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I was just looking at the song ‘Anchor’ by Bethel Music. I was singing it through just to ‘try it out’, see how it felt and whether it was useable in church. I’ve heard it sung at a conference before. I remembered and knew I liked the tune. I had got the verse and was just singing through the chorus when… I was brought to a grinding halt.
“I’m holding onto hope, I’m holding onto grace,
I’m fully letting go, I’m…”
Am I holding on or fully letting go?
A case, maybe, of subtle Christian jargonism means that somehow this glaring diametric opposition of metaphors which is given no explanation or clarification has somehow gone unnoticed, and become very popular, having as it does over 1m views on YouTube and being used widely in the church. Yet I was brought to a grinding halt and I don’t think I could ever use this song. Not without liberally adjusting the lyrics which, well, that’s another debate. Oh, in many respects, it’s a good, strong song! But this…really?
What do you think, readers? Are those two diametrically-opposed metaphors too jarring, or can we allow it because ‘we all know what it means’? I guess the idea is that I’m holding onto what God says, what he gives etc. ie. hope and grace, and letting go of everything else in order to surrender to God’s ways (which handily almost-rhyme with ‘grace’). But putting myself in the shoes of a new or non-believer (always a good exercise), I’m confused! Am I holding on or letting go? Wouldn’t it be better songwriting either to really clarify the difference by explaining what is being let go of in order to hold onto God’s grace etc., or just to focus on the one metaphor of holding on?
Perhaps it would be more powerful to do the latter and still to use the language of surrender, because there is a kind of surrender in choosing one way only, no going back, following hard after God and clinging onto him with no other options. “I’m never letting go, I’m surrendered to your ways.” Hmm. Or something.
What do you think?
3 thoughts on “Quick post: Clumsy Worship Lyrics”
This is a great question. I’ve used this song a few times in church and had not noticed the line but you make a great point.
I think that part of the issue is that we have become so used to Christianese that we don’t even notice it anymore.
This is the reason that I like to show my son’s to non musical people before I use them. If they just have a page of lyrics to read they tend to pick up on little things like that without being distracted by the music.
I don’t always get it right though!
The other song that does something similar is “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective. “my Lighthouse, my Lighthouse, shining in the darkness I will follow you safe to shore…” I’m fairly certain that lighthouses warn you to stay away from shore, hence following them will do the exact opposite to what the song says… 😉
Thanks Alex! And I had already been aware of this chorus for a while before suddenly being jarred by the mixture (well, complete opposition!) of metaphors yesterday. Somehow these things slip through the net!