Another Study in Contrasts: “Thy Strong Word” and “My Desire”

Today I wish to start by directing your attention to a worship song that is probably familiar to many of you.  This song has been around for a while and has been done by Hillsong, Jeremy Camp, Kirk Franklin, and Fred Hammond, just to name a few.  You have probably sung this song at your church somewhere along the line.  Take a gander at this:

This is my desire, to honor You.
Lord with all my heart I worship You.
All I have within me, I give You praise.
All that I adore is in You.

Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul,
I live for You alone.
Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake,
Lord have Your way in me.

Okay people, I call bulls— on this whole thing.  For starters:  “I live for You alone”?  It is much more accurate to say “I live for me alone”.  Which is precisely my problem, and precisely the reason why I need Christ.

Granted, this song could be talking about New Covenant realities, i. e. the new me that has been brought to life in Christ as opposed to the old, dead self.  Or it could be speaking in faith, calling things that are not as if they were, kind of like C. S. Lewis’s idea of “pretending” that a thing is true even if it isn’t, and then seeing it become true.

But still.  This song is a problem because it sets the bar impossibly and unrealistically high.  It speaks of things that I know are not true in my own life and will probably never be true–not on this side of heaven, at any rate.  I do not feel that I can sing such a song with integrity.

Finally, notice where the focus is in this song:  Me.  “This is MY desire…with all MY heart…all I have within MEI give You MY heart…every breath that I take…” you get the idea.  This is all about me, what I desire, what I do, what I give.  Even if I could give God my heart in total honesty and integrity, what would He want with it, knowing the corruption that lies inside it?  Is there anyone else out there who can honestly feel differently about this?

Now, in the way of a contrast, take a gander at this Lutheran hymn:

Thy strong Word did cleave the darkness;
At Thy speaking it was done.
For created light we thank Thee
While Thine ordered seasons run
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to Thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

Lo, on those who dwelt in darkness,
Dark as night and deep as death,
Broke the light of Thy salvation,
Breathed Thine own life-giving breath.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to Thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous;
Bright with Thine own holiness,
Glorious now, we press toward glory,
And our lives our hopes confess.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to Thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

From the cross Thy wisdom shining
Breaketh forth in conqu’ring might;
From the cross forever beameth
All Thy bright redeeming light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to Thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

Give us lips to sing Thy glory,
Tongues Thy mercy to proclaim,
Throats to shout the hope that fills us,
Mouths to speak Thy holy name.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
May the light which Thou dost send,
Fill our songs with alleluias,
Alleluias without end!

God the Father, light-creator,
To Thee laud and honor be.
To Thee, Light from Light begotten,
Praise be sung eternally.
Holy Spirit, light-revealer,
Glory, glory be to Thee.
Mortals, angels, now and ever
Praise the Holy Trinity!

Text: Martin H. Franzmann

Here it is completely the other way.  It is not about us, or about anything that we desire, give, or do.  Instead, the focus is almost entirely upon God, who does everything through His word.  He speaks, and it happens.  Through His word He cleaves the darkness–and it is done.  Through His word He speaks His own righteousness over us–and we are made righteous.

It isn’t until the fifth verse that there is any question of us singing His glory, proclaiming His mercy, speaking His name or shouting the hope that fills us.  Notice that our singing/speaking/proclaiming/shouting does not happen until God has made us righteous by speaking righteousness over us.  And even then our capacity to do any of the above is entirely a gift from God.

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2 thoughts on “Another Study in Contrasts: “Thy Strong Word” and “My Desire”

  1. On the one hand I get what you’re saying. On the other hand, I’m just not sure about the criteria being used. The one set of lyrics repeat I and Me several times, and the other set does not. But does that necessarily mean the latter is focused toward Godly worship but the former is not?

    Just to play devil’s advocate, let’s look at these lyrics by the Psalmist David (a man after God’s own heart)

    “…I will fear no evil for you are with ME; your rod and staff comfort ME.”

    “Surely goodness and mercy will follow ME all the days of MY life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

    These are from Psalm 23, a very well known passage. There are 205 verses in the Psalms that contain both words, I and Me. I know there’s a problem in P&W music; there’s plenty of crappy lyrics selling records. But… MY problem is that I need a savior; is it wrong to say that?

  2. Pingback: Now Playing at Life in Mordor: “Thy Strong Word” and “My Desire” « Everyone's Entitled to Joe's Opinion

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