I recently visited a church with a very learned Pastor. I really enjoyed the sermon and was doing so until the end – despite the fact that the sermon was entitled: “Because I’m Happy“. When I heard the title, I knew where it was going; another one of the countless references to the Grammy-winning Pharrell Williams song. However, there was enough solid Biblical content to keep me from getting dissuaded. The sermon was reaching it’s conclusion when – all of a sudden- the song was played over the sound system. Streamers came out of nowhere and were waved in the air, people clapped and swayed to the music. In addition, we were encouraged to stand and join in the celebration to show our “happiness”. Needless to say, I – with my antiquated Pentecostal upbringing – was taken aback.
I don’t feel any particular way about the song, itself. As a songwriter, I like the structure, lyrical content, imagery and musical continuity. I am, in no way, knocking the song, but it’s use in the church is very inappropriate to me. After all, this is still a “secular” song and there are a few other tunes that can convey the message of joy to a congregation. Tasha Cobbs (well-known Gospel recording artist and Worship Leader) has a wonderful song by the same name, Mary Mary have a song entitled; “Joy” and there are countless others by various Gospel/Christian artists.
I am probably the last person to say anything about a song that has religious ambiguity. My whole project’s theme is “Relativity” and is filled with songs about life’s many facets. Yet, I remain true to my convictions by subtly infusing references to God. Will the church incorporate my songs into their services? After all, I am a product of the church. My tune; “Daddy Loves His Girl” would fit beautifully at a christening. “You’re My Hero” would fit just about any gradutation of Independence Day celebration, Why not? Is it because familiarity breeds contempt?
Mr. Williams has made no public connection with the church. I am a little confused about what is now acceptable and what is not. I pondered many nights and re-wrote my songs so that I wouldn’t be considered an outcast only to find that you can have a “feel good” song and the People of God will eat it up.
I guess my point is that we are setting a dangerous precedent. Many R&B musical themes, secular references and sayings from popular culture between have snuck into our services from time to time. We now are rolling out the red carpet for different messages to infiltrate our services. When we come to worship, it is our refuge from the world. The place where we escape the rigors of warfare and get our spirits renewed to go back into battle. To me, this is as if the Trojan Horse is being wheeled into Christendom. Seemingly it is a gift that turns out to be filled with our demise.
Let’s keep the line of demarcation intact for the sake of integrity, but not separation. There is a sound of the church and I don’t think it should be replaced with any hint of the world. We have very talented writers and singers who can apply their gifts to providing songs for any occasion. It has always been my thought that we needed “life songs” that come from a Christian perspective. I think we have them, but may be overlooking them just to have something different. I’m not speaking against it, I’m just saying we need to be careful.