DiM | “Heart Like Heaven” by Hillsong United

Evangelical Worship Edition.

February 01, 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 “Heart Like Heaven” by Hillsong United.

With only one song left on this list after today, I must say that I’m more concerned than ever about the poor doctrine being taught through the musical arts in what is supposed to be Christian Corporate Worship. I’ve come to realize that the modern church-musician has abandoned the traditional role of music as a vehicle for teaching doctrine and memorizing Scriptures. The modern-day musician thinks his/her role is to create a “worship experience” using music. Regardless of whatever quasi-spiritual/mystical purpose for writing your songs/music, what we sing becomes what we believe. We discussed this reality a while back in DiM | lex orandi, lex credendi. Progressive Liberals (within the Church as well as in pagan politics) like to play in word games where there is no such thing as reality, but all is a matter of perception and intention. It’s nonsense, of course, but if your spirituality is no more meaningful than “being nice” you are easily peer-pressured into “going along” with bad corporate worship as long as “it truly touched” the musician or pastors of your church. We need to wake up. We memorize songs more easily than we do Scripture. What we sing becomes what we believe much faster than something we hear preached once, even if the bulletin has a fool-proof 3 steps to happiness handout included. We are giving these songs way too much of a pass. They are empty, vain, and sensually focused.

Getting down to the song for today, I love Electronic Dance Music (EDM)… it’s the style of music that most directly moves me, personally. I enjoy many forms of music, but EDM is one of my core favorites. Hillsong United gets this style of music and performs it well. Nevertheless… the lyric comes up wanting. As with most of these songs, there is a phrase or line that sound very Biblical and one is tempted to assume the rest is equally praiseworthy. This song is leavened with mystical sensuality… it’s aim isn’t to bring glory to God; rather, it is to evoke a sense of desire and felt passion in the singer somehow directed at God.

Hillsong United Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse
Holy no measure knows Your worth
Face down where mercy finds me first

Pre-Chorus
Whoa
If you sought perfection
Whoa
I’d die trying to reach it
Whoa
But this broken heart is all
You want

Chorus
Singing
Holy, heart like heaven, singing
Holy God almighty own this heart broke sound
Singing holy is Your name
Singing holy is Your name

Bridge
Own the sound forever
Heart and heaven together
Singing, ‘Holy is Your Name’
And if it lifts You higher, burn in me Your desire
A passion worthy of Your Name
| 2x |

Pre-Chorus 2
Whoa
And I’ll throw my weakness
Whoa
Into Your greatness
Whoa
If this broken heart is all
You want

Final Chorus
For You are worthy, Jesus Saviour
You are worthy, King forever
Hear my soul cry out
Singin’ holy is Your Name

Writer(s): Matt Crocker, Joel Houston
Theme(s): Call to Worship , God’s Attributes
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 7037921
Scripture Reference(s): Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 99:3

Discussion

Okay so the song is the typical vague, mystically sensual poetry fare we should expect coming out of Hillsong. But there is a real doozy in the first scriptural reference cited. Let’s take a look.

Isaiah 14:13 (ESV)
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;

Does this verse sound familiar? No? If you know the answer try not to spoil it just yet for your neighbors. Let’s look at this verse in its immediate context.

Isaiah 14:3-23 (ESV)
3 When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
5 The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
6 that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
8 The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
9 Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.
12“How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts.

Did you catch it? The verse being quoted was part of a pronouncement of judgement against Satan, here personified as Babylon. It is also a prophecy against the actual Babylon that had taken Israel captive. Point being, WorshipTogether lists this single verse… without context… as a reference for this vague song supposedly written for worship. What a theological mess. And remember, this is on the list of “best new worship songs 2015”.

Let’s go ahead and look at Psalm 99 next:

Psalm 99 (ESV) | The Lord Our God Is Holy
99 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
    Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the Lord, and he answered them.
7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.
8 O Lord our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!

So, they pull one verse that compels “them” to praise God’s Great and Awesome Name, for He is Holy. There is a lot more in this Psalm that doesn’t even get touched on in the Hillsong song. Why reference this Psalm, and what does this have to do with the Isaiah 14 passage? We could connect the themes in a sermon, but this song doesn’t even try. I don’t even think the song writers used these verses, and if they did they had no idea of the context of the Isaiah 14 passage.

I’m not going through this song line-by-line. There’s no point, and frankly, I’m upset by the “references” used to justify this nonsense. The overall theme of the song is a pious sounding, “God doesn’t ask me to be perfect, just broken” and then makes odd appeals to God for a desire and passion worthy of His name. Telling God to “own the sound” of us singing holy… what does that nonsense even mean? There are the obligatory “whoa”s and the nonsensical appeal to God to listen to our souls crying out… dear Christian, do you know how to cry out with your soul while you are living in an earthly body? Is that a level of muscle control one can learn? No. It’s empty words weaved into a transcendental audio track with warmly echoing harmonious voices. This song teaches Christians that they need to passionately reach out to God since that is really what he wants… your brokenness felt in a deep and mystically sensual way. After reading the lyrics and the “scripture references”, I can’t for the life of me attempt an explanation for the title of the song “Heart Like Heaven”… it simply makes no sense within the lyric. Your eisegesis is as good as mine on the meaning of this phrase… and that’s not a good thing.

Another thing that upsets me is that considering how little is actually said in this song… this song drones on for over 6 minutes. Drop the seance mood-music and sing actual Praises to a Living and Gracious God, or sing songs that teach sound doctrine for the building up of the saints in the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints!

Conclusion

This song shouldn’t be sung/performed in corporate worship. I still can’t believe the scripture references provided. Completely derailed any attempt I might have had at trying to salvage a portion of this song. It’s unsalvageable, dump it. Corporate worship isn’t about sensuality, it’s about building up the body of Christ in the faith through hearing (speaking, singing, preaching) the Word of God.

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,
Jorge

12 thoughts on “DiM | “Heart Like Heaven” by Hillsong United

  1. Wow. I literally gasped out loud when I read the Isaiah reference. What on earth are these people thinking?? But then again, I guess they aren’t thinking. At all. And neither is anybody else in the CCM industry, apparently. What a mess. 😦

      • I hope you are right about that Isaiah reference. I don’t see any of Psalm 51 in the lyric of this song; however, if you have Psalm 51 in your mind and treat this song as a descripture of your emotions during confession/repentance and absolution, then I can see that as a useful corrective filter to the song. There are good songs actually written based on Psalm 51, and I’d recommend a congregation replace this one with one of those.

      • Psalm 51, namely v 16-17 –

        You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
        you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
        My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
        a broken and contrite heart
        you, God, will not despise.

        “If you sought perfection, I’d die trying to reach it – but this broken heart is all you want”.

      • “but this broken heart is all you want” is only part of the story there. David is repenting. This is a penitential Psalm. We fall short of perfection because we are imperfect. Christ stepped in on our behalf to live the perfect life and then pay the ultimate price for our forgiveness. The OT sacrifices were a pale shadow pointing to what Christ does for us.

        The Psalm (and in conjunction with the Biblical account in 2 Samuel 12:1-23) clearly displays confession and absolution.

        By floating the line “if you sought perfection, I’d die trying to reach it – but this broken heart is all you want” without the context of repentance or confession, it actually serves to minimize the Law, to minimize the problem of sin, and suggests that God is after an emotion, when He isn’t.

  2. These articles make me so sad. Do you really think that the heart of God looks upon these songs, shakes his head and says “no no, this song doesn’t glorify me”. Do you personally know Joel or Matt, so much so that you are able to judge their hearts behind writing this song?

    You neglected to highlight the Psalm this song is mainly referencing – Psalm 51, namely v 16-17 –

    You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
    My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

    “If you sought perfection, I’d die trying to reach it – but this broken heart is all you want”.

    I understand you’re very well informed and know your theology, but you’re so quick to judge the hearts of people you don’t know. I’m glad that God is the only one who can truly know and judge these songs. I believe he loves to see his children write songs, and while they may not be perfect, they’re from a heart with a desire to know God, and to praise him.

    With regards to “hear my soul cry out”… from my own experiences I can say that there are times I have cried out to God in a way that I can’t explain – a deep longing for him to hear me… it’s hard to put into words but one way to say it would be I feel my soul is crying for Him. Romans 8:28 says in our weakness the spirit prays on our behalf… could this too be a soul cry?

    I appreciate the time you’ve taken to write this, but take a look at some of the Psalms – the large majority of them would be “dumped” from corporate worship based on your criteria.

    Blessings,
    Stephen

    • We evaluate the lyric in the song, not the “hearts behind the writing”. Often when folks defend these songs with their vague lyrics, they appeal to the artists having hearts after God… is that not also judging the hearts of men?

      We look to the lyric, and when the lyric is mystically vague, we call it out. We correct as best we can with soung theology taken directly from Scripture.

      I’m not going to argue against what you feel experientially, I’m simply going to point to Scripture. Regarding Romans 8:27-28, the Spirit interceding for us isn’t necessarily an emotional feeling, but an objective Promise of Scripture, one we hold onto by faith, not feeling. That’s a good thing, because sometimes our feelings fail us, but His Word never does.

      I do read through the Psalms. They are Scripture. This song doesn’t come close to any of the Psalms. This song lacks theological clarity, and as such it makes for a very poor song for corporate worship.

      • I’ll point to scripture too, namely Ps 84:2 – do you believe the “soul’s yearning” is empty words? Does the psalmist know how to cause their soul to “yearn, even faint” in their earthly body? Or how to make their heart and flesh cry out?

        Whilst I clearly agree with you that the aim of worship should be, as you say, “about building up the body of Christ in the faith through hearing (speaking, singing, preaching) the Word of God.” However, the Word of God is Christ, not the bible. Jesus wasn’t the bible made flesh. He was Christ made flesh. (John 1:1 doesn’t mean “in the beginning there was the bible”.)

        So my belief is that if we are singing about Christ, glorifying him and building each other up through spkeaking, singing and preaching about Him, then we are truly worshipping. I don’t neccesarily believe that every line of every song we sing in corporate worship has to adhere to a specific scripture. We’re instructed to “sing unto the Lord a new song”… to have new expressions of our love for him.

        I have lots of time for hymns based on scripture, and have had deeply transforming moments in the presence of Christ through them. But I have also enjoyed praising my saviour through modern corporate worship, such as “Heart like heaven”.

        Bless you! I enjoy these discussions, apologies if I come across as argumentitive, it’s not my aim.

      • There is a problem of taking similar words and assiging the same meaning. In Ps 84 David is talking about how his soul, heart of flesh, longs for and yearns for the courts of the LORD. This is the build up of the Psalm. His heart and flesh sing for joy to the Living God. What follows in the Psalm are actual praises and thanksgiving being sung to the Living God. There is meat in the praises, not vagueries. Finding a similar sounding soundbite in a Psalm doesn’t make its use by Hillsong here clear.

        Drawing a distinction between the scriptures and Christ is to paint a false dichotomy. The Scriptures were breathed-out by God (2 Tim 3:16). There is more to Christ than has been revealed in Scripture (John 21:25), sure, but what we have in Scripture is sufficient for making the man of God complete, equipped for every good work.

        Hillsong music delivers emotional experiences, but it obscures Christ in vague aristry and heavy mysticism.

  3. Sorry, also;

    ” Telling God to “own the sound” of us singing holy… what does that nonsense even mean?”

    Own this sound forever, heart and heaven together, singing Holy is Your name”.

    We sing from our hearts of God’s holiness, as does heaven. We want the sound made from this worship to only belong to God… simple enough no?

    • You had to add a lot of narrative to the lyric to make that point, and still it isn’t clear, since God already owns all of creation. The explanation isn’t pointing to the Greatness of God, but an appeal to the value of “our sounds”. This isn’t solid theology, it’s emotional artistry.

  4. A 999th comment from me… I will agree with you on the chorus. I raised it with my leaders as I was unsure what “heart like heaven” meant other than just sounding cool for a chorus…

    I found the verses and bridge to be fine personally, but yes the chorus confuses me.

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