Disclaimer: since I’m Protestant, I don’t have the same aversion to On Eagle’s Wings and Lord of the Dance. I dare say there are many terrible worship songs that I’ve missed.
Our God is an Awesome God by Rich Mullins
In the 90s this song was ubiquitous. You might think this is a good song if you’ve only heard the innocuous chorus:
Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love,
Our God is an awesome God.
Allow me to burst that happy bubble. The first verse goes like this:
When He rolls up His sleeves ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz (Our God is an awesome God).
There is thunder in His footsteps and lightnin’ in His fists (Our God is an awesome God).
And the Lord wasn’t jokin’ when He kicked ’em out of Eden,
It wasn’t for no reason that He shed His blood,
His return is very close and so you better be believin’
That our God is an awesome God.
Did you do the hand motions? Did the music leader pretend to roll up his sleeves? Yikes.
My Father’s House, by Audio Adrenalin
In Christian school, this was one of our favorites because you got to yell “Touchdown!” But did anyone sing it in church? Gracious I hope not.
Come and go with me to my Father’s house.
It’s a big, big, house, with lots and lots of room.
There’s a big, big, table, with lots and lots of food.
There’s a big, big, yard, where we can play football (TOUCHDOWN!)
It’s a big, big, house. It’s my Father’s house.
Not one of your better moments, Audio Adrenalin.
I Could Sing of Your Love Forever by Hillsong Australia, the bearers of all things terrible
Hooo boy. This one would go on and on until you thought “Well, maybe YOU can sing forever but I’ve got places to be.” Worst of all was the bridge:
Oh I feel like dancing,
It’s foolishness I know.
But when the world has seen the light,
They will dance with joy like we’re dancing now.
Imagine this sung in a room full of awkward white people tapping the chairs in front of them out of rhythm.
In the Secret, In the Quiet Place by Chris Tomlin
South Park did an entire episode on Christian music that made me laugh so hard I cried. Cartman decides that trying to do a secular band is hard work, so he forms a Christian rock band and makes platinum records in the niche industry. It satirizes the way that many Christian songs sound like they could be sung to your boyfriend.
Maybe the creators listened to this song for inspiration:
I want to know you, I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more.
I want to touch you, I want to see your face,
I want to know you more.
I know, Saint Julian of Norwich etc, but at least that woman was a good poet. This song never mentions God or Jesus, so you could be singing to your spouse or your boyfriend or your favorite member of the Backstreet Boys. Imagine singing this song surrounded by a bunch of adults when you’re a teenager. So awkward….
Trading My Sorrows, by Darrell Evans
There are two things I hate about this song. First, there’s the chorus, which literally says “Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord” over and over until you want to cut off your ears. Second, there’s the idea that being a Christian means you magically lay down your sorrows and sickness and shame “for the joy of the Lord.”
If I had to pin-point my biggest problem with contemporary evangelicalism, it would be this health and wealth style theology. There’s no room for the Psalmist that weeps and curses and rages, because Christianity is all about being happy and oh so joyful now that Jesus made everything better. Except when it doesn’t work that way, and it’s implied that you must be doing it wrong, or maybe you’re not a Christian at all.
And to put this talk of sorrows and sickness to an upbeat tune and ask that people jump up and down during the chorus? Oy vey.
Come, Now is the Time to Worship, by Philip Craig & Dean
True confession: in high school I sang on the chapel team. (It was a dark and desperate time). There were praise songs, which were upbeat and bouncy like “Trading My Sorrows,” and there were worship songs, which could steam up a car window. We did the praise songs first and then the worship songs, and this was almost always the transition. (Or the one below).
My biggest beef with this song, other than overuse, is the bridge. (Is it just me, or do song writers put the worst stuff in the bridges of worship songs?)
One day every knee will bow.
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly chose you now.
Well aren’t we self-satisfied.
This is the Air I Breathe, by Mercy Me
I saved the worst for last. You literally sing “this is the air I breathe,” in a breathy teenage-style sing-song, over and over until you get to the chorus:
And I, I-I-I-I, I’m desperate for you.
And I, I-I-I-I, I’m lost without you.
Etc. You can’t understand how bad it is until you’ve sung those words twenty-seven times in a gymnasium.
Did you attend evangelical churches in the last two decades? Which songs made you cringe? Which ones would you rather do instead?