95 million page views on YouTube. Last time I looked, I think it was only 92 million. Regardless, it is quite clear that the Hillsong United song “Oceans” is one of the most popular contemporary praise songs ever written. If you’re the leader of a praise band, and you think that worship should look and feel like a rock concert, you definitely should introduce “Oceans”. It’s hard to argue with 95 million page views. 96 million now?
ROCK BALLAD OR CONGREGATIONAL STANDARD?
However, for those of us who are committed to the New-Testament pattern for song worship, who look to Colossians 3:16 rather than to rock concerts for spiritual guidance, the question remains unanswered. Just because a song works when played by a praise band for a crowd of swaying evangelicals does not mean that it will work in an a-cappella congregation. To argue otherwise is to insist that Michael Jordan ought to be as good at baseball as he is at basketball. Two different sports have different demands, and so do two different modes of worship.
In particular, there are two characteristics of “Oceans” that we ought to consider before we import it into our worship services. The first is content. After all, content requirements for a rock ballad and a Colossians 3:16 hymn are very different. Rock music doesn’t have to make sense to be successful. It just has to generate feels. Hymns, on the other hand, have to teach and admonish. A good hymn is a sermon in song. Continue reading