DiM | “Touch The Sky” by Hillsong United

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

July 07, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United which currently sits at #16 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

I’d like to begin by openly admitting that I have a negative bias against all things Hillsong, due to their false teaching, bible twisting, and repeated failure to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully. I will do my best to give this song a fair evaluation, but I wanted to clearly acknowledge my bias up front. Having said that, this song has some powerful production power, wonderfully mastered and hypnotic vocal dynamics. Lyrically… the song is self-indulgent, mystically emotional, nonsense. I look forward to the day when Hillsong United puts out a theologically sound piece of music that makes it onto the top20 charts. Not so much for their sake, but for the sake of the millions who blindly follow them.

Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Touch The Sky

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept low

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

What treasure waits within Your scars
The gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me again

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Publishing: © 2014 Hillsong Music Publishing (APRA)
Writer(s): Joel Houston, Dylan Thomas & Michael Guy Chislett

Discussion

As I said in the introduction, these lyrics are self-indulgent. The focus of these lyrics are not on God they are on the singer. Not focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but on the piety/discoveries of the singer. As with most Hillsong material, there are allusions to or themes from scripture. No doubt the creative writing process might have even begun with some of these passages (most likely taken from the Message parody). Let’s look at a couple that I could recognize while reading through the lyrics.

“I found my life when I laid it down”

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

So, once we look at the reference we see a glaring difference between what is being sung and what we find in Scripture. This statement is recorded in each of the Gospels, and in each Jesus is talking about losing your life for His sake. Hillsong United has turned this idea into a mystical discipline not unlike “emptying oneself” as we see in the eastern religions.

“Find me here at your feet again”

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) | Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus’ teaching, and it was the good portion that will not be taken away from her. This passage is sometimes misrepresented as an appeal for Christians that vocation, hard work, and discipline are distractions from so-called spiritual living. In contemporary services, often times allegory invoked places “praise and worship” as the good portion and the faithful, exegetical teaching of the scriptures as the “anxious and troubled about many things”. You’ll see this whenever a church leader describes his service as “relevant”, “relatable”, “young”, or “young” (The Man Behind Hillsong: Brian Houston).

John 12:1-3 (ESV) | Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

For this song, I think this is more the imagery they are going for, which moves us into the mystically emotional quality of the lyrics. This is a very intimate moment, one of deep thanksgiving (Lazarus was there after having been risen from the dead by Jesus) and it leads directly into death and burial of Jesus Christ. That is the focus of this event, because Jesus would have to be buried before His body can be properly anointed and washed… the very reason the women go out to the tomb on the third day, finding it empty… Christ had risen. But the song lyric doesn’t go in that direction… instead, it gets a bit indulgent, almost emotionally romantic… Everything I am, Reaching out, I surrender come sweep me up in, Your love again and my soul will dance on the, Wings of Forever. We don’t have the singer sitting at the foot of Jesus in repentance, for teaching, or even out of thanksgiving; rather, the singer is invoking surrender language for being swept up in a loving embrace so her soul can dance on the wings of forever. Emotional drivel.

The rest of the song is a hypnotic poetry of nonsense verse. My soul breathing… upward falling… I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground… it’s artistic, but it doesn’t convey any real meaning, not in any Biblical sense. The hearer is free to interpret these lines in any way that seems to fit at any given moment. That might be fine for secular music, but shouldn’t be a mainstay of Christian music.

Conclusion

This song shouldn’t be sung in any church because the object of the song is the self, not God. I would argue that it shouldn’t be on the Christian airwaves, because there is nothing in it directly identifying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This song could have been written by a Native American spiritualist, a Hindu Yogi, or Far-eastern Buddhist. The music quality is phenomenal, but that only serves to obfuscate its lyrical pablum.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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