Cover the earth

As I have said before lyrics to worship songs need to be theologically sound. As this is unfortunately where many people get their theology from, as it is a known fact that even in evanglical circles Christians don't tend to do a heck of a lot of Bible reading. In knowing this fact, the song below just scares me with how theologically inept it is, despite the fact that the music to it is really good (which is one reason I think it is gaining popularity in church circles) .

In recent times there has started to be a trend for people to be positively critical of the sermons they hear , however this hasn't been carried along to music as much which is deeply concerning. Anyway now for the song in question, with my remarks in brackets.

Cover the earth

Let me be an instrument
To exalt and to extend
Jesus’ name globally (sounds okay so far, in fact I'm all for the first 3 lines)
As the waters cover the sea (whats this line about and how exactly does it relate??)
Open the heavens O Lord
And pour out Your Spirit

Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven (any ideas what the sound of heaven is)
Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
Cover the earth

Let me speak what You say (which would be? .........)
Let the sound prepare the way (right, the sound)
Kingdom come globally
As the waters cover the sea (yes the waters, we can't forget the waters)
Open the heavens O Lord
Pour out Your Spirit

Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
All of the earth is Yours
All of the nations adore You (this is news to me, and the persecuted church)
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven (here comes the sound again, ...)
Cover the earth

Open up the heavenlies (what the heck are the heavenlies when they are at home)
Let a new sound be released (were we sick of the old sound and is sound different to the sound we were talking about before?)
As the waters cover the sea (can't forget the waters)
Cover the earth

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10 thoughts - add yours!:

  1. Fraser Dron Says:

    Haven't heard the song, but here's my take on the lyrics:

    Let me be an instrument
    To exalt and to extend
    Jesus’ name globally ()
    As the waters cover the sea (poetic licence; similes are ok if they're understandable, but what does it mean for Jesus' name to 'cover the earth'?)
    Open the heavens O Lord
    And pour out Your Spirit (I always have trouble with the Spirit-as-liquid metaphor. I think it's dumb.)

    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with the sound of heaven (a mixed metaphor, and what is 'the sound of heaven'?)
    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
    Cover the earth

    Let me speak what You say (a fine sentiment which needs to be elaborated on to merit being in the song)
    Let the sound prepare the way (The mentally sound? Milford sound? Heh.)
    Kingdom come globally
    As the waters cover the sea (just in there for the rhyme I guess)
    Open the heavens O Lord
    Pour out Your Spirit

    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with Your glory
    Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
    All of the earth is Yours
    All of the nations adore You (I think this is the pentecostal name-it-and-claim-it doctrine?)
    Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
    Cover the earth

    Open up the heavenlies (your guess is as good as mine)
    Let a new sound be released (what?)
    As the waters cover the sea (blah blah blah)
    Cover the earth

  2. Mark Says:

    I agree with the general point that many "worship" songs are silly.

    This one's certainly not great, but it doesn't strike me as much worse than many others...

    Here are a few bits I can help out with:

    "As the waters cover the sea" -

    "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Hab 2:14
    So it is in the Bible...(strange that the verses following it never make it into worship songs. Verse 15 condemns those who get their neighbours drunk so they can see them naked...)

    "Cover the earth with the sound of heaven" -

    "And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps." Rev 14:2
    Well even the Bible is confused on what "the sound of heaven" is...

  3. Lisa Says:

    Points taken Mark, thanks for that! :) however:

    1) Hab is talking in the future tense as note , 'the earth will be', which is exactly my point because the earth isn't right now

    2) Okay so its like the sound of harps... well where is the reference to that (the harps) in the song? If you are going to make reference to something that abstract (the sound of heaven) and not tell us exactly what that sound is, because it is not something that humans have experienced or commonly know about, it would help to include that in the lyrics.

  4. Ted Slater Says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for continuing the conversation about the importance of lyrics in our worship songs. I agree that lyrics must promote sound doctrine, and not include meaningless fluff. There are song GREAT worship songs out there, but there's far too much fluff. Problem is that much of this fluff has a good melody, which deceives too many worship pastors and church members. Hmf.

  5. Nathan Says:

    I think you need to tweak your template slightly, the persons name is below the comment, making it look like the next comment is theirs.

    An interesting way to analyze songs is to think in terms of buzz-phrases. In churches, you often get a lot of buzz words and phrases thrown around, which often come from good places, but get ripped out of context. e.g. 'let your word cover the land as waters cover the sea' is good, but then people rip it out, like the sound of / associations of it, and add it into another song. Forgetting that phrases only work in context, so that people who haven't the buzz phrase before are lost completely.

  6. LutheranHusker Says:

    I can offer some insight on "the heavenlies." I'm guessing it's referring to "the heavenly gates". In biblical times the prevailing view was that there was a dome that covered the earth, and the sky was blue because there was water on the other side of the dome. So when it rained, it was the gates of heaven opening and letting some of the water in. It's worded that way in a number of the psalms, and when you read the account of Noah's Ark you see that imagery as well.

    So, in this song we seem to have another mixed metaphor...opening the heavenly gates not so that rain may fall but so that whatever the "new sound" from heaven is may be released.

    All in all, the song's a big piece of theological sugary fluff. Not dangerous per se, but with very little actual spiritual nutritional value, and will give you a stomach ache if you ingest too much.

  7. shawn Says:

    Hi Lisa,

    You said: Anyway I don’t think simply returning to the Psalms Shawn is the way to go, simply using one book and ignoring the rest is blindly ignoring the beauty of many of the images and theology present in many of the other books and I think brings in another issue altogether. For example if we just use the Psalms how are people ever going to know anything about Jesus and his redemption etc

    You’d have to check out those links I posted, they deal with your comment in detail, but let me briefly say that Christ is in the Psalms. In fact He is the main subject of the Psalms. In the Psalms you will see reference to all of the content of the Church Creeds, ie. His divinity, mission, birth, ministry, suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, his present seat at the Right Hand, his future coming, judgment, consummation of history, glory, and everything in between.

    One of the deficiencies in the Church today is their lack of familiarity with the inspired Hymnbook of the Church. However, you will find that the Church historically sang only the Psalms for about 1800 years (apart from other songs pulled from other places in the Scriptures).

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  8. mompriest Says:

    whenever I choose a hymn for worship, regardless of how much I may "love" the music, I always read the lyrics for theology. Often I am looking to connect the theology of the hymn with my sermon or the readings or at least have some relevant theology to convey - so, yea, I agree.

  9. PK Says:

    From a review of "Cover the Earth",... the second live release from Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, (Joel Osteen)hits the ground running. Cindy Cruse Ratcliff and Israel Houghton trade off leading songs (many co-written by the two) that have no trouble getting a body on their feet.

    The title track leads off the set with the cry for God to glorify Himself throughout the earth. "Let me be an instrument to exalt and to extend Jesus' name globally. As the waters cover the sea". Right away the worshiper is given a taste of the exuberant nature of the band. Horns, guitars, keys, choirs; all coming together allowing Cruse Ratcliff to minister with her amazing voice.

    So now I know who wrote it... and for what audience... and a portion of what the reviewer thinks. I would send the writers the questions that you have about the lyrics. Hopefully... they will answer them... and there will be a sound theology behind their words... but I'm guessing that they either won't answer... or that the theology is going to be pretty wiggly.

  10. 1-4 Grace Says:

    Totally with you on the importance of sound theology in worship music.
    Unfortunatly all too often much of the fluff songs are popular.
    Our youth lvoe to sing 'em, they have appealing music and they are usually easy to sing with repeated lines (i.e. cover the earth, sound of heaven.
    I was slightly appalled by the number of "going steady with Jesus" and "Jesus and Me" songs that are popular with youth.
    I prefer Taize music. It does have sound theology, it is still easy to sing with the repetitions, and can be appealing. Granted not a lot of percussion or a strong bass, but beautiful.
    finding appeal with youth? Might not happen. Can we bee-bop or rap some Taize?