Interpreting Music in Worship

Nearly all of this post is excerpted from this much deeper post from Concordia University Irvine.

“Using the song “Reckless Love,” let’s explore this phenomenon and consider 3 different perspectives of meaning: (1) the songwriter’s, (2) the text’s, and (3) the participant’s. At the heart of the controversy is the song’s use of the word “reckless:””

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah”

  1. “Cory intended to use “reckless” to convey a kind of love that stopped at nothing to save us, even if it involved paying an exorbitant price for undeserving recipients.”
  2. “This is the point at which people diverge into two camps: those that interpret “reckless” as “thoughtless,” and are dissatisfied with the song, and those that interpret “reckless” as in “reckless abandon,” and find in it the sweetness of the gospel.”
  3. “The final wrench in the worship song debate is that most people will determine the meaning for themselves as the song engages them in their own circumstances…”

I especially loved how the article outlines how to seek out feedback (emphasis added):

“You will find that often feedback will fall into 3 categories: The Nay-Sayer, the Enthusiast, and the Apathetic. Nay-Sayers are almost always thoughtful people. Listen to them! Give them a voice, and try to understand where they are coming from. Enthusiasts are encouraging people by nature, and well-directed encouragement is always needed in the church, but be careful not to let the Enthusiasts drown out other helpful voices. Thank them! Challenge them! Apathetic participants were likely not always that way. Be patient with these people! Invite them into the process, and do not impose on them a need to deeply care for these things. It may be that they appear apathetic because they think that nobody in the church cares about their opinion anyway. If you care, and care consistently, this might change over time.”

Source: Reckless Love and The Different Things People Mean When They Sing by Rev. Steve Zank

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