Posts Tagged Worship

Don’t Get in the Way!

So, if you would like an illustration of what some of us fear about the intrusion of performance style into the worship, here’s one for you from a political-current events blog that I check in on from time to time. The title of the post is “How Great She Is” and it is in reference to Carrie Underwood and is a play off the title to “How Great Thou Art” which Underwood sings in the video embedded in the post. Here is the pertinent portion of the post:

Vince Gill is a great songwriter, guitar player and singer, but the star of this video is Carrie Underwood, with whom he performed a duet of “How Great Thou Art” at a recent Country Music Awards event. Underwood, of course, is the most successful American Idol contestant ever. This Yahoo News story describes the impact that Underwood and Gill had on their fellow musicians. If you are a country music fan, it is fun to identify the stars in the audience who were blown away by Underwood’s performance.

If you watch the video, you will see that “blown away by Underwood’s performance” is an apt description. I can’t speak for others, but the tendency in our culture to focus on the performer and performance does not fit any biblical conception of worship. With no agenda other than the praise of a performer, the blog writer illustrates this dynamic clearly. A song which was written to magnify God’s greatness ends up serving the reputation (perceived greatness) of the performers. The song becomes a vehicle for the performer to showcase his or her talents—in reality, the song is in a completely secondary role. The observer naturally responds to a performance like that with “How Great She Is” because that was the point of the performance.

Frankly, it bothers me that “How Great Thou Art” is treated like a vehicle for performers to show off their skills, but I really don’t expect anything different than that from the Country Music Awards. That any church would approach worship like this, though, is indefensible. That applies, by the way, across the board from Opera singer wannabes to American Idol aspirants. Newsflash for singers (and preachers!): it’s not about you!

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