Milk or Meat?

It’s time to write a new worship song, so you sit down to write what’s in your heart.  What IS in your heart?

Scripture tells us that, out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks (Luke 6:45 &  Matthew 12:34).  When you write a congregational song, you are feeding words to the congregation that they will sing … sing to GOD, no less.  You’re putting words in their mouths.  Ouch!  Do your lyrics truly express their heart?

As we pursue our talent, trying to make a living as a songwriter, we often cut corners.  We rush.  We just write what’s on our heart that particular day.   But is what we already know in our hearts not limited?  Are we growing in our understanding of God and His Word daily?  Do the songs we write today express deeper truths than the songs we wrote last year?  Or are we simply covering the same ground, using different, or more creative, words?

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you … you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.   Hebrews 5:12-14

Are we simply serving up gourmet baby food?  Are we just combining the same ingredients in different quantities, or adding new flavorful words, to basically serve the same soft dish, with a new twist?
Songwriters, I want to challenge you.  Before you pick up your guitar to write that next praise or worship song, do yourself a favor that could help not only you, but the thousands who may sing your song.  Go eat one, two or even three meals of solid food.  Now before anyone gets offended, we ALL could chew on the Word a little more, right?  We could ALL benefit from hiding more of God’s treasure in our hearts.  And the richer the things in your heart, the richer the lyrics of your song!

I’ve heard enough songs that say, “You are my everything.”  First of all, that’s not true anyway.  (God is not my kitchen table, nor my pet, nor my television, nor my bad habits.  Don’t put those words in my mouth to sing!)  But I’ve also heard enough songs that say, “You are glorious and worthy to be praised.”  Yes He is, and I will sing that!  However, we need more songs that express, WHY He is glorious and worthy to be praised.”   You could immediately lean on what you already know to explain why in your song (i.e.  Lamb of God takes away our sins and therefore is worthy of praise, etc.)  But every song does not need to explain again the gospel story.  Some need to cover other scriptural ground.

What about this?   Before you write that next worship song, why not do a personal, in-depth study on the attributes of God?  I’m talking about digging into the scriptures for a couple of weeks to learn everything you can.  What does scripture say about God that you might not already know?  What are some of the amazing descriptions, characteristics , or names of God that you don’t normally gravitate toward?   Learn them, know them, be able to teach them, hide them in your heart … and THEN write about them.  Pick one of those attributes and write a song that worships God for that single attribute.

Or what about the apostolic prayers of Paul or Peter?  Or Jesus’ prayers?   Those prayers are very, very rich.  Could we put one of those or gems from one of those into our song?  I’m simply suggesting that we fill our hearts with God’s Word, so much so that we’re really able to live and teach those eternal truths (Hebrews  5:12-14).  Then we dig deep into our hearts when we write.

In closing, here’s what the Psalmist said about God’s Word (law, testimonies, statutes).  Oh, that we might ALL pursue a deeper knowledge of His Truths and hide them in our hearts, whether or not we’re writing songs!

With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.  Blessed are You, O Lord!  Teach me Your statutesWith my lips I have declared all the judgments of  Your mouth.  I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.  I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.  My soul breaks with longing for Your judgements at all times.  You rebuke the proud- the cursed, who stray from Your commandments.  Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept Your testimonies.  Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant meditates on your statutes.  Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.  Psalm 119:10-24


5 comments on “Milk or Meat?

  1. Mark – I can only speak for myself, although I can’t imagine any Christian publisher in Nashville disagreeing on this point. For some, it may not be a primary focus of attention, as it has been for me. But whether we understand exactly why or not, I believe we all gravitate toward the songs that contain the deep truths of the Word, when we hear them. They are simply more powerful and grip our hearts like nothing else can, because that’s what the Word of God does. Unfortunately, those songs come across our desks less often than the other songs.

    • I’m glad to hear your focus on it. I think sometimes there is a conception that a ‘heavy’ song with solid biblical content can not also be a catchy song, or a good song, or a song that young people will take up and sing. In making our ‘Your Word’ EP, I found the opposite to be true – the 18 year olds singing our songs were excited to sing a song with real biblical meat. I have also found a receptive audience among these same young people, even though we did not take a ‘me centered’ approach to the lyrics and tried to pack a lot of meat, as you say, into the songs. But our production was appealing to all ages. A good song and a good melody is exactly that, and will appeal across ages.

  2. Thank you for the excellent points in your post. Today I came across your blog and look forward to reading more from you. However, there was an advertisement at the bottom of the your post that had a music video with inappropriate content. Swear words bleeped out and suggestive imagery. You should complain to Worpress.

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