DiM | “Old Church Choir” by Zach Williams

disapproveCCM Edition.

July 25, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Old Church Choir” by Zach Williams which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song is a nostalgia bomb of Revivalism lacking substance and misusing the term “gospel”. This won’t be a long review, as I could find very little to salvage in it. I am surprised that this is charting so high this week, though. Let’s give the song a listen and then read through its lyric. I’ll be posting a link at the end to discuss Revivalism of the 1700s, so do please check it out.

ZachWilliamsVEVO (Official Lyric Video)

Lyrics

There’s revival and it’s spreading
Like a wildfire in my heart
A Sunday morning hallelujah
And it’s lasting all week long

Can you hear it? Can you feel it?
It’s the rhythm of a gospel song
Once you choose it, you can’t lose it
There ain’t nothing
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

When the valleys that I wander
Turn to mountains that I can’t climb
You are with me, you never leave me

There ain’t nothing
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

Clap your hands and stomp your feet
Till you find that gospel beat
Cause He’s all you’ll ever need
He’s all you’ll ever need
I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

Lyric Video by Zach Williams performing Old Church Choir (Official Lyric Video). (C) 2017 Provident Label Group LLC, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Discussion

This is an anthem for Revivalism, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole week-long tent meeting model of revivalism where Finney left his mark. Decision theology. Emotionalism. There’s not really a lot we can work with here by way of “best construction”. Let’s work through the verses briefly and then we’ll look at the problems with the Revivalist movement of the 1700s.

Verse 1. A “revival” spreading like wildfire in the heart, a rhythm of a gospel song, that one must choose. No mention of faith. Faith isn’t an emotion. It isn’t a feeling. It isn’t a rhythm of a song. It’s not clear if this is even going to try to distinguish between “revival” as in people returning to God or folks “getting saved”. It’s just a “gospel pep-rally” thing.

Chorus. An old church choir singing in my soul. How Old? What is it singing? I ask this because the revivalism movement is rather new in the history of the Church, 18th~19th Century. In our old church, we sing older hymns, some that date back to the 4th Century. But this song isn’t really drawing on antiquity or orthodoxy, it’s a nostalgia piece for the old “sawdust trail” of the late 1800s.

Verse 2. In this section we get a “you” reference we want to connect to Christ. Unfortunately, the emphasis of the song is revivalism, not specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the word “gospel” is used, it’s referring to a type of music that accompanied many a tent-revival meeting.

Verse 3/Outro. In this section of the song, the “call to action” portion isn’t a call to the Gospel. I think this falls short of even revivalist synergism, in that it doesn’t even ask the listener to make a decision for Christ but it’s aiming for the listener to “find that gospel beat”, supposedly to get that old gospel choir singing in your soul.

The song is a mess, I’m thoroughly frustrated with it. Listen, we examine music here often. But what we focus on here is the content of the lyric, above all else. Whether you like bluegrass, polka, hand bells, rock & roll, or Gregorian chant is really a matter of Christian liberty. Scripture doesn’t speak for or against any particular style of music. It’s about the doctrine that is being taught.

So, before we close out let’s look at what the Apostle Paul urged his readers concerning the Gospel.

Romans 10:1-17 (ESV) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 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.

The focus is on the Preaching of God’s Word. Paul encourages Timothy to do just that.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

There is no sense in looking for or promoting waves of revival movements. The Church isn’t a movement, it isn’t a fad, it isn’t a campaign, or a circus. The Church is the Body of Christ, and gathers around the Preaching of God’s Word. Revivalism is a circus act, a man-made attempt to make God popular. In our modern-day context, instead of looking like Barnum and Bailey big tents, it looks like an NFL production ala Joel Osteen or anything Hillsong. Now, I’ll concede that there are some revivalists who actually do preach the Gospel to some extent. Folks are finding saving faith in spite of the revivalism because God the Holy Spirit does what He says He does, granting saving faith by hearing of the Word. This is in spite of Revivalism, not a result of it.

For more information on the history of Christianity in America: Rationalism and Revivalism of the 1700s.

Conclusion

This song earns a Disapproval. There’s nothing here but a promotion of Revivalism. The word “gospel” is pointing to a style of song or tent meeting, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) 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, 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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