Songwriting Part 2.5: Words
I recently responded to a blog comment and so many people told me to post it as an actual blog that I’ve decided to do just that. If you want the total context of the response check it out here but you don’t necessarily need it. I’ve edited/expanded it slightly to help it make more sense on its own.
Also I’d like to say that the person I responded to seems to be a very intelligent person and had several interesting points. I don’t want anyone to think that this is knock against him in any way. His comment just got me thinking about what makes me so passionate about this subject.
God didn’t choose these words. Men did. The Bible wasn’t even written in English. So someone else had to choose the way these words would be translated. There are actually 7 different words in the old testament that someone decided to translate as the single english word “praise” and several other words that someone decided to translate into the single word “worship”. My personal favorite means “to kiss, like a dog licking it’s master”. Look it up.
There is nothing “holy” about the letters “h” “o” “l” “y”. Words are just letters and sounds that represent meaning. And when we use the same phrases they lose their association with the powerful meanings behind them. The truth has not lost power, just the words we use to tell it. That’s why we need new words. If we never changed the way we say things we would only be able to worship in Hebrew and Greek, which would mean nothing to us.
These words must mean something to us otherwise worship is little more than a base ritual, not unlike any other religion, sect, or cult.
As far as singing “about” God as apposed to singing “to” him (of which I like to do both), one way to show affection to someone is to speak or sing about them in their presence. It’s the same thing as speaking or singing to them, only sometimes it’s even more meaningful. Besides this, they do it in the Psalms and even the angels in revelation sang “about” him, not to him. “Holy is” not “Holy you are”.
I think we need to repent for making the beautiful expression of this divinely mysterious romance, that we so crudely have interpreted “worship”, into some dead ritualistic obligation. God is a real person, not some brain in the sky, not letters on a page, not a fairy tale.