On our church FaceBook page, they have asked people to compile lists of their favourite Christian songs with a brief explanation of why they like them. I thought that it would be a bit of light relief to post my list here, it also means that I can link to videos of the songs, so you can hear what they sound like as well as getting my comments. Here are four songs (with a few freebies thrown in) that I really like.
Cajun Song by Bryn Haworth may sound like an odd choice (so will the others). One reason I like it is because of the groove, I love Cajun music and this is a pretty good attempt for a guy from Lancashire, though if you want to hear the real thing, try some Clifton Chenier. Anyway, Bryn’s song tells his life story, the story of living a dream that turned into a nightmare until he stumbles across an evangelistic tent meeting. The thing is, if I’d had any semblance of musical talent, the teenage me would love to have lived Bryn’s life.
I’d heard about the Christian singer Larry Norman as I was growing up, but it was only when I got to University and met someone who had a few of his albums that I actually heard his music. Like most seventies musicians, he is seen as a bit uncool these days and his obvious amillennialism is frowned on in my circles. However, I think he has a few brilliant songs, I’d quite like to include “Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus?” (parental advisory!) which rocks like anything and a great challenge, but I Am a Servant speaks me more than many other songs. If I had any talent, I might have written something similar.
My choices up till now, like most of my musical taste (except when I venture into the 1600s) are rooted in the 1970s, this next one is a tad more up to date. I’ve rarely heard anyone engage with the Christian need to be counter-cultural as well as this song does. The fact that it does so from within a modern musical idiom makes the message all the stronger. This is Beautiful Elegy by Exile Dial Tone.
We don’t need more rappers, we need more gospel centred churches,
Working as the body to bring the gospel to the nations,
When we face rejection, Jesus is our validation
You may have noticed that I’ve not listed any songs that are designed for congregational singing. This isn’t because there aren’t any good congregational songs, there are lots of them, many with a deep theological resonance. However, while I can appreciate these songs, that isn’t the same as having them as favourites. To be honest, having lived in Africa and worshipped in all sorts of international settings, I find it hard to engage with congregational singing in the UK. I’m not a great dancer and I can’t clap in time to save my life, but I do find that I crave a bit of wholistic enthusiasm in worship.
Anyway, this song is simple, though profound. I’ve sung it with multinational groups in many parts of the world and it brings back lots of happy memories. My fondest recollection is of singing the this in East Africa and a Kenyan colleague turning to me and saying; “it’s true, white guys can’t dance!”.
OK, I could have chosen, When I Survey, or In Christ Alone or one of a myriad of other wonderful hymns of the church. In objective terms, they are probably better songs than the ones I have chosen. However the term favourite is inherently subjective and these songs touch me on a number of levels, they reflect on my life, my memories and my calling and they rock!
I’ll finish with one more song. This is an amazing Christian song with incredibly profound lyrics. I can never listen to it without a thrill passing through my body and sometimes a tear in my eye. It’s not contemporary by any means, but, like the others, it rocks!