From Douglas Bond’s Stand Fast In the Way of Truth (pg. 301):
Men are less interested in attending church regularly and even less inclined to commit themselves to ministry responsibilities and leadership in the church in part because there is a significant shift in how Christians worship. Relational songs and emotive choruses have replaced the strong, manly hymns that were sung by men and boys and their families in worship for millenniums. Instead of stout hymns about battles, and triumphant psalms about conquering enemies, and doctrinal poetry calling men to base their lives and deeds on solid biblical foundations, the contemporary church sings superficial songs that make real men feel like they have to act like women in order to be Christians. Young men who grow up under pressure to sing breathy, feminine songs in worship will never be spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally capable of godly leadership in their homes, in Christ’s church, or in the world.
This is pretty much at the heart of my frustration with the majority of contemporary Christian music: it’s either mind-numbingly shallow or so effeminate it makes me want to gag. Sometimes, it’s both. Combined, it’s drivel.
There are exceptions, of course. Indelible Grace, Downhere, Newsboys, Sovereign Grace Music, Sanctus Real, to name a few. They write great music and even better lyrics. Unfortunately (and as I said before), these guys are exceptions. They are not the norm. And frankly, much of what passes for “Christian” music these days is astoundingly pathetic.
Gone are the theologically meaty hymns which our forefathers sang. People have moved onto lighter fare. Forget blood, battle, and triumph; bring on the mushy-gushy.
Are we worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? The “the great, the mighty, and the awesome God” (Neh. 9:32), the One who “must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25)? Or are we worshipping a soft, slick Jesus who acts more like a boyfriend than the God of All the Earth?
Consider this stanza from Hillsong United’s “Just Let Me Say”:
So let me say how much I love You
With all my heart I long for You
For I am caught in this passion of knowing
This endless love I’ve found in You.
Now compare it to this excerpt from Isaac Watt’s “Psalm 21”:
Thus, Lord, thy wondrous power declare,
And thus exalt thy fame;
Whilst we glad songs of praise prepare
For thine almighty name.
Not to be harsh, but doesn’t that make Hillsong’s attempt at “praise music” look lame?
In Future Men, Douglas Wilson writes,
The fact that the church has largely abandoned the singing of psalms means that the church has abandoned a songbook that is thoroughly masculine in its lyrics. The writer of most of the psalms was a warrior, and he knew how to fight the Lord’s enemies in song. With regard to the music of our psalms and hymns, we must return to a world of vigorous singing, vibrant anthems, more songs where the tenor carries the melody, open fifths, and glory. Our problem is not that such songs do not exist; our problem is that we have forgotten them. And in forgetting them, we are forgetting our boys. Men need to model such singing for their sons.
Of all the hymns I’ve sung, one of my favorites is “The Son of God Goes Forth to War” by Reginald Heber. Here’s a sample:
The Son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain.
His blood-red banner streams afar;
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below –
He follows in His train.
A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav’n
Thro’ peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us may grace be giv’n
To follow in their train!
Why do I love it? You guessed it: because it’s so manly. Because of it’s earthy, vivid picture of what it means to be one of Christ’s followers: blood, sweat, tears, and ultimately, by God’s grace, triumph and everlasting joy.
“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged
sword in their hand.” (Psalm 149:6)