Putting Words To God

“It’s not called ‘the word business’ for a reason,” my co-writer joked as I agonized over the next line of a lyric years ago. I hadn’t been in Nashville long – but long enough to know he was wrong.

Christian music is the only genre defined by its lyrical content and not musical composition and production. (Unless you count “Spanish” as a genre, I guess.) I’m not getting into an argument – as some are in the habit of doing on the interwebs – about whether “Christian” should be an adjective at all, or how “Christian music” should be defined, or whether it should even exist, blah blah blah.

Not. The. Point.

The point is that words matter. Perhaps more in Christian music than in any other genre. Especially to Presbyterian producers and bible-lovin’ A&R guys.

They didn’t understand the apostrophe in the phrase “all’s grace,” for instance. “Is it possessive? What does that mean?” So I changed it to “all is grace.” (Sorry, Ann.) All’s cleared up now.

Then there was the song Come By Here. The chorus says “Come and meet us here, come and touch our tears and we will weep no more…” That gave Mitch and the A&R guy the wrong impression. They thought I was preaching some brand of prosperity gospel and about to launch my own television ministry – Come to Jesus and all your problems will go away! So, now the chorus reads “that we may weep no more.” Doesn’t roll of the tongue as well, but…

Even after all this tweaking I still realize I will be misunderstood at some point by someone listening to this record. That’s part poetry’s fault, part lazy listening perhaps, and part the limitations of this writer’s skill.


Frightening really.

Frightening because I’m not risking giving someone the wrong impression of a girl or a sunset here. I’m risking misrepresenting God and what allegiant life with God is like.

If ever there were a convincing argument against “Christian music” this would be it for me: That when finite beings with a rhyming dictionary and four chords sit down to say something about God they will sometimes miss the mark. And even when they don’t, someone will likely believe they have.

I write about God because I love Him deeply. And yet because I love Him, I’m afraid to write about Him.

Tomorrow we press “record.” I face my fears and believe in grace. God’s. And yours.

Thankful for both.