Monday, January 9, 2012

WILTS: Murdered Son (by John Mark McMillan)

I'm introducing a new feature to middle:brained - WILTS (Why I Like This Song). There are an incalculable number of songs that I enjoy, but there are definitely some that I like more than others. Murdered Son by John Mark McMillan is one of those songs and we introduced it to our church this weekend as elements for communion were being distributed.

You set us up above all the stars
You set us on a high place by where You are
And while we were dead, You made us Your friends
And scattered our debt upon the winds

Glory to One
God's murdered Son
Who payed for my resurrection

Once from the dust, once from the grave
Daughters and sons from the ashes You've raised
And hidden our faults even from Your own face
And scattered our debt upon the waves

Glory to the One who overcame in death
Glory to the One who paid for my offenses
Glory to the One
Glory to the One

There's so much I like about this song, I scarcely know where to begin. I should say first that I really appreciate John McMillan's prophetic writing style. He reminds me of Keith Green or Rich Mullins - not stylistically. Rather, he has a depth to his music (lyrics, most notably) that transcends conventionality and provides modern, new music that has the power to make you think. In a world of fluffy kleenex music (stuff that can be used, then discarded - some of my own songs included), John Mark is writing theologically rich lyrics that deserve to withstand the tests of time.

There are several phrases that I appreciate in this song. The first is the title - "murdered son." When I first heard it, it made me uncomfortable but I was able to get past that fairly quickly. There are plenty of scriptural truths that have the potential to (and should) make us uncomfortable when we ponder them. Then I began to think about what this means - MURDERED son. He was wasn't He? But didn't Christ also go to the cross willingly? Can it then be considered murder? I like the paradox. I like that it's not clean and tidy and I don't have a problem singing some lyrics that actually make us think.

My senior pastor, Randy, and I also appreciate the lyrics "once from the dust, once from the grave, daughters and sons from the ashes You've raised." If you're a literal thinker, "once from the dust" could mean the literal creation of son and daughter (Adam and Eve) and the fact that we are all descendants therein. But Randy and I surmise that "once from the dust" refers to our point of salvation here on earth and "once from the grave" means the resurrection of our bodies which Scripture talks about in the New Testament.

No matter how you dice it, this song is full of rich, solid theology and I'll tip my songwriting hat to John Mark McMillan willingly. On top of the lyrics, the song also has a catchy, singable, haunting melody that I find myself humming with regularity. He's written many other songs that are equally as compelling (someday I'll write a WILTS post about Death In His Grave) and I'm glad that he's a part of the worship leading and artistic community.


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