Thoughts on Worship from Walk The Line

From some dude in the movie Walk the Line:

If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying…
and you had time to sing one song, huh, one song…
people would remember before you’re dirt…
one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth…
one song that would sum you up…
you telling me that’s the song you’d sing?
That same Jimmie Davis tune we hear on the radio all day?
About your peace within and how it’s real and how you’re gonna shout it?
Or would you sing something different?
Something real, something you felt?
Because I’m telling you right now…
that’s the kind of song people want to hear.
That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of country music. However, I went to this little music showcase thing with Mindy and my in-laws with some country singer/song writers, and I have to admit I enjoyed it. There was a lot of story involved in the songs they sang, and though some of the themes got old quick, others I enjoyed and was touched by. Now back to the quote above.

I’ll be honest, when I was in high school, I was quite involved in the youth group at the church I attended, and I enjoyed the worship music songs and sessions. But, for the past six years, I have had the hardest time feeling connected or in tune with the songs that are being song at any church I’ve attend. There are a number of reasons for this, but I wanted to touch on just one: They are not real.


I don’t know a lot of Johnny Cash songs, but from what I’ve heard, and what the quote above infers, is that he sangs songs that were real. Not all the ‘worship’ songs these days are touchy feely, but a lot of them are. Not all of them are happy all the time, but a lot of them are. And sadly, most of the songs we sing lack any story, any connection for us and the place we as individuals or as a group are.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to a church on Sunday and the songs they sang had to do with the events unfolding around them? In Nashville there is a big effort by the homeless community right now to be recognized and for the need for adequate affordable housing to be available in the Nashville area. Wouldn’t it be amazing to sing ‘worship’ songs about God being a God of the Oppressed with lyrics that connected it to that story of the homeless in Nashville? With some much talent available musically in most churches, can’t we sing more of what’s on our hearts, sing about what we don’t understand, about our hurts, our pains, our lives? Let’s give glory to God, but let’s do it in a way that is real and connected to our lives, not totally unrelated.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on Worship from Walk The Line”

  1. You’ve made a very good point! I agree.

    Many worship songs these days just don’t seem “real” and connectable. Sure, God can use any type of music to reach the people He’s seeking… but it just seems like we should be trying harder to make the lyrics in our local churches more meaningful and up-to-date with our own struggles within the community.

    I personally like what Derek Webb has to offer as far as lyrics go. Granted, at times the music is a little “boring” for my particular tastes, but I haven’t found lyrics of that high caliber in quite some time. He speaks from the heart, and speaks in love.

    I also love the Psalters. They have really gone back to the roots of Christianity, pulled some jewels out of scripture and put them alongside some crazy, passionate music that just sets your spirit on fire. We definately need more of that in the mainstream Christian music industry. 🙂

    Ohav Shalom,
    Jamie

  2. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this church, but Red Mountain in Birmingham has been taking old hymn texts, most recently from Gadsby’s hymnal, and reworking the music. It’s really beautiful. When you said something about the homeless, I immediately thought of a song they did called “Thou Poor, Afflicted, Tempted Soul.” They lyrics are

    Thou poor, afflicted, tempted soul,
    With fears, and doubts, and tempests tossed.
    What if the billows rise and roll,
    And dash thy ship, it is not lost;
    The winds and waves and fiends may roar,
    But Christ will bring thee safe on shore.
    The winds and waves and fiends may roar,
    But Christ will bring thee safe on shore.

    What ails those eyes bedewed with tears?
    Those laboring sighs that heave thy breast?
    Those oft repeated, broken prayers?
    Dost thou not long for Jesus’ rest?
    And can the Lord pass heedless by,
    And see a mourning sinner die?
    And can the Lord pass heedless by,
    And see a sad and mourning sinner die?

    These hymns are so rich, and they are basically the only worship music I can listen to and not feel like a hypocrite for singing. Check them out at http://www.myspace.com/redmountainmusic where they have four songs up, or http://www.redmountainchurch.org/rmm/ where they have clips of all their songs plus a lot of info.

  3. Let’s talk about this topic at dinner sometime. I think that this applies to art in general, and I think it’s time we had that conversation. Great topic.

  4. Reality? Being real, relating to life? What is that all about? Seems rather subjective. I am totally inspired and motivated by hearing and singing. I feel that when I wake up with a song in my heart that it is Jesus presence welcoming me into the day! Usually it is a song I heard at church or on the Christian radio. Now I must admit that I occasionally feel like there is need for “a new song” and when I do, I write one. I don’t criticize those who haven’t written the song or sung the song I feel I want to sing. When the Lord puts a need on your heart I believe that there is a high likelihood that he will give you opportunity if not skill and talent to be part of the solution…I think of it as “gifting”. I so appreciate you Ariah when you share testimony of how Jesus leads you to be part of the solution to a need you have seen.

  5. Andy,

    Thanks for the encouragement and the wisdom. I do pray that God would give me the gift to put my heart into song or at least spoken word at some point. So far I need to just learn rhyming words. But I do long for “worship leader” to take on new meaning in churches.

    Bryan,
    let’s chat man.

    Jamie,
    Derek Webb rocks my socks off! So practical and challenging in his lyrics. And I happen to love the music too.

  6. I hear your heart crying out to express yourself – I sense you want to sing your prayers. That’s real and precious. I appreciate your concerns for your community. King David sang many of his prayers and we all have the opportunity to identify with them. Yet that isn’t worship.

    Singing your heart’s cry is important expression but it isn’t true worship. It is the cry of our needy souls. It is much more prayer than worship. Perhaps you (and many others, I believe) would appreciate a song service that expresses your concerns. But what about true worship?

    True worship exalts the King of Kings. True worship focuses our hearts on who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It expresses our gratitude to Him and our adoration for Him. True worship isn’t about us, our needs, our problems, our wants. It’s all about the Lord. And when we truly worship the Lord our hearts are encouraged because we are reminded of His faithful love for us, His goodness toward us and His Almighty power that enables us to overcome. We are reminded that Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom as we exhalt Him. The book of Revelation offers examples of true, heavenly worship. And there is much praise and adoration in many of the Psalms.

    I long to see much more true worship when I gather with Believers. Far too often I feel we focus on ourselves rather than on the one who gave Himself so completely for us. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

    Karen

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