I’ve recently discovered Sinead O’Connor’s Theology album lately which mostly consists of psalms, laments and other bits of the bible set to music. The difference between her songs and many modern day Xn songs is striking Her songs are much more likely to be a lament of someone suffering oppression than a pseudo love song. Take a listen to Aviad Cohen for a giggle and an idea of what this album is not.
The only thing that comes close to a "Jesus my boyfriend" song is "I don't know how to love him" and the point of that song is Jesus cant be loved like a man or boyfriend. The psalms and other parts of bible like song of songs and Job O’Connor sings from are not so much about the joy of knowing god but rather the pain of being human.
Samples of the lyrics include
"Out of the depths I cry to you oh lord
Don't let my cries for mercy be ignored”
“And he looks for justice but beholds oppression
And he hopes for equality but hears a cry
Jerusalem and Judah
This is God's reply
Sadness will come
To those who build house to house
And lay field to field 'til there's room
For none but you to dwell in the land
Oh in the land
And sadness will come
To those who call evil good
And good evil who present
Darkness as light
And light as darkness
Who present as sweetness
Only the things which are bitterness
For the vineyard of
The Lord of Hosts
Is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah his pleasant plant
Oh oh his pleasant plant
Oh that my eyes were a fountain of tears
That I might weep for my poor people
For every boot stamped with fierceness
For every cloak rolled in blood
Jerusalem and Judah
I'd cry if I could”
“Why did I not die at birth?
Expire as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me?
Or breasts to feed me?
Why was I not like babies
Who never saw the light?
Who lie with kings and counsellors
Who rebuild ruins for themselves”
When ever I think about Xn music and church music in particular I can’t help but think of an old theology lecturer who used to add the phrase "in between the sheets" after lyrics and song titles she would sing in church as a youngster. This is kind of fun to do next time your in church and singing…
How Great Thou art - in between the sheets
You are my King - in between the sheets
Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling - in between the sheets
My God is so big - in between the sheets
What A Friend we Have in Jesus - in between the sheets
I could sing of Your love forever- in between the sheets
The other distraction that floods my mind when I hear most Xn music is my favourite south park episode “Faith plus one” when Cartman forms a Xn rock band. Here are some of my favourite lines from that show.
CARTMAN Think about it! It's the easiest crappiest music in the world, right? If we just play songs about how much we love Jesus, all the Christians will buy our crap!
CARTMAN All right, guys, this is gonna be so easy. All we have to do to make Christian songs is take regular old songs and add Jesus stuff to them. See? All we have to do is cross out words like "baby" and "Darling" and replace them with Jesus. All right, Butters, give me a beat. Okay, nice. Very nice. All right, Token, give me a smooth bass line.
Don't ever leave me, Jesus.
I couldn't stand to see you go.
My heart would simply snap, my Lord, if you walked on out that door.
I promise I'll be good to you, and keep you warm at night.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, why don't we just... shut off the lights. I love you, Jesus.
I want you to walk with me [the fans sway back and forth] I'll take good care of you baby. Call you my baby, baby! You died for my sins, and you know that I would die for you, right? What's the matter, baby? You tremble at Jesus, baby! Your love... is my life! You know when I’m without you, there's a black hole in my life! Oo-ohhh! I wanna believe. It's all right, 'cause I get lonely in the night and it's up to you to
Save me! Jee...sus...bay-by!
EXECUTIVE 1 We just have one question, though. We were looking over some of your lyrics, uh... "I want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus on a private beach for two./I want him to nibble on my ear and say 'I'm here for you." Ih it seams you really love Christ.
CARTMAN Yes, we sure do.
EXECUTIVE 1 Well uh of course I do. I mean I just-
CARTMAN Well what's the difference?! You love Christ, you're in love with Christ, I mean, uh, what the heck is this??
EXECUTIVE 1 Eh no but ih it appears you are actually... in love with Christ.
CARTMAN Well what are you saying? That, that you don't really love Christ??
EXECUTIVE 1 Uh, we'd just like to make sure the bands we sign are in it for God, and not for the money.
CARTMAN I resent that, sir! I have never in my life done anything just for the money! If I'm lying may the Lord strike me down right now.
BUTTERS Uhm, oh.
EXECUTIVE 1 That's- all we needed to know. Just, sign here and we'll get your album sold.
So what to do? I’ve been toying with the idea of trying out some blues songs in a church service I love Blind Willie Johnson and many of the gospel and blues singers of the first half of the last centaury. I’d like to sing some of them along with Paul Gioia’s music and Dave Andrews' songs. Maybe I’d like to try this to see if it’s communal singing that I don’t like or if it’s just the songs that churches tend to communally sing. I'll let you know how it goes.
I'll end with some great covers of Xn albums.