Over the years, there have been some really great worship songs written. Looking all the way back to the early years of the church, there are songs that were written hundreds of years ago that still work today.
But there are also ones that, well… they just stink. Most of the time, you don’t know that they’re bad songs – at least not right away. Everyone’s singing it, you hear it everywhere and you get caught up in the moment before you know what’s going on. Then one day you step back, engage your brain and suddenly think “my word, is that what I’ve been singing all this time?!”
Below is my list of bad worship songs. I’ll admit, many of them I’ve done before – I even liked it when we did them. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re just bad. While I think the evidence for them to be on this list is convincing, it is simply my opinion. If you happen to love one or more of these songs, that’s totally ok.
In no particular order: My personal list of Bad Worship Songs
- Come, Now is the Time to Worship: This is one of those songs that comes with it’s own instructions: “Put me first”. Where can you put this song except at the beginning? Also, it’s a grammatical nightmare. It’s full of pronouns, but there’s nothing to tell the casual observer to what the pronouns are referencing – and it’s different through the song! The first part is directed toward the worshipper (“now is the time to give your heart.”); the second is referring to God (“who gladly choose you now”). And don’t forget the way we have to half sing/half whisper “come” at the end.
- I Could Sing of Your Love Forever: I know there are people who absolutely love this song, but it just doesn’t work well. First, the chorus sounds like you’re trying to prove the lyrics (“I could sing of your love forever, I could sing of your love forever, I could…” you get the picture). And then there’s the bridge. The lyrics, “Oh, I feel like dancing”, should be happy, but the music makes me feel like crying. Let’s sing about dancing to music that makes me depressed. Let’s also not forget that there’s nearly two times too many words in the verse – it’s almost impossible to sing at a good tempo for the rest of the song!
- Trading My Sorrows: This is a classic. But who writes a chorus of just 2 words over and over and over (“yes, Lord! yes, Lord! Yes, yes, Lord…”).
- Half of David Crowder’s Songs: It’s a bit general, I know, but it bugs me when lyrics seem random and disconnected. While it’s one thing to just listen to the songs it’s another to sing them in worship.
- Shout to the North: Every time I hear this song, I feel like I need to get out my compass and turn North to properly sing this song. And why leave out South, East and West!?
- Most Rich Mullins Songs: Some folks in the worship community idolize this guy. He passed away in 1997 and has been releasing albums ever since. He’s the guy who gave us “Awesome God”, among others. While the chorus is good (Our God is an awesome God, he reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and love. Our God is an awesome God.) the verses are outright bizarre. “Oh when He rolls up his sleeves He ain’t just puttin‘ on the ritz…” Just shy of poetic.
- El Shaddai: This is another song with a cult following. While I’m sure there are some people who enjoying singing in Hebrew (Jews, perhaps), it doesn’t mean anything to the average Joe. “El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El Elyon na Adonai“… oy vey! How irrelevant and inaccessible can you be?
So what’s the point? At one point in time, most of these songs were considered to be cutting-edge, must sing songs for the modern church. Since then, they’ve fallen from grace. It’s not that they’re no good, they’re just not as fresh as we once thought.
This should serve as a reminder to worship leaders everywhere: periodically take a close look at your songs to make sure they still hit the mark. Not sure if they do? Put them on the shelf for a while, then come back to them in six months to a year and look with fresh eyes. Some songs will be around for a long time, while others have a shorter shelf life.