A Grown Man Reads Praise Song Lyrics

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Yes, by all means criticise the dross, but even questionable churches produce some decent music with sound lyrics. Here’s “Man of Sorrows” from Hillsong:

    Man of sorrows Lamb of God
    By His own betrayed
    The sin of man and wrath of God
    Has been on Jesus laid

    Silent as He stood accused
    Beaten mocked and scorned
    Bowing to the Father’s will
    He took a crown of thorns

    Chorus: Oh that rugged cross
    My salvation
    Where Your love poured out over me
    Now my soul cries out
    Praise and honour unto Thee

    Sent of heaven God’s own Son
    To purchase and redeem
    And reconcile the very ones
    Who nailed Him to that tree


    Bridge: Now my debt is paid
    It is paid in full
    By the precious blood
    That my Jesus spilled

    Now the curse of sin
    Has no hold on me
    Whom the Son sets free
    Oh is free indeed


    See the stone is rolled away
    Behold the empty tomb
    Hallelujah God be praised
    He’s risen from the grave


    I have to ask why the speaker chose the very worst to read!

    • Yes, this one is a reason why don’t dismiss all contemporary Christian music.

      I’ll also admit that while I think the Psalms (and perhaps a few other biblical sections such as the Song of Zacharias and Magnificat) deserve pride of place, I’m not a Psalms-only guy. However, my tastes in “Hymns of human composition” tend towards the pre-1730 and German.

  2. It isn’t only the juvenile, primitive lyrics, the shoddy use of language. It isn’t only the unlovely, derivative, unmelodic, unimaginative melodies. In fact, it isn’t primarily these deficiencies that appall and repulse. Moreover, it isn’t the irrationality and manipulative emotive purpose of the music and lyrics combined. What infuriates me in worship and grieves me upon reflection is the self-centered, self-absorbed, self-elevating focus of what is deemed praise. To my mind, the most egregious failure of this degradation of worship is the presumption before the holy God, the carelessness before purity and majesty, and the foolish, willful blindness to the full reality of sin, even ongoing sin of the redeemed. The Puritans understood the condition of man and the ineffable holiness of God.

  3. Every once in a while some really good comments appear on some of these blogs and I like to keep a copy of them for future reference. Some that Zrim has made in the past come to mind. Well, this one by Lola is one of the keepers. Well said and I couldn’t agree more.

  4. We have a whole book with 150 God-breathed songs, we don’t need these Jesus is my boyfriend songs

    • You’re presenting a false dichotomy. Exclusive psalmody or the worst of contemporary worship. Illogical. Why not have the Psalms plus the best music written by Christians over the centuries?

      Incidentally, I don’t believe exclusive psalmody is the Biblical position. Matthew 26:30 and Ephesians 5:19 suggest that other material was used. And if we sing psalms only, then we cannot sing the name of Jesus!

    • Isn’t the true dichotomy the inspired Word of God or the compositions of men? Isn’t it a question of how we should please God in our worship? What pleases God? When we honor Him by singing His Word or our own compositions, because we like them better? Is that not will worship when we think God is pleased by human innovation, rather than by obedience to His revealed will. It is a question of obedience to God, not our idea of what is in good taste, and so God should be pleased with it. Doesn’t that at least border on idolatry? Col. 2:23

  5. Yeah, this is pretty bad stuff, and worthy of the criticism it receives. But the solution isn’t exclusive psalmody. I believe EP is contrary to sola scriptura, is reactionary rather than reasonable, and in the end is a mere human tradition, based upon false inferences from the presence of the Book of Psalms within the canon of Scripture and upon shoddy, anti-contextual exegesis of passages like Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should be singing the Psalms in worship. But requiring EP, to the exclusion of a new covenant hymnody, amounts to adding to the Word of God (the very thing its proponents often accuse the non-EP of). (Yes, I’ve read Michael Bushnel’s book “Songs of Zion” and am familiar with EP arguments. Sorry, EP brethren, I’m just not convinced; in fact, Bushnel’s book was, in my opinion, so poorly argued that it helped to settle me against the EP position.)

    • Geoff,

      1. I’m not arguing for EP. I think you know that. I have argued from sola Scriptura and the rule of worship (regulative principle) and the sufficiency of Scripture for the singing of Scripture only in public worship.

      2. That said, it is a view that deserves more respect than your comment here accords it. For one thing, it was the practice of a good many Reformed and Presbyterian churches for a long time.

      3. As to shoddy exegesis, some particulars would help. The defenses of non-canonical hymnody, in my view, have not been terribly persuasive for the same reason. It would help me to know for what you’re arguing. E.g., what do you mean by “New Covenant hymnody?” Do you have evidence from the NT that the church sang uninspired songs or are you referring to singing texts from the NT?

      4. My view, which includes the singing of all of Scripture, is the minority position and thus I think it is properly deferential to the historic majority, namely EP.

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