My Least Favorite Caedmon’s Call Song

Caedmon's Call

I absolutely love Caedmon’s Call. These guys are my jam! They are incredibly deep, and have (in my opinion) perfected the art of combining a folksy, “90’s alternative” music style with deep theological truth. Even the name and cover of the album in which we find the song I want to discuss is a sermon (series?) wrapped into a single image containing a leaf and a single word. overdressedIt’s worshipful to me to know that God has made us with that kind of creative capacity. If we are but a glimpse, or image, of God’s creative nature, and creation itself is a broken, dim reflection of the what’s coming, how can one not be anxious for the Kingdom of Heaven!?

But I digress. For the moment, among the dozens of Caedmon’s Call songs I think are flat-out amazing, I want to tackle a particular song which ranks as one of my least favorites.

First, take a listen…

Second, here are the lyrics…

We’ve all got our burdens, our secrets and our shames
We’ve all been discouraged and watched love fall in flames
And when we’ve hit the bottom of all we can bear
When we need you

You rise like the morning sun, a pillar in the night
Who looked into the void and called it light
And you’re faithfully providing for the trouble that we share
When we need you you’ve always been there

Blessed are the poor all around the world
Your children living under war and oppression
Cause you’re the man of sorrows, they whisper up their prayers
When they need you

You rise like the morning sun, a pillar in the night
Who looked into the void and called it light
And you’re faithfully providing for the trouble that we share
When we need you you’ve always been there

And how do we know in the dark of the night
To call out for you, Lord, to come with your light
We were born with you hidden on our hearts
And now we need you

You rise like the morning sun, a pillar in the night
Who looked into the void and called it light
And you’re faithfully providing for the trouble that we share
When we need you you’ve always been there
When we need you you’ve always been there

Always Been There, Caedmon’s Call, Overdressed

Third, let me ask you a question…

What’s wrong with this song?

In many ways, it’s a great song.

It’s catchy and fun. It’s got a great sound that gets caught in your head. It’s packed with true statements about God. In fact, pretty much every line is true.

We do have problems. We do get discouraged. When we need God, He is absolutely there for us. God does in fact especially support the poor and oppressed. Jesus was in fact the “man of sorrows”, and when we struggle and pray in a faint echo of his earthly struggle, God does in fact hear our prayer and respond. In the dark night of the soul, when we cry out, God does indeed answer.

The chorus is deep and clever and lyrical and true…

  • God indeed rises like the morning sun – every day, new mercies, great faithfulness, light in the darkness.
  • God is indeed a pillar of fire that guides us by night, as well as a pillar of cloud to guide us by day … if we have the eyes to see.
  • God did indeed look into the void and call forth light (representing all of creation). He still does that in our lives. Where there is darkness, God brings light by His word and His power.
  • God is indeed faithfully to provide for us in all our times, both good and bad. We all share a life of troubles in this broken world — none of us is exempt — and when we are hurting, God particularly draws near to us.

So, what’s the problem?

The fundamental message of the song is, “God, when we need you, you’ve always been there.”

While this is in a sense true, I find it a dangerous way to think. This statement is fundamentally reversed. It obviously wouldn’t fit into the lyric of the song, but if I were writing this line, it would read: “God, you have always existed independent of us, at the center of all things, and any need we experience, we experience in the context of your ongoing goodness, power, presence and love.” Or something like that. (You can see why I’m not a musician!)

But the point is that any legitimate, helpful, worshipful view of the universe has to start with God. He is the center, around which everything orbits. You and I are not. Maybe a few things in the solar system orbit around the planets, but surely no one would dispute that the sun is the center! Solar SystemThere’s just too much subtext in a song like this that could lead one (perhaps unconsciously) to view the world as a place where I go about my business, doing whatever I want, whenever I want, mostly experiencing that all is well … and then … BAM! … trouble. Something breaks. Someone gets sick. From out of nowhere, suffering rears its ugly head. From my default position of self-sufficiency and self-actualization and self-provision, I have unexpectedly encountered a problem that is too big for me! On no! What will I do?!

I know, I will turn to God! When I need Him, He’s always been there.

There’s way too much ME in this worldview. The truth is that we don’t live the autonomous, self-sufficient lives that most of us seem to believe we lead. You do whatever you do because God enables you to do it. All your skills, gifts, abilities, reason, health and strength come from Him. You will take your next breath because God wills and enables it. The very atoms in your body hold together because God is actively holding them together as you read this. Your job comes from God. As do your relationships.

We exist in the context of God’s goodness.
He doesn’t exist in the context of our need.

wall-of-pictures

We need better pictures of God

God is not your buddy or your coach. He doesn’t follow you around meeting your needs. He isn’t a lifeguard, who leaves us alone to play in the pool until we get in over our heads. He’s a terrible, all-powerful King who dwells in unapproachable light AND a good Father who loves us beyond our capacity to understand. Both terrible and loving. God serves us, but not like a household servant, a vending machine or a divine backup plan. His service is that of a sacrificial Lamb, who takes away your sin with His broken body and shed blood (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:17-21). He is the strong Parent who disciplines his children to facilitate their growth (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:4-11). He is the Gardener who prunes vines to yield more fruit (John 15:1-17), the master Craftsman who molds clay to create a masterpiece (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Isaiah 64:8), the Goldsmith who refines gold to maximize its purity (Hebrews 12:29; Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:3-7).

Not a lifeguard, but the Lord of life. Not an assistant, but a servant King.

Now, I’m quite sure that the members of one of my favorite bands do not by-and-large subscribe to a me-centric worldview. But amid the pressures to create catchy, innovative art or while trying to remain clear-headed in a din of overwhelming cultural voices, it’s easy to overlook foundational, unalterable theology. Whether we’re writing songs, preaching sermons, or just making our way through our days looking for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with the people we meet in everyday life, we have to be careful that the picture we paint of God is a true and real one. Keep in mind that likely more people than you know are watching and listening. And as we hum along with catchy tunes, let’s make sure we’re not reinforcing faulty worldviews in our minds, which in turn could result in significant unintended implications for our spiritual formation.

It’s not as catchy, but…

When I rise with the morning sun,
I will acknowledge the God who guides me and lights my path,
Who created and owns all things, even me,
He faithfully provides for the troubles that we share,
And no matter my circumstances, I will worship Him,
And when He calls my name, I will always be there.

framed picture of the bible

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
This entry was posted in Psalms, Music and Worship, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Least Favorite Caedmon’s Call Song

  1. deyelog says:

    I feel the same way about that song! Great expose’!

    Like

  2. Richard Binnington says:

    I agree that worship should be directed towards God. Songs that focus on how much we love God or how we will never leave God should be minimized.

    That being said, focusing on the attributes that are solely God’s can limit our worship of Him. God is not limited to his attributes just as a song is not limited by the individual notes. It is the relationship between the notes that gives it beauty

    For example, we see the beauty of God’s faithfulness as we see our utter faithlessness. The interaction between us and God at that point, as we have failed yet again and are coming back, is where even more beauty lies.

    Like

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