I would think that any changing of the lyrics would be unnecessary.
I couldn't care less about the legality part. I generally don't like changing lyrics, more because of the idea of a visitor from another church. Besides, these days there are too many good songs out there to waste my time with one that I need to change.
It really helps if we know the biblical story and theological implications behind the songs that we choose (and perhaps even "tweak" lyrically). We did "Blessed Be Your Name" today, and as always, I simply omitted the bridge.
I think the song is awesome, except for the bridge. Why? Because the statement "you give and take away" represents a theology that Job ultimately repented of. If you're uncertain of this, have a fresh look at the book of Job. Yes, Job's immediate response to the calamity was, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (1:21, NIV). Because this statement is found in the Bible (and perhaps also because it sounds kind of noble), we assume that it must be truthful in what it says about God. But that's not the case here. This was a statement JOB made about his own theology in the wake of massive personal calamity.
Just watch. It doesn't take long for Job to get spittin' mad at God, and his intense anger is rooted in this overly simplistic theology which assumes that nothing happens in this world that God doesn't somehow personally will, and have a direct hand in causing. If we gain, it's because God gave; if we lose, it's because God took away. But are our gains and losses really as simple as that? God's whirlwind speech at the end of the book shows that the problem of evil is massively complex, far beyond our ability to understand. Job has no idea of the shadowy accuser who's pacing the heavenly courts in the beginning of the book. There's an unseen villain in this story. Yes, God mysteriously does give latitude to Satan. But a major point of the whole book is that things are not nearly as simple as we often make then out to be. He gives and takes away? It's much more complicated than that, Job.
What's so amazing about the man Job was that even though his initial overly simplistic theology gave him every reason to reject God, he still does not do so. This remains the case in spite of his anger toward God, which grows throughout the chapters of the book, until Job repents of his simplistic views, saying, "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (42:3).
In my congregation, as with any, there are people who have faced tragedy and loss, and what they've been through is rarely ever as simple as "He gives and takes away." As a pastoral counselor, I've seen that kind of "everything happens for a reason" theology do real damage to people emotionally and spiritually. So when I lead worship and we sing this song, I omit the bridge. But it's still always good to sing "blessed be the name of the Lord" (the verses and chorus!) in any every season.
Was every single thing that Job said before the whirlwind speech an example of false theology that he ultimately repented of?
I don't think so.
The complicated-ness of life does not in any way diminish God's ultimate sovereignty. Yes, God does allow Satan a certain amount of room in which to operate in the present age, but that doesn't change the fact that God as Father can and does take things away from His children, just as we who are earthly fathers sometimes take things away from our children either to discipline or protect them.
There are enough Biblical examples of God taking things away from His people (such as God taking Israel's land away from them for about 70-odd years) that Job's statement "The Lord gave and the Lord took away" represents a theology that, peoperly understood (not flippantly, as fatalistically-minded Christians might be tempted to apply it), accurately represents the nature of God.
Usually, when God "takes away", it is disciplinary action because of some form of disobedience (as in the case of the Israelites, time and time again.) What made Job's case so unique, therefore, is the fact that he had NOT been disobedient, which can also give great hope to those who have endured suffering for one reason or another that have also not been disobedient. My friend's son was tragically killed at 18 months old. She grieved for her son, but for not one second did she turn her back on God. Her faith spoke volumes to so many unsaved folks that came to his funeral. It was truly supernatural -- amazing. That was a heart of Job!
Lost friends, lost meals, lost sleep, lost health... Paul lists all these things as being results of his serving Christ in 2 Corinthians. I suppose you could argue that an omnipotent God isn't technically "taking away" things He is well able to provide. I guess. Paul speaks of his "thorn in the flesh" as a gift. If God refused to take away a handicap, I suppose you could argue to exclude "He takes away" from this song... And God refused His Son's request to "take away" the cup of suffering he was facing...
But if God refuses to "take away" suffering, isn't He tacitly "taking away" health?
Wow. That's one odd reading of that text. Think you might be reading thing INTO the text, to be quite frank. Just read Job over again. Yep, Job repenting - not only not there... not necessary! He was said to be the only one who spoke rightly of God in the whole book! The bridge of that song is near a dear to my heart - a great source of healing & hope every time I sing it... I'm so glad that there are no "mere accidents", but that a big God holds even my disappointments in His mighty hands.
1. I don't equate "He gives and takes away" with "everything happens for a reason."
2. To embrace the verses of this song is contradictory to your argument.
3. While possibly simplistic, it's still true.
4. Job repented for questioning God, not for attributing omnipotence to Him.