Question:

I read your review of Jeffcoat's song book and have some questions about certain songs in general.
What are your thoughts on the following songs:

  • My God and I
  • Jesus hold my hand
  • I come to the garden
  • There's a royal banner (vs. 3 from Praise for the Lord).

These are songs I struggle with. The first three seems that the songs are bringing Deity down to man's level. Also, what are your thoughts in songs that address Jesus in prayer? The other song, "There's a royal banner" is much different in vs. 3 than the rest of the song books that I have and it seems to be addressing premillennialism? But, I could be wrong. Finally, I would be interested to know of any other songs that you may believe to be unscriptural that I can take under advisement and study. Thank you so much for your time.


Answer:

Since the writers of songs are not inspired, it is possible for the songs that we sing to contain errors, which we should always be on guard against. Still, we need to recognize that writing songs is difficult because of the restrictions of rhythm and rhyme needed for a good song. Some people decide that if a song can be understood incorrectly, then it should not be song. By such a standard we would have to throw out all our songs because "The entirety of Your word is truth" (Psalm 119:160). No song can reflect the entirety of the Bible, thus no song is "truth." A song can reflect a portion of the truth, but not the whole of truth. If you are looking for a flaw, you will always find one in a song.

What we need to do is see if a song can be understood in a way that accurately reflects the teachings in the Scriptures. If it cannot be understood in a way that matches the teachings of the Scriptures, then it ought not to be used.

The song "I Come to the Garden Alone" by the author's own statements was supposed to be about prayer. As a song about prayer it is wrong because it says, "And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses." The problem is that prayer is man's communication with God. The Bible does not state answers prayers directly. However, if we see the garden as God's Word and our study of it, then the expressions in the song are accurate. We learn from God and He speaks to us through His teachings. Because of past objections, I often will make mention of this before leading this song.

"My God and I" is of a similar nature. It is describing the concept of abiding, using the imagery of man and God being together in the Garden of Eden. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). Again, we have to understand that the communication from God comes through His word and not directly to our ears or thoughts.

If expressing prayer to Jesus is wrong, then Stephen's prayer was wrong. "And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"" (Acts 7:59). The song expresses the desire to have Jesus close by in life, a sentiment Jesus talked of when he said, "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, "Jesus, Hold My Hand" can be understood in a scriptural way.

Concerning "There's a Royal Banner," the third verse says: "When the glory dawns -- 'tis drawing very near, It is hastening day by day -- Then before our King the foe shall disappear, And the cross the world shall sway." The song appears to be talking about Judgment Day, a day when Christ's glory does appear to all the world (Colossians 3:4). That day is not necessarily near, but we understand that with each passing day it draws closer. "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:8). "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

When Christ does come, his enemies will be sent off to hell. Jesus explained the parable of the wheat and the tares thus, "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age" (Matthew 13:38-40).

Perhaps the author did believe in premillennialism when he wrote "And the cross the world shall sway." But world can be understood as the people of the world (John 3:16) and not the physical earth, which will be destroyed at Christ's coming (II Peter 3:10-12). Among the world that is left, the cross does hold sway, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18). Or you can see the song as saying that until Christ comes, the cross will continue to persuade the people of the world. "And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20).

One song that I have not been able to find an adequate scriptural view is "Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?" I cannot find any support for those reaching heaven to find some with starry crowns and others without.