Gospel Music: An Open Letter
In 1978, Andrae Crouch released his project “Live In London”, his seventh album with his group at the time, the Disciples. Crouch, a very influential composer and musician in the Gospel genre, broke new ground with each and every song he penned. With songs such as “The Blood (Will Never Lose Its Power)”, “Through It All”, and many others, Crouch carved out a legacy that still remains to this day. On this album, he would pen a powerful song that many people would fall in love with. Though “My Tribute” ended up being the final song on the album, it summed up everything that could be, would be, and should be said by Crouch and believers worldwide.
How can I say thanks
for the things You have done to me?
Things so undeserved,
yet You gave to prove Your love for me;
the voices of a million angels
could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.
The song then crescendos into an anthem of a chorus that simply stated “To God Be The Glory… Great Things He Has Done.”
The concept-to God Be the Glory-is a foundational principle, a doctrinal truth that speaks to the excellence, sovereignty, and power of an awesome and Holy God. Yet somehow, within the stylings of today’s gospel music, this theme has been lost or cast aside for a different message. One that speaks to the inner person of the listener and directs one to look into one’s self instead of looking in awe at the perfect majesty of God. We hear things said such as “The God in Me” or “I shall have what I decree”, along with other terms that take away and tear down the image of God. No longer do we have songs such as “God Is”, “What Shall I Do?”, “Where Is Your Faith In God”, and “Changed.” We can visibly see that the key themes of the older Gospel songs were: God was in control, God was the source, and God was at the center.
The good news of the Gospel is that God’s sovereign grace is being displayed in the lives of His people. Without this at the forefront, Gospel music is not truly living up to its definition and essence. You can have the musical elements and style of musicianship, but if it lacks this key component, it’s just inspirational music. Now I know that a lot of the songs we have were meant to be a means of encouragement, and I have no issues with that at all. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul speaks to this very fact by saying “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Paul tells us to encourage and to build up one another. People are quick to say, “Yes! I’ll speak to their situation and encourage them. That’ll do it!” Not so fast, Paul left us instructions on how to encourage. Look at Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Of course, we understand that the “He” that Paul is referring to is God. Hence, Paul confirms that at the source of our hope which includes the promises that we claim and gifts we receive is God. This doesn’t come from an inward source, it isn’t something we can conjure up, but it is from God who is the Giver of all good things as James 1:5 and 1:17 would suggest.
Call to Restore
Now, this open letter wasn’t written as a means to bash, condemn, or to “throw shade” (sorry, it’s the Hip-Hop kid in me) at a particular ideology. This was written as a call to refocus the church’s musical lenses back to the main thing. As we pen lyrics and select songs to sing for our services, let us ask the question of “Is the music used for worship a worthy vehicle to carry the weight of God’s glory?” Everything done from Creation to the return of our Savior has all been orchestrated to bring glory and honor to the majesty of God. It is time for us to herald that once again. In Isaiah 43:10, God spoke through the prophet to the people of Israel and He still speaks to this generation saying “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” We have been given an amazing duty as the elect to serve as the oracles of God here on earth. Let us share with joy as we herald the goodness of His grace. Let us heed the wisdom given by the prophet Jeremiah, “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
3 thoughts on “Gospel Music: An Open Letter”
I found it quite interesting when you mentioned that gospel music should speak with the inner person of the listener and send messages to them that God is at the center of our lives. Speaking of gospel music, I was asked to play the piano for our local town church, so I wanted to get piano books for gospel songs. I’ll take note of this while I look around for gospel piano books for sale.
Seriously, I'm a Dr.
That’s a good post, bro!
Check out David Bailey of http://www.MakeMusic.com. Good, biblical gospel.