Earnest Words

Truthful Worship Songs: Holy is the Lord God Almighty

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“Christians don’t tell lies — they just go to church and sing them” – A.W. Tozer

Why do so many worship songs call on Christians to sing things that aren’t true? Case in point, from Chris Tomlin’s Holy is the Lord:

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He

Full lyrics

Has anyone ever seen anyone else bow down during this song? No? That’s a gruesome irony. Apparently, He is not holy enough for people to bow down. Making the bowing down a metaphor isn’t much better. God is metaphorically great?

I’ve made some gentle changes to this song to make worship more accurate. I also added some punctuation to keep me from going mad. Some things don’t fit but don’t you think it’s better not to sing lies?

Most stand and some lift their hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength.
God is great;
We worship Him now.
How great, how awesome is He?

“He’s great!”
Together we sing.
Even the guys humming – that counts!

Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory.
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory.
The earth is filled with His glory.

Most stand and some lift their hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Those who can’t stand, they worship Him now.
How great, how awesome is He?

And together we sing.
Everyone sing
Even the guy in the back! Please!

Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
The earth is filled with His glory

It’s rising up all around
It’s the anthem of the Lord’s renown

And together we sing,
Everyone sing
Or you can just listen


Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty
Holy, Holy
[Repeat 2x]

If you’ve got another worship song with lyrics that need adjustment for accurate worship, let me know. I’m on the case.


8 responses to “Truthful Worship Songs: Holy is the Lord God Almighty”

  1. joy Avatar

    Well said. With a gap of leeway for the newer-comers who are still figuring out all this stuff, which is not who this post is likely directed at anyways.

    And even if we think our God is awesome enough to bow to, to feel a little out of our element for, are the words we sing true and reflected in our lives Monday through Saturday?

    Or, you know, we could look at these songs (and the scriptures that back them up) and use them to teach us how to worship, rather than just singing along.

    But we’re a society and even a church that loves to sing about things we “don’t really” believe in, just for the catchy tune. Pick your choice of popular songs about sleeping around, revenge, partying, whatever- its okay to sing about, we don’t really think that way so it doesn’t matter. Why should worship be any different? It’s just words, right?


    1. John Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Joy.

      I think that your last sentence – “It’s just words, right?” – is the biggest problem that I have with bad worship songs. They don’t take into account what the words, especially with the absence of punctuation, actually mean.

      If I am saying that I bow down and worship someone but then don’t actually do it, the words mean nothing. It reinforces an ethic that your actions do not matter, just the words that you say.

      /end serious discussion

      @All – I have comment moderation on so that I am not spammed up the wazoo. I will try to get your legit comments up ASAP.

  2. Dave Christman Avatar

    Hey John Michael! Hope you’re doing well! I have to say I was intrigued by your post title when you posted it on Facebook, as I agree with you that a lot of modern worship songs have some really horrible lyrics. I think it’s due to Bad Theology. Another Tozer quote for you from Knowledge of The Holy “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I think this is true, because what we really, truly believe about God dictates the way that we live, the way that we love, and the way that we worship. Many “Christians” don’t worship God as this song and the Bible says that we should, because we don’t really believe that God is Holy, that He’s sufficient, that He’s all powerful, and that He’s worth it.

    And that leads to a whole slew of really bad worship songs, of which I don’t think the one you picked is one of. 🙂 It seems like you’re more frustrated with people in your church and the church as a whole who aren’t necessarily into the music aspect of worship. I tend on the side of being more concerned of the songs people are singing in church and many of the messages that are shared from the pulpit that don’t really point us towards Christ to respond in worship to Christ (however they must). As for the first few lines of this song, and many other songs I always thought the lifting and hands to be more figurative than literal. ie. bowing your heart… But there is something to say of being unashamed for Christ especially in a place as safe as a church. 🙂 anyways keep writing man, maybe go after a song with bad theology next time! 🙂

    1. John Avatar

      Hey Dave,

      I don’t think that “Holy is the Lord” is a bad worship song – there are very bad ones with very screwed up theology. For the most part, I usually find that the bad theology is more a product of poor writing than heretical impulse. This is what sets me off – why are the lyrics so crappy? Or lazy? And some of the lyrics from “Holy is the Lord” are a little silly: people singing about how they lift up their hands which are firmly in their pockets.

      I’m not very concerned with what people are doing in church during worship (ironic in light of that last statement, I know!). I used to be very concerned with what people did during worship or how they sang; I even told my mother that she should sing more quietly once. In my defense, I was 16 and a self-righteous twerp. She correct me appropriately. Sometimes, I just enjoy watching other people sing. Other times, I just enjoy the worship leader singing.

      I would just like lyrics to make sense. If the lifting of our hands is figurative, how does it change the second line of the lyric? “The joy of the LORD is our strength. Figuratively.” It’s a little silly. I don’t want it to be metaphor because I want the joy of the LORD to be my strength.

      When I can remember the name of some songs that I really hate, I will post about them.

      Do you have a song you’d like me to go after?

      This is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. People tend to make huge theological arguments about the smallest things – so why shouldn’t I be righteously indignant about the unimportant words in worship songs?

    2. John Avatar

      @Dave I also trashed your duplicate comment. Let me know if you want me to bring it back.

  3. steve Avatar

    funny… true… sad… God’s chuckling…I’m chuckling… why do some worship leaders wear skinny jeans? Are they rock stars? Do I have to wear skinny jeans to worship correctly?Distracting? Yes… Maybe… Oh Well!

    1. John Avatar

      Skinny jeans force the blood upwards, into the heart, allowing worship to be more powerful.

      Also, it makes the worship leaders look hawt. It is nice to have some male eye candy.

  4. David Avatar

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your blog,as well as your farewell column. Kudos, and keep writing.

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