Quit strumming that guitar and cut the cheesy lyrics

It was fairly early into our marriage that my nearest and dearest gave me an honest assessment of my long-term prospects as a worship leader. I’d fallen into it somehow, either because I was the only guy in the university Christian Union who wore a leather jacket or because everyone else was even worse at the guitar than I (except Keith J, who was *good*). But by the time I’d reached my mid-twenties, I’d been playing the guitar and leading worship for a number of years. The problem was that I’d been listening to jazz-funk instead of Christian albums since I was in my teens and it had infected my strumming style with dangerous backbeats, so it was kind of hard to understand my playing. (That’s my version of the story, anyway.) Like most Christians of my age, I never questioned the lyrics, despite the fact that anyone with a passing acquaintance with Freudian psychology cannot sing “Jesus, take me as I am…” without feeling terribly guilty about the sexual associations it evokes.

How refreshing, then, to read Andy Walker Cleaveland’s blog post on Christian cheesy lyrics, with some concrete examples. This is getting familiar territory: Nick Page has tackled the subject in his book And now let’s move into a time of nonsense but his book suffers because he was (understandably) unable to get permission of any of the song authors to actually cite the examples of silly or meaningless lyrics which his book is about. At last, someone’s pointed out that though Mat Redman’s tunes are good (as examples of the kind of genre in which he composes), his lyrics seldom convey much by way of theological substance – in contrast (I would contend) to the much-maligned Graham Kendrick.

But things aren’t as bad as they could have been. My wife’s early ministry of discouragement (“it’s either the guitar, or me”) has probably saved the Christian world from something much worse.

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