Evangelical Worship Edition.
January 28, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “Unbroken Praise” by Matt Redman.
I’m not happy with the idea of this song being included in corporate worship. It’s an empty song. It’s a bit self-seeking, actually. Nowhere in this song is there any actual praise to God for Who He is or what He has done.
Matt Redman VEVO (Lyric Video)
Lyrics (via Worship Together)
Praise unending be Yours
Be Yours forevermore
Praise untainted, praise unfading
Be Yours, be Yours forevermore
Be Yours, be Yours forevermore
Unbroken Praise be Yours, God, forever
All my praise be Yours, God, forever
Lord take this life, let it become Your throne
Unbroken praise be Yours
My devotion be Yours
Be Yours forevermore, be Yours
Be Yours forevermore
So let my deeds outrun my words
And let my life outweigh my songs
Writer(s): Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise , Call to Worship , Commitment & Dedication
Ministry(s): Passion , ThankYou Music
CCLI #: 7043173
Scripture Reference(s): Jude 1:25; Psalm 86:12
Okay, so the song doesn’t say very much. It uses the word “praise” a lot, but the focus doesn’t seem to be on God being worthy of all praise; rather, it seems more focused on how we are committing ourselves to praising Him. Let’s begin with the cited references.
Jude 25 (ESV) 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Now lets look at it in context:
Jude 17-25 (ESV)
17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
The context of the close of this letter is that of eternity. Perseverance in the faith until the Day of Christ’s Return, the day of His mercy on all who believe in Him, when we will be resurrected to eternal life in Christ. Let’s look at the second reference.
Psalm 86:12 (ESV) I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
Now lets look at the Psalm:
Psalm 86 (ESV) | Great Is Your Steadfast Love
A Prayer of David.
86 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
The cited verse comes toward the end of a stanza that began with actual praise to God and closed with God having delivered David’s soul from the depths of Sheol… again, this is in eternity. David is praising God for his Salvation, and confessing that he will glorify the Name of the Lord in eternity.
Now, getting back to the Matt Redman song, there is not a single confession of the worthiness of God to be praise. He is Worthy, absolutely worthy, but the song didn’t bother to name a one. That’s odd. That’s a problem. King David prayers and his psalms praised the LORD God for who He is and what He has done and what He has Promised to do. If this song is to be considered a song of worship and praise to the Living God, then the Living God should be worshiped and praised in the lyric. At best… at the very best… giving a lot of grace to the song… it is a song about the idea of praise and worship to a Living God.
Verse 1. This is a verse about the kind of praise God should have in eternity. Okay. But you know… in seeker-sensitive, “worship experience”, “presence inviting” churches… this verse is sung as if we are offering this sort of praise in the here and now. But we aren’t. It’s like singing about giving the LORD a shout… but no one is shouting. Or singing about bowing down before God… but not bowing down. Pretty words bereft of meaning. If the intended context of this verse is eternity, that’s fine but why not start with confessing the faith in the One Who secures our entrance into eternal life?
Chorus. Well, it starts off seemingly in the same context of “forever”… a bit of a speed bump with the sudden shift to “all MY praise”… and then we’ve left the rails with the odd request, Lord take this life, let it become Your throne (cue vinyl-record-scratch). What the heck does that even mean? The LORD is seated on His throne now… with Our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ at His Right Hand. This isn’t praise, this is requesting special favor, special position, to be the throne of God. There were a couple of Apostles whose mother had asked for similar honors… didn’t get the response she was aiming for.
Matthew 20:20-28 (ESV) | A Mother’s Request
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered,“You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The point being, God has His throne, and we aren’t worshiping Him to be made into something uniquely special ourselves. He has already done everything for us… our praise flows from our thanksgiving for what has already been delivered and what has been promised as though it were already delivered… because His promises are assured.
Verse 2. Oh, well, why not just go all-in with the self-promotion. Let’s praise God by pointing out our devotion, and our surrender to Him. I’m sure He will be pleased/impressed by how devoted we are to Him (/sarcasm_font) . The song hasn’t actually Praised God for anything…. but it has asked of God a special place in recognition for the praise the song is suggesting will come to Him.
Bridge. And now I’m just throwing up my hands in despair. After not actually Praising God for anything, we are revisiting the idea of God making our lives His throne by granting us the special favor of great works that exceed our words, and a great life that outweighs our songs? Is the song an attempt to secure temporal prosperity and fame in exchange for eternal, unbroken praise in the afterlife? My mind keeps jumping toward the Osteens, with Victoria Osteen saying, “So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?” Read more. No, Victory, we cannot “amen” that statement.
The visible church has been tolerating people-pleasing, ear-scratching preachers for so long, that we’ve gone the extra mile to write people-pleasing worship songs. Songs that praise the people for their good work of singing praises… or rather, singing along with the emotionally mystical songs played by the band. Matt Redman is the celebrity… because he writes songs that make the people singing them feel good, not because he is gifted at praising God. He’s a gifted musician and singer… but these lyrics don’t lead people in praise or worship of a Living God. The song is empty and self-seeking.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,