I vs We in Worship

This was somewhat creepy timing so I definitely had to blog on it. Yesterday (Wednesday), I saw this blog post by Kurt Willems with the video below:

On Tuesday, we had talked about language in worship and one of the points I drew out of the textbook to pose to the class was the difference between “I” language and “we” language in worship. The text pointed out that in the 70’s and 80’s, many churches changed their hymnals to use plural language instead of individual. Then they changed back, and the explanation was something along the lines of that singing “I” while in a group assumes a communal consciousness. That sounded absolutely ridiculous to me: how does “I” equal “a communal consciousness”? Willems points this individualism out with most contemporary music as well.

Combined with that, the reasoning was that often the problem is that individuals need some personal interaction with God – not just as a community. This is a big distinction I’ve made before: we should have personal relationships with God, but not individual ones. They are not the same thing. Personal means that it is something that is meaningful to you, not just to others. I agree with the usual evangelical mantra that this is absolutely vital. Individual means that your faith is isolated and detached from the rest of the body of Christ, and you can’t really say you belong to Christ if you’re saying you don’t need the rest of the body (1 Corinthians 12).

I wouldn’t suggest that we completely do away with individual language, but especially in an individualistic culture (including often individualistic church cultures), I would definitely put the emphasis on how we are praising God together as one. I’ve been to many contemporary worship services where they change the I-language to we-worship most of the times throughout, but since there is usually a lot of repetition, they switch back to I for some of it to still convey the personal message, too. I’m not a musician so I can’t weigh in too much on the process of deciding this, but I find this type of approach works best.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.