I accidentally the worship song

God drive my life

(W: Recently we’ve sung a few songs that almost went out of their way to be unintelligible. Here’s Cheryl’s thoughts on the fine line between creativity and intelligibility.)

Song lyrics are a form of poetry, and poetry should obey grammar, or at a stretch at least poetic grammar. Note that the further you stretch grammar to make it fit your poetry, often the less coherent it becomes. “Jesus, I have taken my cross” vs “Jesus, I my cross have taken.”

Even so, there are still conventions governing ‘poetic’ grammar that means saying “Jesus, my taken I have cross” is really getting into incoherent and downright ungrammatical rather than creative. If one of our chief aims for singing worship songs is to “teach and admonish one another” (Col. 3:16), I’m perplexed as to why songwriters would craft lines like:

I’m thankful for the efforts of songwriters to help us “sing a new song” to the Lord in light of what He’s accomplished in Christ. But please, check for grammatical errors!

2 replies on “I accidentally the worship song”

  1. If I can defend the Tomlin line for a second.. it does follow “If our God is for us, who could stand against us” so while it might not be the best grammar, I think the context does make it understandable.

    I recently came up with the lyric “drowning to life in Your ocean of grace” but my wife vetoed it as confusing… 😀

  2. Sure! God has given us a great ability to draw meaning from imperfect grammar and semantics. It can be very artistic, even, to play with this.

    Still, I would rather sing a worship song with poor meter/rhyme/music but helpful and edifying meaning, than a song with artistic metrical/rhymic/musical emphasis at the expense of meaning. In some cases it almost feels to me like the lyricist is saying: “Don’t think too hard about the actual words, because I didn’t.” That makes me, well, sadly, not want to think too hard about the actual words.

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