Recently I said on Twitter, ‘[The Starfield song] “Rediscover You” is good for radio and for individual adoration. It does not work for public worship. More to come on my blog.’ Liking this song myself, and knowing that it’s edified many people, including my dear friend Terrance, I was unaware until a short time ago that it was unsuitable for public worship. Nevertheless, having now come to this conclusion, I regret not recognizing the truth more quickly, and I feel compelled to explain my findings.
First I must state the nature of public worship and distinguish it from private worship. Public worship gives voice to the whole assembly gathered, lawfully expressing its common adoration of God Almighty. Its words must, therefore, say what’s true of all: the whole Christian assembly must be able to give the amen of assent. Idiosyncrasy lies outside the realm of public worship, and though each worshipper can have his own private devotions during public worship – he can sing additional songs in his heart, or he can pray his own prayers quietly, or he can make the sign of the Cross over himself – these private devotions must not be forced upon other worshippers as if they belong to public worship.
With this view of public worship in mind, I proceed to comment on the first words of ‘Rediscover You’:
I need to just admit
my faith is paper-thin:
I’m feeling so burned out
These words project an individual’s subjective state (specifically an emotion), not the reality that applies to all. To expect the whole assembly to sing them, then, is wrong. Though it be perfectly good for private devotions, the song’s unsuited for public worship.
My objection to singing this song as a hymn of the Church (i.e. liturgically) is based not on stylistic preference but on the reality that’s common to all. What matters isn’t whether anyone likes or dislikes ‘Rediscover You’, or any song: though actually liked by no one, the song could still be very suitable as a hymn for public worship. What really matters is whether it expresses what’s true for the assembly that sings it when gathered at common prayer.
For the reasons detailed above, I urge song leaders to avoid using ‘Rediscover You’, whatever its merits, for public worship. I also hope they’ll apply the same principle to all the songs they choose in the future for public worship.