Songs and Worship Part 1

Music seems to be present at every major moment in our lives.  At weddings, funerals, birthdays, holidays and almost every other celebratory, sobering or landmark event…music is there.  Most cultures have given song a key place in these events for thousands of years. I think this is because music gives us language for engaging and experiencing our worlds. Music can help us to better enjoy the things we enjoy and can help to make difficult issues slightly less difficult.

A songwriter is like a granter of permissions. Permission to remember, permission to forget, permission to love, permission to hate, permission to dance, permission to shop, permission to dream, permission to cry, permission to shout, permission to say what you’ve been waiting all week to say.  You could have said it at work, but some how it seems more appropriate on a sweaty Friday night with 200 of your fellow corporate refugees. 

This is why “song” is so important to me.  I think people need permission to be honest with God and themselves.  I think people need to be free to question things.  God isn’t afraid of questions.  Questions only offend the insecurities of people.  When I was a teenager I told my dad, a charismatic pastor, that I wasn’t sure if I really believed in God.  I thought he was going to be severely disappointed, but he said it was actually very healthy to be honest with God.  Seriously, it’s not like God didn’t already know.  In fact, it’s the ability for me to honestly question what I believe that gives me the ability to honestly believe.  So many people don’t really know what to believe because they’ve been under such religious pressure that they’ve never have had an opportunity. Love is only love if you choose it.  It can’t be handed down like homework.

What I want to accomplish as a songwriter is to give people permission to have conversations.  I want to help people have conversations with themselves and conversations with God. After all, worship, prayer, praise, and all these religious words mean little more than to have conversations with God.  I just don’t think God has some kind of complex where he needs us to sit around and tell him how good he is all day. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t have confidence issues.

Final words: 

Music isn’t holy. People are holy. So if “Brown Eyed Girl” helps a human being have a conversation with God, then “Brown Eyed Girl” is a worship song. 

  1. . said:

    That’s something God has been teaching me, He delights in my honesty. So when I’m upset with Him, I’ve learned that that is ok. Anyways, thanks for writing this.

  2. i’m really glad you wrote this.i’ve caught myself singing along to “secular” songs in my car and lifting my hands to worship God. what you wrote gives me new perspective.

  3. . said:

    Hm… God delights In honesty. It’s hard for me to completely grasp, but it’s okay to be mad at God. He wants us to be real with him, right? Be angry and do not sin. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Diana said:

    This made me so ridiculously happy.Agreed, agreed, agreed!

  5. John, thanks for writing this. I kind of needed to hear it myself. -jonathan (

  6. Brady said:

    now that’s what i’m talking about… bring it

  7. I had never thought about songwriters being granters of permission. Thanks for sharing this! I’ve learned a lot from your posts. I look forward to part 2

  8. permission is scary to grant sometimes, isn’t it? I could be permitting people to do something I don’t fully know the consequences of. I like what you wrote about love not be handed down like homework. Angie and I have a new definition for it: choosing to be at a disadvantage (which results in unexpected results).

  9. Sure, freedom is always a little dangerous. Love is a risk because there’s always a chance to get hurt. But in the end, it’s worth it.

  10. I really could not agree more. For A long time I would hear a song or melody and just feel God in it. Like the Song “Landslide” for some reason when ever I hear it I just praise God, I don’t understand it, but I think that God is pleased…? I have found this program this Semester which is all about music and the brain, in culture, war, love, personality, religion….it even has changed some of the ways I view worship and it’s affect on us - is pretty greatGreat Album !-John Brennan

  11. I dig where you’re headed with this, but! I think that we (as Christians) need to be aware of what we’re singing and how we’re praising/conversing with the Father. God gave specific instructions for his holy people in the OT on how to approach and worship Him. We’ve got to be aware that we need to approach God on His terms or it may become about us. Thoughts?

  12. I have to disagree with you Holiday. The “NT” says that we have ben afforded the right to come “boldly before the thrown”. That means without reservation or fear of condemnation. God is not easily offended by anything we tell him. God isn’t fragile and he isn’t a prude. He knows what’s going on with us better than we do.The Bible paints several pictures of God and two of the most common are of a husband and a father. To think that my wife or son would have to follow a certain protocol in order to engage with me in conversation or affection would make me sick to my stomach. As for the specific instructions of the Old Testament, they were all to point to the reality of the man Jesus (who actually came to free us from the bondage of those instructions). And by the way David (the man after God’s own heart) violated volumes of these instructions in his own his expression of worship which the Father received with joy.Finally, if this isn’t “about us”, then who cares what we sing or what words we use? If It’s not about us, then it’s not about what we do. Right?

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