DiM | “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society

Evangelical Worship Edition.

July 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society which currently sits at #20 on 20theCountdownMagazine.

Though this song is on the top 20 CCM list, it was very clearly written for corporate worship, so we’ll treat it as such and address its use over the radio. I heard it on the local CCM radio station a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a bit seeker-worshipy. I really didn’t expect it to break the top 20, but I was wrong. Is the song bad? Well, there isn’t anything bad in the lyrics. But the song isn’t particularly aimed at teaching or enforcing doctrine or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor does it specify the “You” or the “Lord” to whom the song is being sung. While the lyric is generic, it’s how the song is put together and performed that bothers me the most… it’s not aimed at worship, but at stirring up emotion. Emotion != worship.

 

One Sonic Society VEVO

 

Lyrics (via Essential Worship)

VERSE 1
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

PRECHORUS
Great are You, Lord

CHORUS
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

VERSE 2
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

BRIDGE
All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Chords and lyrics provided by EssentialWorship.com

Discussion

Verse 1+2. There is nothing distinctly Christian in this message. Sure, there are some general truths about God being alluded to, but try as I might I cannot think of any false religion that couldn’t make the same claims for their false gods. Buddhism perhaps, since there is no central or chief deity in that odd system. Point being, if we are going to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords in song, we can do much better than this vague stanza. To give this verse its best construction, I’d have to say that the author(s) attempted to identify the “You” of the song by covering several attributes of God. What ends up happening, though, is each attribute is glossed over thinly. The focus of the first verse is in the “restoring of the broken heart”. That’s the goal, that’s the punchline, that’s the focus. The aim of this song isn’t Worship, it’s creating an emotional experience of feeling like your broken heart is being mended.

Pre Chorus. This refrain is oddly set apart from the rest of the lyric. I wonder why it was set apart from the verses and chorus. Probably to allow plenty of instrumental build in the song, or endless repeats to give the impression that the Holy Spirit is leading the band. Again, the lyric isn’t bad, it’s how it’s being used that bothers me.

Chorus. Okay, so God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils when He created man. That same breath is what grants us life today. But we also are born into Adam’s death. There’s no mention of that truth in this song, not in any way. The closest we come to acknowledging our sin is the mention of our broken hearts. Though not necessarily an essential element of every corporate worship song (though I see no reason to avoid it) I do think it is vital in a CCM song purportedly intended to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s how CCM identifies itself as a ministry. That’s half the chorus, by the way. The other half indicates that since it’s God’s breath in our lungs (life) we pour out our praise to Him. Again, no mention of sin or regeneration or faith. The unbelievers have breath of life in their lungs, but are dead, spiritually and cannot offer praises to God. They cannot worship Him. If we alegorize the breath of life to mean the regeneration that comes by Grace through Faith in Christ, then why not point to our forgiveness as the motivation for praise? I fear it is because forgiveness is by faith alone, and not an emotion, the lyric would rather focus on the senses. Breathing, repetitive singing, focusing on “healing our broken hearts”, and then giving it a spritual context works very well at creating that warm and fuzzy feeling that seeker-sensitive mysticism aims for and calls “worship”. This chorus also focuses completely on the singer.

Bridge. Overall, this is truish but vague. It’s meant to serve as a climax to the emotional frenzy of the song. When will the earth shout His praise? On the Last Day? In Eternity? Not sure what the reference is here. Up until now, the singer has been pouring out his praise to the Lord because God’s breath was in his lungs. Not sure what is being referenced in this line. Our hearts will cry and these bones will sing. The emotional connection to the heart has been the focus of this song all along, but the addition of bones singing is interesting. In modern-day evangelicalism we see a lot of references to the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). They eisegete themselves or their local church body into the prophecy as the dry bones that need “revival”. Nevermind verse 11, where God makes clear the interpretation of the dry bones:

Ezekiel 37:11 (ESV) Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’

Context. It can be a major buzzkill sometimes. That’s not to say that it doesn’t point us to something, because it does. It points us the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all born dead in sins and tresspasses, cut off, without hope, without faith, condemend.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The prophesying that Ezekiel does to the bones and to the breath points to the preaching of the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to Save.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Indeed, by Grace through Faith in the preached Word of Christ we are saved out of the kingdom of darkness and granted the Hope of Salvation in Jesus Christ our LORD.

Romans 1:16 (ESV)For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

So, I know I went on a bit of a side track there, but I wanted to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ the clear focal point of the Scriptures.

Conclusion

This song is ill-suited for CCM Radio play. I wouldn’t recommend it at all for such use. As for this song being appropriate in corporate worship? There is nothing blatantly wrong in the lyric, but there is also no clear, Biblical objective of the song either. Emotional revivalism is pointless manipulation of the masses. The song doesn’t serve any purpose within a church service, it doesn’t teach or reinforce sound doctrine. Now there are many who will read this who truly believe that the point of worship is to feel emotionally moved toward God. That is not how the Bible defines worship. This song was written to evoke emotion, not worship. I’m sure many folks will like the song, and consider it helpful in “getting them into an attitude of worship”, but those are not Biblical arguments, they are fleshly.

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.

2 thoughts on “DiM | “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society

  1. what would you say if the biblical definition of worship? This is another reference where I have to disagree with your conclusions that there have to be a biblical objective for a song to be worthy. David in the Psalms (the ultimate songwriter for the Lord) had many songs that were simply an outpouring of his heart.

    Marty Nystrom when he penned the music for “As the Deer” he used scripture but there is technically no Biblical objective in the song.

    I feel as if you are looking for a complete and boxed Gospel message preached in every song. That is NOT how songs of worship have occurred in scripture and even since. There are songs of praise, songs of repentance, songs of adoration, songs of intercession, songs of lamentation…..they don’t all need to have a complete story of the Gospel to be biblically-faithful.

  2. Okay, so there doesn’t seem to be a substantive problem with this DiM work, just a general disagreement with its premise. Regarding the Psalms, I wonder which Psalm you have in mind, though I must remind you that the Psalms aren’t just songs, they are Scripture. David isn’t just setting an example for “good songwriting”, he and the other psalmists are writing Scripture breathed out by God. If you have a particular Psalm you’d like to discuss, I’d love to discuss it. As for what I’m looking for in “contemporary Christian music”, I’m looking for the Gospel in these songs. The purpose of these DiM reviews of songs (both CCM and Evangelical Worship) is to find the Gospel. If you look at the ones that made the “Approved” list, you’ll see that what we are looking for isn’t “a complete and boxed Gospel message”, though I am looking for clarity. When it comes to music written for corporate worship, I am looking for a clear theological or doctrinal teaching. That’s the purpose of worship music, to reinforce sound doctrine. When a song falls short of sound doctrine, one is left wondering if it serves any purpose beyond entertainment. I’m fully comfortable saying “I like this song” and “this song isn’t Christian” at the same time. I’m also equally prepared to say “I don’t like this song” and “this is a Christian song” at the same time, too. The point here is to examine the lyrics for their content and clarity of the Gospel. If it is unclear, then it falls short of evangelism, which is currently what CCM radio claims to be engaged in. If the lyrics don’t teach or reinforce sound doctrine, then it falls short of worship music in my view. But the primary point of these posts is to engage in the practice of comparing the lyrics to Scripture.

    As for my perspective on worship, I have written a blog on that point: https://faithfulstewardshipblog.com/2015/03/16/ctt-praise-worship-and-music/

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s