OK. So my thought process started after I recorded this:
I’ve loved some of the stuff Emeli Sande has done – songs with really passionate lyrics, that ‘sounded spiritual’ in places (I have no idea about her religious beliefs…). If I’m honest I hadn’t really considered whether I should use a secular song in worship – it just seemed like a good idea.
Also, it’s not the first time I’ve tried this – I’ve combined the lyrics of Amazing Grace to the tune and chorus of So Clear Now by Snow Patrol and also the Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley Hallelujah chorus with Vineyards I Love Your Presence – all to good effect.
The argument found on various websites is asking whether our current worship song choice, and lyric base is really so shallow that it means we have to borrow and use from ‘the world’. Should we be using what was writtten about human love and relationships , with (probably) no thought about an eternal God? Was the original author a Christian…or a Muslim…or an atheist?
While not assuming any authority on the matter (!) my own thoughts are as follows.
Firstly – God is the creator. We are made in his image (Christians and non-Christians alike). Therefore all creativity of mankind is based on the nature of God we are reflecting. Satan does not create, but rather corrupt the creation. Romans 11 v36 says “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever!”
All things! A song may not have been birthed by a love of God, but when worship is all about heart, why can we not apply our heart/motive into the words of a song that was not intended so. And yes, I do believe that sometimes our lyrics are too shallow, often repeating over used phrases – and for an infinite God worthy of eternal praise, our worship language needs to be greatly expanded. Maybe borrowing new and unique phrases from secular songs might actually inspire out worship to lead into new directions?
Secondly – If we expand our thought process outside the circle of songs…for example what about my guitar? I bet the luthier that designed my guitar did not do so for Christian worship, yet we claim it so. The drums? We claim it so. The film clip used in a preach – we claim it for a purpose higher than it’s original intent.
In fact, I believe we can take anything and turn it back for the glory of God, and I believe we can do the same with a secular song in our worship times.
What do you think?