Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Faith We (Shouldn't) Sing, Part 2: Here I Am to Worship

This popular song out of the "Praise and Worship" tradition (and I have issues with that title for the movement, which I may address another time) is simply bad quality on every level, IMNSHO.

Here is a link to the text.

First of all, the music is monotonous and unimaginative. The proverbial I - IV - V (oops, in this case, I - V - IV) harmonic pattern is about as basic as it gets, and I don't mean that in a good way. The melody simply parallels the harmony in an equally boring way. The rhythm is even less inspired.

The text is awful. It falls into the individual-idolatrous trap of so many P&W songs, but does so deliberately. "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you're my God..." Who is being worshiped? Who is being bowed down to? It's all about "me" and "here I am." Where is this? The sanctuary of the Lord? And just who are you? WE are here, yes, and WE should be BE bowing down and worshiping! (Not merely saying we're here to do it.)

Then, what's up with "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross." "Duh-factor," I'd say. No, we cannot in this life know the cost the Savior paid for our sins. But "seeing my sin upon that cross" is not what it's all about. The SAVIOR, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, is WHO was on that cross and is now alive. THAT is WHOM and WHY WE (not just all-important "I") worship.

Honestly, I find very little to commend this particular song. I'm trying. The verses are so-so OK, though verse 1 is still about what God did for "me." Verse 2 is much better, which makes going back to the "me-me-me" chorus that much more grating for me. Another good thing: despite there being only ONE "you" (addressing the Lord) in the chorus and despite all the "I's," it IS in second person. I guess it's all the presumptuous mentions of "I" and "my" in addressing that second person that rub me the wrong way on this one.

If you want a harmonically simple song on a similar theme that does it right, with at least an interesting rhythm and melody and a much better balance (uses "we" rather than "I" and focuses much more on God than "we"), try "We Bow Down" by Twila Paris. Not as new, but much more solid song. Yeah, it's a little too "sing-songy" for my complete liking, but solid text goes a long way with me.


Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for this. I've never liked this one, either. Now I know why!

Psalmist said...

Thanks, QG! I'm prepared for folks to come and take me to task for ripping on their favorite P&W song, so it's good to know I'm not alone in not liking this particular one.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one. Why sing "Here I am to Worship" when you are able to WORSHIP! The 2nd verse is slightly better theology... but the chorus is not. very. good. period. And the piece is WAY over-sung. By the time Integrity gets their hands on it, it is usually not very current anyway (oops did I really say that?)

Actually my favorite praise song at the moment is Chris Tomlin's "How Great is Our God"...

(excusing self to go to piano!)

Anonymous said...

I'm delurking... but I'm also in agreement with you on the "I love to sing about how much I love Jesus" P & W songs. I've seen contemporary worship done really really well, and I've seen it be a three ring circus of sloppy theology...

great blog!

Mrs. M said...

P & W can be extremely painful. I'm still trying to figure out why "contemporary" so often (though there are notable exceptions) means "We Left Our Brains At Home."

Anonymous said...

ROFL!!! THANK YOU for that comment Mrs. M. I know that many will not like that word of wisdom. However, since I serve in a very contemporary church, it is a great reminder... and not as true today as it was, oh 10 years ago.

P.S. Least favorite P&W song "Let's just praise the Lord" - well, yes, let's! Stop talking about it and DO it.

the reverend mommy said...

OK, what I would really like to see is a listing of songs that have really good theology -- solid. There are ones that I hate and ones that I REALLY hate, but I would love a lectionary keyed list of good songs. And a few that might be in a minor key and be a lament -- on occasion.

I get to the point I really hate "happy happy joy joy me me me" worship