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?
With my singing, I'm pretty sure that I change the melody quite a lot ;-)
I can also think of quite a few instances when I've heard words get mangled in performance but that probably falls under the level what is acceptable (small type, words not next to the music on subsequent verses, etc). For example, with Matt Redman's How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place I have to make a conscious effort not to sing '... than thousands outside' (along the lines of the NASB, which I memorised years ago) instead of '... than thousands elsewhere' (NIV).
I suppose that exposes another level of ambiguity (Bible lyrics but from a different translation) but, since we are blessed with a surfeit of worship songs, the best advice if you can't stomach one is probably just to pick another.
Ha ha - they never said you can't change the harmony!
As for mangling songs, I always seem to mangle the line in Knowing You which says, "You're the Best". I won't admit that it's intentional, but I really hate that line. It's like Leave It To Beaver - "Gee Wally, you're the best!"
This does bring up an important point - the reference ground for the CCLI license is mostly surrounding the printing and projecting of the lyrics/music. What you forget to do live isn't really relevant from a licensing standpoint from what I can discern.
I wonder if, in the rush to generate business and be in control of 'our' creative output we've forgotten the purpose of writing worship songs? If we had a focus on both blessing God and sharing what He's inspired with each other, would we view copyright on songs differently? I can see arguments in both directions (though most of those against are based around how to feed all our suddenly unpaid & no longer professional song writers) but it's a point worth considering.
The idea of making money from writing a song is pretty much laughable; financial interest comes when people, having created a song, wish to circulate it, which requires expensive investment in equipment, time, feeding a publisher or studio, and so on. One thing I love about the plethora of social media sites is that today you don't need to pay outside people to circulate a song (unless you want one of those slick recordings without noise or glitches). So we're free to sing, free to share! FREE AT LAST!
For instance - you can't easily find certain popular artists songs and music on CCLI, you have to buy their printed material. And even then, it's not always accurate.
And yet, Paul Baloche puts his chord sheets and information up on his website all the time - for free.
In my former church, we rotated leaders, and each had his/her own way of outlining a melody. one guy was Nashville, with all the loop-de-loops and curlicues and hold-backs; another was love-and-peace folk-song style, straight, simple lines but going way down on the ends of phrases; another just sang pretty much the notes. When preparing songs for my new church, I saw that the lead sheets were useless -- but this crew actually reads music, so I have to defibrillate the lead sheet in the first rehearsal, or they will try to sing what is there, or we have instant arrhythmia, with all my rhythms out of phase with theirs (and, of course, their old favorites are all slightly different from mine). The rhythmic details are probably even more subject to alteration than the note outline itself.
Hi Lenny! I went into your profile page and listened through your stuff. I'm curious, as a wanna be writer, have you registered your work with CCLI? What kind of effort/cost does it entail?
"You give and take away" is actually scriptural and underpins the meaning of the song, "you give and bless the day" feels watered down.
As for "How He Loves", I couldn't use that song without completely changing it. For me, the lyrics are certainly fresh and modern, but I would want them to conform a bit more with scripture. It's to the extent that I would have to completely re-write the song. True, it's coming from a guy who's had a very intense and painful experience and inside of that context alone, the images are valid. But for me it doesn't allow me to teach or relate something that's coming from scripture.
I'm curious if anyone else has these thoughts:
- I don't resonate with the hurricane imagery. It's doesn't seem to come from a biblical perspective or at least isn't one I would take my congregation to intentionally.
- I don't see "me" as "God's portion" but God as mine. I can't see a scriptural way to make myself into God's portion. In every situation that I looked up, portions are something that we experience.
- "My prize" in scripture is an earned reward and those are well defined in scripture. For instance, one of them is the privilege of ownership and authority in His kingdom. Also, to call God a "prize" recalls too many plastic little toys I won at carnivals - just a wrong image for me to recall.
- The intense specific and personal situation that this relates puts it out of range for a congregation in my mind. I would look for more uplifting songs generally. I'm not afraid of discomfort, but this one is too specific and too biased in a specific direction. We generally need songs that are universal in their truths and my personal feeling is that they should relate a scriptural point of view, not a personal one. (This one is hard to explain...)
- The sloppy wet kiss metaphor is fresh and modern. However, I think it clashes a bit with imagery in scripture. If I were to imagine how God kisses, it would be more of a "holy kiss" or more like the kiss we see every day in the Arab world between a man and his son or between two men who are great friends - not at all sloppy. Also, "sloppy" reminds me of something in a more romantic direction. I'm not romantically involved with God as far as I know.
I'd suggest that the song is intended to be 'poetry' that tries to express feelings from a particular time. On that basis a lack of good theology is understandable, even though it limits the application of the song. If one were to introduce the song to a congregation then I'd hope there would be an explanation to that effect - frequently our feeling do not line up with good theology, but we live with them anyway, sometimes trying to make them fit better.
However I do agree about not using the song 'as is'.
There is so much worship music available, I do wonder why we feel the need to select stuff that doesn't work for various reasons. Finding something fresh or modern sounding isn't justification in itself.