In the world of worship there are many people who are capable of learning to play a song that they’ve heard. In our information rich culture today, whenever anyone hears a new song they can quickly and easily search for the chords online and learn how to play it exactly the way it was arranged. Whether it’s an entire song, a guitar solo or a drumbeat we’ve become a society of “copyists”, as Bob puts it.
What often happens is that a worship artist releases a new song to the public and within 24 hours it’s being sung in every church across the nation. If you go onto Youtube and type in a song that you like you will inevitably discover a long list of “cover songs” performed by others. They may be slightly different from the original but they’re still a copy. That’s the difference between an artist and a copyist: an artist creates.
It’s similar to someone painting Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” There may be someone who has learned to paint brilliantly Van Gogh’s paintings with superb accuracy but they’re still not original. If that person wants to sell their copy it won’t sell for as much money as the original. The original will always be more valuable than the copy.
Now copying isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not as creative. It takes time and thought to create something new and fresh. But it can be a beautiful process of discovering who God has made us to be. When we create our own songs they have a higher value and meaning. They come from the core of who we are, from our struggles and successes. These songs come forth from the fiery trials of life and from the depths of our soul.
Most of us are singing other people’s songs instead of our own. Although others’ songs can bring us freedom I believe that God wants us to look inside of our souls to find the songs He has reserved for us to write. Whether we speak or sing, our own voices have more impact and power on us than others’ do. Likewise our very own songs are more powerful to us because they’re personal to our experiences.
God knows we’re forgetful and because of this He wants us to look back and remember the places He has redeemed us from. When we look at our lives and recall how Jesus has set us free it reminds us of God’s goodness and we are compelled to rejoice in Him with thanksgiving and song. He loves us and wants to give us something to sing about.
Overall, when we lead worship services I think it is significant to sing others’ songs that have brought us healing in our lives. However I think it’s even more powerful to sing our own songs because they are our own personal testimony of the goodness of Christ. And that’s how we overcome: by the blood of the Lamb and the “song” of our testimony.