Anyone who knows me well knows that I vehemently dislike cliches. I have often said “I don’t want the language unless I understand its sayings”. Mike Bickle calls it “being a voice versus being an echo”. So when I hear phrases like “the new song” or “the new sound”, they drive me crazy because we have such a limited understanding of what that actually means. Especially in light of Ecclesiastes which tell us that there is “Nothing new under the sun” (Ecc 1:9). What as been will be again. What goes around comes around . We understand this. Its why deep v-neck shirts and bellbottom pants, oversized sunglasses, natural hair and the list goes on.
However, can the same be said of music? I recently read a now deleted blog post by Michael Gungor called “The problem with Christian music”. Though he has deleted it, it still circulates if you are bold enough to find it. Anyway, in it he makes some valid points. Do I agree with the entire article? No. Would I have said some of the same things? Yes. But I appreciated his candor and honesty. He recently wrote again in reference to the first blog that he was writing from a “Narrow and emotional place” and apologized to his readers for that. That took guts and humility. Thanks Michael. The point I want to raise is that he addressed the fact that a large majority of mainstream CCM (contemporary christian music) is a knock-off of secular artist. Everyone is so busy trying to sound like U2 and others that by the time we are an “echo” of their sound, we are irrelevant but we still throw around language that its the “new sound”.
I’ve been a musician since I was 3 years old. I’m almost 37. I’m not a prodigy and I don’t know much theory. But I know music. I know what sounds good. I know what feels good. I know what moves hearts. I know whats a copy and whats an original. And having been a focused full time worship leader now for almost 6 years in the context of day and night prayer and worship, i think I have actually discovered THE new sound. And I’ve made a few observations about this new sound/song:
1. The “new song” aint new. First we have to know what the new song IS. In some Christian circles it’s also referred to as the “song of the Lord”. Well don’t even get me started on that word from the Christianese handbook. There really IS a song of the Lord biblically that shakes nations, systems and cultures. Take the song that was sang in Josh 6 when the walls of Jericho were crumbled. Or 2 Chronicles 20:7 where the battle was won because of worship. There are many other examples. But the real new song has less to do with the sound and more to do with the content. Its singing songs that declare the character/nature of God in the person of Jesus. THIS is prophetic singing.
2. Spontaneous and prophetic are NOT synonymous. Spontaneous is spontaneous. There is only one definition of the prophetic biblically (Rev 19:10) -The testimony of Jesus (alone) is the spirit of prophecy. Period. What is Jesus’ testimony? Its NOT that he was once immoral, then went to a youth camp at 12 and now he loves himself. No. Its not our typical before and after stories we tell. Why do testimonies even exists? To give account as witnesses. So if Jesus were in a court room giving account of something he has witnessed -of what or to WHOM would he be giving witness? The Father. His SOLE purpose in coming to earth was to display the person of the Father to us (John 13-15). So his “testimony” is any he says, does or reveals about The Father. How does that translate to the new song? Easy. Singing the word. Sounds simple. It is. But few in the earth are doing it. We (and I am as guilty as anyone reading this) mostly sing biblical CONCEPTS. Not biblical truths. We mostly take passages and make poetry out of them rather simply singing an unwatered down version of scripture for the sake of record sales. I have found however that the best way to shift a culture (even the culture of my own heart) happens when I simply open my bible and SING.
3. The new song is like aged wine. Its flavor is rich and it is costly. I often listen to modern christian songs in multiple genre’s from CCM to Gospel to rap and others. and what amazes me is that few of the songs that we sing even in church on Sundays have “staying power”. They are popular for a moment. The top the CCLI charts. They sell lots of albums but they don’t sustain our hearts in love for Jesus. Only the “new song” can do that. I often travel and teach on worship and when I do, I’m mostly speaking to a much younger generation of worship leaders and singers. It always amazes me when I ask the question ” How many of you in this room know the song ‘Oh Lord You’re Beautiful’?” In a room of 1000 people 25 and younger, probably 80% of them raise their hands every time. Keith Green sang it SO beautifully and in a most heart-felt way. But the reason that song has staying power LONG after Keith’s tragic and untimely death has little to do with the timbre of his voice and soothing chord progression. It has to do with the spirit of prophecy. David penned those words in Psalm 45 about Jesus who revealed that to us about his Father. How did David have revelation about Jesus? I dont know. But he did. And his songs weren’t mostly cliche phrases. They about the character and nature of God and how that played out in his daily life and decisions.
We have a lot to learn. I haven’t addressed at all the discussion on merging the song with the sound. But I know that its doable. Yesterday I released a new single called “STANDING”. Its a completely different sound than what most are used to from me. Its purpose is specific -to reach a particular genre of music with “the SONG”. I need more of the spirit of prophecy on my life. I want the grace to sing ABOUT Jesus TO Jesus and let that come out in a whatever sound reaches my generation and awakens them to love him more. At the end of the day, THATS the goal anyway. Long after my name is forgotten, I want there to be a song in the earth that I sang that points people to him alone. So, what song are YOU singing?
*STANDING is available here:https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/standing-feat.-the-cry-single/id780863682