Recently our pastor watched a video of a new song that presented a powerful message - the pictures worked convincingly with the words on the screen, which a soloist sang, along with a praise team and maybe even a children's choir on the chorus at the end.  I watched it and confirmed - yes, this is a song we should sing this Easter.  It's about how Jesus, on the cross, reconciled us sinners to God - made us perfect in His sight.

The only trouble was that we couldn't get a video at the time that just had the images (it was to be for a Praise Team special, and not congregational - maybe later).  So we simply sang it without images.

What was revealed was a song which was rich in pictorial images and good, relevant Scripture fragments, but they were all jammed together.  The pictures made this jumbled, ambiguous poetry make sense, emotionally; but the effect was of throwing words at the pictures and letting the viewer decipher the whole thing.  In other words, the words simply did not communicate the idea.  They hinted at it, but did not say it plainly or poetically.

We tried the song a few times after Easter, and got confused reception.  Finally both the pastor and praise team members that liked the video said, "we don't have any special need to sing this", for which I thanked them profusely.

Now, over the years, both in old hymns and contemporary songs, I've encountered bad poetry.  But I haven't seen poetry that was specifically designed to work with a video, but not stand alone.  Have any of you out there experienced this sort of thing?  I hope it isn't a trend - unless the future is in multimedia, where word and image must grope together to establish meaning.

I'm curious - and looking for some answers to the questions this experience brings up.

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A good thing to read is The Humiliation of the Word by Jacques Ellul.  It has helped me to understand this visual vs. word difficulty - though I am on my third reading, since the translation from the French creates many difficulties of its own.


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