31 July 2015

Music Day - Central Theme

I don't mind music with lyrics that praise God. Really, I don't. What I can't stand is music that tells you, very explicitly, that they're worshipping God. (If, by 'worship,' you mean 'repeating the same two phrases over and over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseam.') (What was that Jesus said about those who pray with vain repetitions? Oh right... "do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them." -- Matthew chapter six.)

No, I like music with intelligent praise lyrics. I'm not generally a science nerd, but when it comes to worshipping God, science is probably one of the best things to look to if you want to stand in awe. I mean, God created some seriously cool stuff (the spectrum of light and colour and sound alone is freaking cool).

However, Christians have by and large decided that science doesn't exist. Their loss. Now they've reduced themselves to repeating the same two lyrics over and over and over and... so on, ad nauseum. And since Christians have also decided, by and large, that art in almost all forms also doesn't exist (or is pure evil), they also don't have the creativity or the language skills to even come up with anything more creative than the same two lines (and three chords).

Good praise music, with actual intellectual meaning behind it, is almost impossible to come by -- simply because it almost doesn't exist. I could count on one hand the praise songs (that I know of) that fall into the 'not-insipid' category. One such song comes to us from -- who else? -- Daniel Amos.

Not only is it different from everybody in today's praise-and-worship music machine (I won't mention Chris Tomlin or Hillsong by name), lyrically it captures part of the sheer majesty and size of God by comparing it to space (as in starts-and-planets space, not empty space). It's an infinitesimally small part in real life, but it's a lot bigger than most of us think about on a regular basis. Plus, the syncopated guitar picking in the chorus (Jesus in the centre / Revolving around Him...) is absolutely wonderful.

Title: Central Theme
Artist: Daniel Amos
Album: ¡Alarma!
Year: 1981
Label: Stunt Records
iTunes here; YouTube here; full album available from the band's website here (scroll down just a little bit).
Lyrics here.

More Daniel Amos lore: This song is the kickoff point (the prelude, really) for DA's four-album series collectively entitled The ¡Alarma! Chronicles, a huge artistic undertaking that saw the band move from new wave to rock to synthpop to ethereal keyboard arrangements. Although the Chronicles covered (broadly) apathy, deception, technology, and death, they begin and end with God -- the central theme and the beautiful one.

Solar screams
(I am nothing)
Vibrations under the rings
How great You are
Moon like a gong
(I am nothing)
Deep hollow song
How great You are...

No comments: