Simple Songs

Over the past 8-10 years, I have been a huge proponent of deep, meaty, theologically rich songs (i.e. In Christ Alone, Before the Throne of God Above, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, and so on).  I have deep convictions about this and feel that all thoughtful worship leaders should as well.   As I have grown as a worship leader, I have realized time and again the need for these types of songs to be sung in the church.  These songs are instrumental in helping us lead our congregations to know God better by articulating His character and communicating bible doctrine in an understandable way.  During my time in seminary, I thought that every song I led needed to be a theological masterpiece.  One of the things I am learning now is that although it is still vitally important to teach these songs, there is a place for simple songs.  I believe a good illustration is that of a personal diet.  I am a terrible eater.  I love food, a lot of it, and often the wrong food.  I perpetually deal with heartburn.  If I constantly feed my body steak, fatty foods, and rich deserts without using moderation and eating other healthier foods I will not get the nutrition I need.  I believe we sometimes treat our congregations the same way.  I look at songs like I described in the opening sentence as the meat.  If we only feed our congregation meat they may know a lot about God, but they may get bloated and not have an adequate outlet to voice their adoration of God in song.  If we feed them only vague choruses they may have a lot of feelings but those feelings may not be grounded in truth.  This past Sunday, I led the song “Breathe” by Marie Barrett for the first time in well over five years.  I’m sure all of you are familiar with this song since it has been so popular for close to 15 years.  At face value, the song really doesn’t say a whole lot.  I have been guilty of underestimating the value of this and other songs.  I’ve wrote them off as musical fluff.  I’ve thought to myself, “this songs could be easily used to describe two lovers.”  (The old hymn “In the Garden” is very similar in the hymn genre.)  Yet, when strategically placed around another song or hymn that is heavy in truth, it can be a wonderful response of desperation for God.  Our job as worship leaders is to adequately feed our congregation what they need for a healthy worship diet.  We don’t want them to be bloated with head-knowledge and have empty hearts.  We don’t want them to starve on fluff either.  I would never recommend a steady diet of “Breathe” type songs as a main course, but when carefully placed, they can assist in helping our people connect with God.


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