'Sloppy wet kiss', or 'Unforeseen kiss'? 'You give and take away' or 'You give and bless the day'?

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?


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In reading the responses to this discussion, I wanted to make one more comment to add to the mix:

In worship writing, as with any skill set, there is a great temptation to "romanticize" our musicianship, and become offended if someone wants to change something.  Everything I have ever written that has been published has had to go through someone's "taste buds."  Most everything has endured some form of editing process (especially the books....lol).  To say it is illegal to change lyrics is simply not true. Legality doesn't enter into the issue unless the song is to be recorded for profit.... believe me.  I remember one time being invited to share at a church and they sang one of my songs, but I didn't recognise it..... when they asked me what I thought about the song, I was just glad they had found something that helped their people express their own hearts to the Lord..... After all, that is the core reason (or should be) for writing in the first place -- helping people put into words their own hearts towards God.

The issue of holding to Truth rather than emotionality is a fine line when it comes to worship music -- Truth and our emotional "taste buds" (which by definition is our personal musical taste), should never become a polarized position from which we make decisions and determinations about worship as a whole. 


As worship leaders, we are called to serve the Body, helping them to find and then enter the ThroneRoom -- period. For that reason, I believe that changing the lyrics of a song should always be run through the senior pastor's viewpoint.... just sayin. But that opens an entirely new can .....  Blessings!


I agree - we shouldn't be offended if people take issue with our own creative choices. But I would beg to differ with you on the legality. It has nothing to do with the senior pastor or the desire to record and sell the song. The legality is well stated in CCLI and what we sign up for when we get a license. If the song(s) we wish to change are not covered under CCLI, we need to look at the provisions of the given licensing body. I don't personally know of any licensing body that allows anyone to change the lyrics of a song for any kind of performance. That being said, I've never met the song police either.

Here is what we are asked to agree to when we get a CCLI license:


4.1 Church agrees that it will not alter or change the basic lyric, melody, or fundamental character of any Song.

Also see under Song Editing:



In my little self-created morality, I think this is all very silly and the guy who wrote "sloppy wet kiss" made a few poor choices in that song. He shouldn't get bent out of shape if we make changes. 

Unfortunately, there's no room for personal opinion here on the legality of changing lyrics - it's illegal to do so even if it's only for your worship service. Recommending otherwise shows disregard for a governing body that frankly has gone pretty far to accomodate our needs. And recommending otherwise also makes us look bad to the rest of the world.

One church I served, on request of its pastor, changed "I'll Fly Away" so that the line "When I die, Hallelujah, by and by..." to "when I rise."  He wanted to get us to think not in terms of our body dying at all, but solely in being raptured.  This change accomplished:  1) depriving us the chance to consider death as a time for resurrection; 2) killing the poetic effect by introducing the 'flying' aspect too soon, and 3) creating a redundancy ("when I rise...I'll fly away" -- duh.)  Oh, and even that old song is copyrighted.

Why do people feel the need to change them?  No song is perfect.  Who sings the melodies the way they are written in those quickie download sheets CCLI provides?  Those are given only as a general guideline to how they are performed -- if we did them exactly as they appear... ewww.  Such voice-leading.  It isn't that they are intentionally made bad; it's that they are designed for the practical purpose of showing us in an economical way how the harmonies are laid out.  What musician wouldn't expect others to improve on his work?  We write, the performance date comes, we get it out there before it goes sour (tough world today, which demands we produce things before they are ready, and pick green fruit so it can be shipped).

For the last 6 months I have been the CCLI reporter for our congregation. (it sure has changed a lot since I did it back in the 1990s)

A few of our songs have such changed lyrics that I wonder how they got the way they are, 

An example:

"Tabernacle Lord Among Your People" by Kirk and Deby Dearman

Lyrics per CCLI:

O hallelujah hallelujah
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
Hallelujah hallelujah
Honor and glory to Your name

Verse 1
Tabernacle Lord among Your people
Let Your wondrous shekinah be made known
In the midst of the great congregation
Let Your glory and majesty be shown

Verse 2
We will bless You in the sanctuary
We sill sing and dance before Your throne
In the glory and splendor of Zion
We will lift our praise to You alone

Lyrics as we have had them for years:

O hallelujah hallelujah
Praise the God of Israel
Hallelujah hallelujah
Honor and glory to the Lord

Honor and glory to the Lord

Glory to the Lord

Verse 1
Tabernacle Lord among Your people
Let Your great shekinah be made known
In the midst of joy and celebration
Let Your glory and majesty be shown

Verse 2
We will celebrate Your Holy Presence
We sill sing and dance before Your throne
In the chosen dwelling place of Zion
We will lift up our praise to You alone

Who writes as song perfectly the first time?  We change our own songs as we mature, or as our perspective on life changes.  If it's our own song, we can do whatever we want with it.  Suppose Dave Moody hadn't fixed "All Hail, King Jesus" and gotten that weird redundancy out of it?   Of course, there is something to the original... if you read Scripture in the original Greek you get all kinds of goodness missing in translation (a form of revising a song, so to speak) - the proper flow of ideas, the word play and poetic style in passages we thought were just prose, etc.  But we fix it and make it "up to date" by putting it into our barbaric Saxon prose.  Hmp.


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