When I was a skeptical teenager in high school, I got very angry when the Jesus freaks in our psychology class claimed that Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was a Christian song. I rejected their idea, but I never forgot it.
Now that I am a believer, I accept their claim and I want to apply it to other popular songs I have heard over the years. If God is Love, then lots of love songs could easily be about God. In fact, substitute the word “God” for the word “Love” in many lyrics and the song takes on meaning that feels truer to me.
For example, when Karen Carpenter sings “Won’t Last a Day Without You,” the song makes much more sense referring to God than to a human lover. And all those love songs where the lover promises that he will be with the loved one forever make more sense coming from God. Human lovers are notoriously fickle, and their grandiose claims must be understood as hyperbolic metaphor. Think about the Jackson’s “I’ll Be There,” the Beatles’ “Anytime at All,” and the Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” These are just three that played in my car last week. I think we love to hear this assurance of an eternal and unconditional love, and we will accept it from a human lover as a declaration, knowing only God can give us such love.
I believe the Holy Spirit inspires most songwriters, regardless of genre or time period. Thus, most songs are about love in some way. Love is the thing we all yearn for, and at bottom we are yearning for God. God will get his message of Love into us one way or another. It is his passion. And he doesn’t give a hoot about the labels we put on it—secular, sacred, church music, worship music, rock and roll, hip-hop, jazz, country, pop, new age, musical theater, classical. It is all music, and music is one of God’s favorite tools.