Something that has come up a lot lately in my classes is the issue of using “Christianese.” If you don’t know, “Christianese” is basically a way of describing all the cliche words and expressions that Christians use in writing, song lyrics and even just in speaking sometimes. For example, a lot of contemporary worship music all sounds the same. It all has imagery of mountains and valleys and God calming the seas. I think people are just afraid to get away from Biblical language in worship. The problem this creates is that no one who hasn’t grown up using that kind of language and listening to that kind of music is going to have a very difficult time relating. Furthermore, people generally don’t tolerate cliches in “secular” music and I don’t think we should tolerate it in worship. To me it feels like taking the easy way out. It makes it feel too routine and practiced and less genuine.
Something else that came up in my “Music in Worship” class is the idea of using secular music to worship. I am of the opinion that we can use secular music and even instrumental music if it helps us feel a spiritual connection. I am also a fan of metaphor and allegory in worship music. I like artists that are what I call “sneaky-sneaky.” I think the best kinds of worship songs are one’s that could be passed by as secular if you weren’t paying attention.
Some great examples are:
I’ll admit the Tenth Ave song is a little less subtle, but it’s different than a lot of Christian songs, which is why I like it.
I like the Andy Timons tune because it technically has nothing to do with grace or love or sacrifice, but it sounds happy and it makes me think of freedom and forgiveness in a way. It makes one feel like there’s been something difficult to overcome and it has been overcome. It isn’t cliche, which I think makes worshiping to something like this more genuine.
Also, just for the record, I know nothing about Andy Timons. I just heard this on Pandora and liked it, so I bought it on iTunes. It may have been his intention to do a sneaky-sneaky worship tune for all I know.
Something else that came up in my class is whether using or misusing Christianese is a moral issue. I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but I feel that it is generally better to be original in worship. The only foreseeable problem is that there should also be unity which means singing and playing songs that everyone knows. I think the best thing to do is to keep creating new music and teaching it to people so that everyone will constantly be able to express their faith in new ways and change as the world changes and as God changes. People don’t stay the same and God certainly doesn’t stay the same, so neither should the music that connects us.