In the Silence of the Mind: December 6, 2013
Love Songs to God
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been examining songs that fit into certain playlists I’ve been creating in motion for years. I started by examining some anthems that help remind us of the power that has already conquered the grave (in honor of Living Sacrifice’s Ghost Thief), and later moved into an examination of songs that have always helped bring me to a state of positive, passionate, praise-filled power in the Spirit. This week, in honor of the Advent season and also in celebration of Everything in Slow Motion’s Phoenix and My Epic’s Behold, I thought it would be fitting to examine some modern love songs to the Creator.
First of all, though many “worship” songs fit the idea behind this playlist, this is not about worship for the sake of selling a worship record. The songs represented on this list are ones where the artist has dug down deep into his/her soul and out of the overflowing love for Christ within written a love sonnet to the One who created our very hearts. I understand that that is what worship is supposed to be about in the first place… but, I have limited the listing to albums that are not specifically “worship” in genre. If the words were changed… or in some cases if the intent was less clear, but the words were left the same, these would be songs that merely focused on our broken romantic love. Yet, these songs focus their energy and, thereby, the listener’s heart back to God with passionate abandon that is typically shared only between two lovers in intimate embrace. But, this isn’t dirty. It is the most pure and passionate love there is.
This week, we look at some amazing love songs to God.
The Artist: LifeHouse
The Song: “Everything”
From The Album: No Name Face, Smallville: Original Soundtrack
Long before Jason Wade and company started actually writing endless songs about the opposite sex, and long before Clark Kent and Lana Lang had their first dance to the song “Everything,” rumor has it that Lifehouse wrote their songs about God. Listening to No Name Face this becomes apparent. While the songs could certainly be used for human relationships, knowing that “Breathing” and “Everything” are to God amplify them exponentially.
There is simply no way to honestly sing “Everything” to God without getting absolutely swept away by God’s all-consuming love.
The Artist: Dogwood
The Song: “Do or Die”
From the Album: Matt Aragon
From the moment the first words hit, you know that you’re going to cry. “I killed the Son of God today. I built the cross where He was slain. My sins the hand that held the hammer, that drove the nails through His skin.” Though an awkward choice for a “love” song, “Do or Die” is an amazing love song to God.
Seriously, go pull up a copy of this song and try to deny the love of God that starts to flow powerfully. I don’t know how to listen to this song without welling up.
The Artist: Spoken
The Song: “From the Inside”
From the Album: Last Chance to Breathe
Spoken has made an appearance on several of these lists, and will – spoilers – soon be revealed for my choice of album of the year with their masterpiece Illusion. With “From the Inside” Matt Baird and company paint a beautiful picture of surrender that moves from a quiet faith to a raucous admission of praise and surrender to the only love that can quiet our souls.
“Teach me how to love You, the way that You love me. I will wait for You. My life is in Your hands, my life is Yours. And I surrender all that I am. All my pride and anger. All of me. This heart is Yours.”
The Artist: Falling Up
The Song: “Falling in Love”
From the Album: Crashings
While, like “Everything” before it, “Falling in Love” could easily be co-opted to standard love song fare, it is when this song is sung to God that its true power is unleashed.
Echoing Jesus’s final promise that He will be “with us to the end of the age,” Falling Up reveal their hand by proclaiming over and over “always You are with me. All of my dreams and my passions are in Your hands… You are the love of my life.” Sure, you could sing this song to a spouse, fittingly so, but it is the direction and abandon to God that truly unleashes the power this song holds.
The Artist: Skillet
The Song: “The Thirst is Taking Over”
From the Album: Alien Youth
When it comes to songs that simply build in passion and intensity with each beat and measure, this is the poster child. From its opening stanza to the closing moments, John Cooper’s voice bleeds with a passion for God that is contagious. Though the production on this song has not aged as well, “The Thirst is Taking Over” is a love song to God from start to finish.
“You alone are what my soul needs. Hardly breathe, I’m in urgent need. You know the thirst is taking over.”
The Artist: Lil’ Dre
The Song: “Intimate”
From the Album: MACU Edition, Mixtape (unreleased)
On the one hand, including this song on the list is a bit unfair. Unless you happened to attend Mid-America Christian University around the time Lil’ Dre was just starting his career, there is little to no chance you’ve heard this song. However, that is a great tragedy. “Intimate” is one of the most powerful love songs to God I’ve ever heard.
From the outset Dre proclaims that he is writing a love song to God, and what a song it is. “The stage is set, let’s get intimate… most flesh want sex from intimacy, I want your Holy Spirit coming down and entering me… I’m not ashamed like other men, a necessity to me like oxygen… far from perfect so I’m trying to get closer.”
Be sure to hit up www.churchboy.com for more info on Lil’ Dre. And, perhaps drop him a line and beg him to release “Intimate” back into the wild on his next full length album. His last album got a 4/5 from us, so we’re eagerly anticipating more, and “Intimate” would make a perfect cap-stone on that, if you ask me.
*Note, since there was no cover art for MACU Edition, I put his first released mixtape in its place, which is another great album, by the way.
The Artist: Jars of Clay
The Song: “Love Song for A Savior”
From the Album: Jars of Clay
Admittedly, “Love Song for a Savior” is both a little obvious and not directly from the band to God (in terms of the song flow). Still, it is hard to deny how brilliantly the band has worked their love for the Savior into a tale of a girl who will “come running, fall in His arms, tears will fall down and we’ll pray, ‘I want to fall in love with You.'”
“Love Song for a Savior” is definitely a product of the ’90’s (just take a gander at that album cover!), but it is certainly a fantastic love song to God.
The Artist: Relient K
The Song: “I Celebrate the Day”
From the Album: Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand
While this is technically a Christmas song (one of the best modern Christmas songs ever written), “I Celebrate the Day” doubles, in my opinion, as a powerful love song to God. And, since the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be all about worshipping and returning the undeserved love of Christ, what better way than through a song that honors with loving prose the great sacrifice God made in giving His Son to the world. Truly, this is both “good news” and a love song in response to a great and loving God.
The Artist: Switchfoot
The Song: “Only Hope”
From the Album: New Way to Be Human
This is another song that made its way onto another of my lists, recently. However, this is where “Only Hope” truly belongs. Before it was co-opted by Mandy Moore for the movie A Walk to Remember (even if John Foreman appeared in a duet with her for the soundtrack), “Only Hope” was a pure and unabashed love song to God, Most High.
“I lay my head back down and pray to be only Yours, I pray to be only Yours, I know now You’re my only hope.”
The Artist: Showbread (feat. Reese Roper of Five Iron Frenzy)
The Song: “Matthaias Replaces Judas”
From the Album: No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical
Showbread are known for a lot of crazy things, but it was on their first widely released album that this powerful love song to God was released. Featuring Reese Roper of FIF, Showbread does a different kind of love song as they look at how we’ve betrayed God and how powerfully He loves us back.
“Do you find the love to offer he who betrays You, an offer to wash my feet as I offer to disobey You. Your beauty does bereave me, and how my words do fail. So faithfully and dutifully, I award You with betrayal… I lay in this field by Judas and anticipate the plow… Jesus, my heart is all I have to give to you. So weak and so unworthy, it simply will not do… for Your body that was broken, how can this be enough?… Your glory illuminates my life… You’ve loved me forever and Your love will never end.”
The Artist: Flyleaf
The Song: “All Around Me”
From the Album: Flyleaf
Before Lacey Sturm was sharing her story as a part of Billy Graham’s great message to America, she was crooning about her love for God on Flyleaf’s debut album. “All Around Me” is one of the most passionate love songs to God out there. From start to finish Lacey’s voice, the lyrics, and even the instrumentation itself is fully consumed with God’s love which is “all around me, thickening the air I’m breathing.”
Though Flyleaf has moved on to a new lead singer as Lacey has chosen to invest time in her growing family, it was passion like this that put them on the map, and we can only hope the new version of the band retains this passionate love for God going forward.
The Artist: Thousand Foot Krutch
The Song: “Lift It”
From the Album: Set It Off (and Set It Off: Remastered)
Thousand Foot Krutch has gone on to share their love for Jesus in powerful ways, but it was “Lift It” that first set that trend in place. Though I have put the cover from their original version of the album, it was the Tooth and Nail remastered version that truly speaks in the clearest way how God has been with us through all the troubled years.
“So, I lift it. I said I lift it up to You. Because I’ll never forget all the times that we’ve been through… and I surrender all of me… everything I’ll ever be… to You. To You, to You. I lift it up to You.”
The Artist: The Cross Movement
The Song: “Lord, You Are”
From the Album: Higher Definition
As I mentioned in my “Anthems to Overcome the Grave” post, the modern rap kings in the 116 clique (Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, etc) all rose out of the Cross Movement camp. Ever concerned with proper lyrical theology, all four then-current members came together to share a love song to God with the world.
“We can’t help but adore You… My God, You’re awesome, majestic… Lord, You are… Every time I think of You, when I think about the things you do, it’s not too far to see it’s not what You do, but it’s who You are. Good, holy, pure… Lord, You are…”
The Artist: dc Talk
The Song: “You Consume Me”
From the Album: Supernatural
In their final great album before going “solo” Kevin Max (Audio Adrenaline), Michael Tait (The Newsboys), and Toby Mac (…tobyMac…) expressed their love for God an how He simply “consumes me.”
Though dcT had plenty of other songs that referenced their love and passion for God, it was this “burning flame running through my veins” that truly expressed their deep and abiding love for God. Now… if only we could get Audio A, the Newsboys, and tobyMac to tour together and…
The Artist: The O. C. Supertones
The Song: “So Great a Salvation”
From the Album: Supertones Strike Back
While “So Great a Salvation” is merely a capstone on top of an already worshipful album, it is this scaled back and intimate expression of Mojo to God that really captured me back in my teens. With nothing but a guitar and a question (“why me, God? Why should you choose me?”), the Supertones were able to speak volumes about their love for God.
It was the raw and uncut feeling of the song that always appealed to me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sing this to God once in a while, terrible singing voice and all.
The Artist: Blindside
The Song: “Silence”
From the Album: Silence
Silence was Blindside’s breakout album for a reason. While appearing on talk shows and movies (Grind) alike for their song “Pitiful,” it was the final song, “Silence” that spoke the loudest.
“I believe in silence, our hearts speak the same words. So I think I’ll walk along the shoreline with our silent song. Because I believe in silence, our hearts speak the same words.” Blindside has used the “silence” theme constantly throughout their albums, but it was here that we discovered that “silence” was their way of saying, “I love you” to God.
The Artist: Blindside
The Song: “My Alibi”
From the Album: The Great Depression
I know, I know… no fair using Blindside twice… but, if there were ever a band to so passionately capture their love for God across multiple genre-defining releases, it is Blindside. With “My Alibi” Christian poetically pictures his love relationship with God as a dance floor where at the end of eternity. As he questions whether or not he’s lived his life well, the answer comes back:
“When all is said and done, when all is gone and still just begun, I will be asked what I did with my time and why You are my alibi, because I know, I know, I spent my time dancing with You.”
The Artist: The Benjamin Gate
The Song: “Your Kisses Blind Me”
From the Album: Contact
If there was ever a reason to be angry with Jeremy Camp, it would be his role in breaking up the Benjamin Gate (by marrying the lead singer). The Benjamin Gate was one of the great female alt-rock bands of the ’90’s, and they were unafraid to share their love with God.
“Your Kisses Blind Me,” as the apt title shows, talks of God’s kisses blinding the band with their intensity.
The Artist: .rod laver
The Song: “Cry”
From the Album: Essence of the Game
.rod laver, as I mentioned in another feature, was a band that was gone too soon. Having just really hit their stride and finding a home with Tooth and Nail, .rod laver’s career ended just as it was set to explode.
With their first release on Screaming Giant records, the boys showed just how unafraid they were to get mushy with their love for God, and the effect was powerful.
“El Shaddai, El Shaddai, the God on High, when I think about Your love it makes me want to cry.”
The Artist: Kutless
The Song: “Passion”
From the Album: Sea of Faces
While “Passion” fits as much with The Passion of the Christ as anything, it’s hard to deny the powerful love song to God this song is. Though it goes through and lists the “nail scarred hands… brow broken by the thorns” and other afflictions of the crucifixion… “but it’s beautiful to me.”
Kutless really set themselves apart to me with this song, and it is still one that, like Dogwood’s “Do or Die,” bring me to tears in just the right way.
The Artist: Disciple
The Song(s): “Thousand Things”
From the Album(s): By God
Disciple has so many songs that are passionate love songs to God. Certainly “No End at All” fits the bill as much as any… and I almost listed it alongside this one as I chose to do for Blindside, above. However, it is “Thousand Things” that truly expresses Kevin and company’s love for God most passionately.
Taken from Revelation 4, where the thousand eyed angels see new aspects of God constantly and worship Him, “Thousand Things” proclaims “if you showed me a thousand things, brand new about You every day, I still could never see the fullness of Your glory.”
Other Notable Songs: In the interest of not splitting this into multiple posts (as I’ve chosen to do with past playlists), and since I will be dropping a free chapter of my book Here’s How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship on here for free next week, this is where I’ll end. However, this is not the end of the playlist. Love songs to God are, and should always be, continually being produced. Here are a few more I didn’t have time to expand upon, for example:
38th Parallel – “State of Mind” – Turn the Tides
The Showdown – “Laid to Rest” – A Chorus of Obliteration
The Newsboys – “It is You” – Thrive
Audio Adrenaline – “Until My Heart Caves In” – Until My Heart Caves In
The Ambassador – “I Love You Jesus” – Christology in Layman’s Terms
KJ-52 – “So In Love With You” – It’s Pronounced Five-Two
Superchick – “I Belong To You” – Last One Picked
So, what do you think? Did I miss any that simply must be added to this list? Talk about them in the comments section. And, though I know “traditional” Christmas music (like Project 86 or August Burns Red’s Christmas albums) are more fitting to the season, there’s never a bad time to sing, write, or play a love song to the God who created our ability to love Him back and purchased that right back from the debt of sin. So, why not take a day and spend some time in worship with these songs setting the stage.
Until next week. Like the articles? Be sure to share them on social media and/or leave a comment. I put a lot of time into these (when I have very little to spare), so be sure to share the love!