Worship in the Modern World

Praising God with the Best of the Past and the Present

Bad Worship Songs

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.

4 thoughts on “Bad Worship Songs

  1. I’m thinking of leaving the church I’ve attended for 20 years because the worship music is so bad, for all the reasons you cite in your article. The music is well-played, but the songs and tunes are awful. I’ll miss the preaching of our excellent pastor, but mostly I feel sad and disappointed as we sing the same three or four choruses each week.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re thinking of leaving your church, especially after 20 years. However I hope that which ever church God leads you to is one that speaks to you and is a place where you can be challenged and fed in your walk with Christ. It’s situations like this that should remind churches of the importance of quality in our worship.

  3. How do you tell a worship leader/person who chooses music that songs meet the requirements for worship musi with “poor quality” without hurting his/her feelings?

    1. First, pray about it and try to see if the songs are bad or if you just don’t like them. Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions. Try to take your personal preferences out of the equation and see if it’s still a bad song.

      I would be really careful about it and realize that criticizing their song choices, no matter how tactfully it is approached, is not the best way to handle the situation. Artists are fragile creatures and have a tendency to wear their hearts on their sleeves. It’s also not uncommon for them to take something like that personally because we tend to put so much of ourselves into our art that it becomes an extension of ourselves. Realize that the person who picks the music probably gets a number of comments about the music. People tend to have strong opinions when it comes to music and if they’ve been at it for a while, it can be difficult to distinguish the genuine concerns from the chatter of personal taste in the congregation.

      Probably the best way would be to come from the opposite side and share some songs that you do like and what you like about them. Artists respond better to positive feedback than negative. Artists tend to thrive on encouragement (I’m not talking about stroking their ego) and perhaps with enough encouragement about the songs that you do like they will move away from the weaker songs.

      If you’d like you can email me about a specific situation and I’d be glad to see how I can help. Visit the Contact page above for the best way to reach me.

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