Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Beloved

In May 2007 JD Walt & I spent a day together in London, along with Tory Baucum. JD asked me what I felt was missing in contemporary worship songs. "Simple songs," was my answer. We have so many complex songs now, that the great discovery of the early Vineyard music - that worship can be intimate and simple and holy and deep - has almost been lost.

Last week, as JD and I chatted on the phone, he reminded me of that conversation as he told me of this song which he had written, My Beloved. It's available as a bonus track on the iTunes version of Chris Tomlin's Hello Love album (reviewed here, here)- but not in the UK, alas. When I listened to it, I fell in love with it, and put together these simple images for our Sunday worship this last week. I hope it blesses you, for this is one beautiful song, and I look forwards to it becoming a part of our worship vocabulary here.


theMuddledMarketPlace said...

really appreciate this going up
many thanks

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

any chance of knowing a bit about the visuals on this?
i know there's a charlie mackesy, but am not certain about most of the rest........

Marcus G said...

MMP - they are a collection of images from all over the place, and I'm afraid that very few are originals. I had about an hour to put this together, so I simply trawled my back catalogue of images that we had looked at before.
I hope any artists will forgive their work going uncredited but not unappreciated, and I will gladly pay each in full four times the fee I received for this.

Anonymous said...

This is blessing so many people Joyce

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

So. Why do you think there is no longer the simplicity in worship around....?

Marcus G said...

The Vineyard was always a great source of the simple; but the musicians took over the asylum there, and they got bored with simple, forgetting that their task was to draw people into the presence of Jesus, not just enjoy themselves in church.

Maybe they forgot that John Wimber was one of the best music producers of his day and put that aside in order to serve Jesus?

So am I saying that skill & intimacy in worship are incompatible? No. But there's a balance; it swung towards skill. I am grateful that Chris Tomlin now releases his songs in 2 keys - how he sings, and how he expects the real world to sing; that is a recognition of serving the church which others would do well to copy.

And simple songs have been forgotten because they have been replaced by anthemic ones - by writers who carry around with them pocket rock bands everywhere, with palpable incredulity that most churches don't have this facility. Simple songs can be sung by three people in a prayer meeting; anthemic ones cannot (try going for the loud bit in "God in my living" - go on!) or at least not by people who are not musical and who are reasonably self-aware.

Simple songs can be remembered. The whole way through. One of my seventy-something year olds told me he had been singing this JD Walt song all week. After hearing it twice.

Now tell me the whole lyric to "God in my living".

(And I really like that song, by the way - I'm just using it to show that it is not simple, though it has that place in the contemporary canon.

We have allowed experts to sell us sophistication. They were wrong. At least in part. They have robbed us of depth in simplicity, of the gentle loveliness of touching Jesus with little songs that are whispful prayers with melodies.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...


Marcus G said...

And I need to add an extra comment, cos I've referred to Tim Hughes song whilst critiquing other schools of writers. I am a big fan of Tim's songs, and only meant to compare one track (which is anthemic and beautiful, but not easily singable in small groups) with a truly simple and intimate worship song.

I love much of the music that comes out now. Back in the day I was part of a band writing and playing in the style that is commonplace now but was pretty unheard of then. My comments above sound unbalanced to me as I read it back: I guess I would like the musical ingenuity that happens all over the place these days to be creative in ways that also think about the needs of congregations. Ordinary people. Folk who would like to worship in homegroups without the benefit of a worship leader/lead worshipper reminding them of the tune via a microphone.

And the good old simple songs help this. Somehow worship songs have become so wedded to doing things in a "contemporary" style that unless it sounds like Coldplay/SnowPatrol etc etc we aren't sure it's a good song.

Context tells us if it's a good song. And the best songs work both in arenas and prayer triplets. There are excellent versions of this type of song - "Here I Am to Worship". "How Great Is Our God".

But there could always be more! I remember being told, when I was starting to write, that there was no need for a second verse unless I really needed to say something else. People should be able to remember a whole song. Faithful One. Jesus We Enthrone You. Lord I Lift Your Name.

People don't go out singing the sermons; but it's pretty tough when they struggle to go out singing the songs too. Or when you have to be under a certain age to do so.

I love the new songs, I do. But I'd like more that the whole body could sing, and more that embrace intimacy not just the anthemic moment. Songs for the living room as well as the arena. That's my point. I love worship CDs where I know the church could really sing the songs, and not just listen to them; where singing the songs at a special event or conference won't be bittersweet because I know that the chances of taking most of those tracks back to a place where we don't work with a rock band week in week out simply can't translate. I sort of wish that those men and women that God raises up to bless us with songs of worship would seem to appreciate this part of the task for the wider church a bit more.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

..and i guess this isn't the time to talk about pitching songs either....

i'll save that for another time