Is that music Christian? Secular? Authentic? Does it matter? Hmmm
I recently (May 2010) discovered the music of Mumford and Sons, a folk/bluegrass group from London. What first attracted me was the great music and outstanding use of the banjo–they are fun. But as I have begun listening to the lyrics, I keep adding more of their music to my collection. Some of you will likely be offended by at least one of their songs. As Relevant magazine said about their music, Mumford and Sons sing about “doubt,” their songs “question or confuse” and their songs “speak about God in a way we don’t always hear,” Their music expresses “authentic feelings of spirituality.”
“The feeling of not being clean enough and asking for the truth is a notion that is often too close to home for some Christians—both new and old. But it exists, and is often ignored—particularly between the parallel lines of contemporary worship music. And if we ignore that which aches inside of us, where will we be with our God?
With all the doubt, the longing, the uncleanness—all the things we believe Christ can conquer—what do we do when we’re still frustrated?”
Ok, they do use profanity in Little Lion Man as they describe someone regretting that they “messed” up. As shocking as that was the first time I heard it, that is not the reason I like their music. I am aware that some are offended (my wife) and I need to be sensitive that they may not want to hear such words (put on headphones!). But these guys appear to be reaching an audience out there that other christian music does not touch. Does that justify their language? I guess you need to decide for yourself. Liz Rigs writes (again from Relevant Magazine)
I’m not saying we bring profanity into the church, or that we all express our frustrations with faith using swear words. Rather, we can take a look at how a moment such as this can be so deeply rooted in a relationship with Christ. And isn’t that how our relationship with God works sometimes? One second we feel the need to curse, to shout out in frustration and confusion and plea for insight or answers, and the next second we praise, or maybe we glimpse a moment of understanding and truth. And yet, most of the songs we sing—out of the hymn book or the WOW worship mix—don’t address a lot of the feelings we inevitably come across in our relationship with God.
Here are the words from one of my favorites, Roll Away Your Stone. I found the lyrics on a lyrics site–don’t remember which one and they had reversed the meaning in two lines (in blue) by adding “not.” A Christian understands the struggle about which they sing. No easy solutions, it does not always work but I keep on trusting! A number of their songs are out there on youtube if you want to try them out.
Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside
You told me that I would find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
Yet it dominates the things I see
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see (x2)
Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul (x2)
I started my Christian life singing hymns, not that I am THAT OLD and so I am partial to hymns when they have been juiced up a bit. This afternoon, I have been listening to songs by Page CVXI that I had downloaded a while back–Come Thou Fount, My Jesus I love Thee, Solid Rock, Nothing But the Blood and Joy. I have always liked “Joy” that starts out with I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Down in my heart and finishes with a crescendo of joy triumphant from the 2:15 to 2:50 mark of the song.
But this afternoon, I have listened three times to Nothing But the Blood–wow, it is capturing my heart.
Although they call it “natural quiet,” I prefer the term natural music to describe recordings made in nature here, apart from any man-made sounds. Starting with butterfly wings and ending with the waves of the Atlantic, you will hear two minutes of each sound. For some, this might be tedious–I mean two minutes listening to butterfly wings! There is a link to a still picture where the recording was made and I wish they had a video along with the nature music but maybe that would have been a harsh intrusion into this beautiful and delicate symphony.
My favorite video short from 24-7prayer.com Explores Tribe, a prayer group that uses percussion instruments to pray and pray and play they do!!! Is it possible for prayer to be a drumbeat or prayer to be art? Here are some favorite lines. Enjoy!
“Whatever language you speak, whatever comes from your heart, that becomes a prayer.”
“Wouldn’t it make sense that the God who made rhythm would understand what’s in our hearts and how that came out in this language called rhythm.”
“Prayer is about being with God and whatever kind of communication as long as it is authentic, as its honest, its sincere, its vulnerable, then that’s prayer.”
How you connect is really not the issue, the issue is really connecting with God is.
If you haven’t heard “I will trust you” by Steven Curtis Chapman, you will likely be singing it in church before too long. I put it in the same class as “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman. Could not find the lyrics on the web and so I transcribed them this morning. In doing so, I find this song is even richer than I previous thought. If you don’t know the story out of which this song arose, here is one story. I have added a few pictures that seem to fit with the song.
I don’t even want to breathe right now. All I want to do is close my eyes. And I don’t want to open them again. Until I’m standing on the other side. I don’t even want to be right now. I don’t want to think another thought. And I don’t want to feel this pain I feel. Right now, pain is all I got. Feels like its all I got. But I know its not. Oh, I know You are all I got
And I will trust you, trust you, trust you trust you God I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again. You are my God. And I will trust you
God I’m longing for the day to come. When this cloudy glass I’m looking through. Shattered in a million pieces. And finally I can just see you. God you know I believe its true. I will see you. But until the day I do.
I will trust you, trust you, trust you God I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again. You are my God. And I trust you and with every breath I take. And For every day that breaks. I will trust you, I will trust you. And now that nothing makes sense. Even then I will say again. God I trust you, I trust you
I know your heart is good. I know your love is strong. I know your plans for me are much better than my own.
So, I will trust you, trust you, I trust you God again. And I will trust you, I will trust you I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again
I will trust you, I will trust you I will. I know your heart is good, your love is strong, your plans for me are better than my own. I know your heart is good, I know your love is strong, I know your plans for me are much better than my own.
And I will trust you. You are my God. And I will trust you
I suppose there are a few people out there that don’t feel threatened by chaos. I suspect that my post-modern friends embrace chaos since out of chaos, a new order will be formed, one that is better than the previous order. I am sure I will be corrected since that is a bit of an over-simplification. Is that a trust in an evolutionary process? Off topic a bit now….
Psalm 46 offers us a different source for confidence in the threat of chaos. We don’t have to fear the threat of chaos when God is our refuge, our protector, our strength. Lots of threats out there this day–not sure what are yours but a few that come to mind for me.
- external pressures–economic crisis, social unrest, political instability
- internal struggles–self-doubt, flesh-spirit battle, etc
- satanic assaults
- worldly temptations–to covet, towards power and control, to lust
- direct verbal assaults or implied criticism
Read this Psalm and discover that God cares, He is willing to help and He has the power to do something about it!! The LORD of Hosts, the God of Jacob will be exalted among the nations. As Dr. Craige says,
Because God controls both history and nature, the chaotic threat which both may offer to human existence may be faced fearlessly. The very worst manifestation of chaos is merely a threat, for the Creator has mastered chaos. 346
So, what do we do, “Relax and know that I am God” is Craige’s translation of verse 10 and my new Living says, “Be silent and know that I am God. ” May we all find God to be our refuge and strength in the chaos of today as we wait in silence before Him, reflecting on who He is, what He has done and what He will do!
Totally unrelated except to the picture of the volcano above–downloaded last week, volcanoland by Caedman’s call–a fun song. You can find the lyrics online if interested and get a 30 sec clip to see if it is your type of music.