Ambiguous Lyrics and Cultural Connotations? A Discussion on Wes King’s “The Robe”

You have probably noticed several posts over the last few months credited to our pseudonymous friend NewSoGoFan. The origin of these is quite simple: NewSoGoFan thinks up an idea and asks if I’d run it. Sometimes I say yes, other times no, but in one recent case I thought the discussion resulting from an idea was more interesting than the post itself would have been.

NSF: Here’s a song that really struck me yesterday as one that could work very well in an SG context. Hopefully it strikes you the same way (though of course it may not). But it was a popular CCM hit back in the 90s by an artist named Wes King. Wes has written some very strong material for other artists but has personally not received much recognition as an artist himself. But for example, he wrote the lyrics to Michael W. Smith’s “This is Your Time.” This song is called “The Robe,” and it actually became very popular when he released it himself.

Daniel: I have heard that song. In fact, I heard it on CCM radio enough that I’m not sure I personally want to hear an SG artist doing it.

NSF: I’d say that’s a lot less applicable here than with something like “The Basics of Life.” Now there I would totally agree with you!

Daniel: Let’s just say that my station must have played it more than yours!

NSF: Here’s something to keep in mind: Honestly, I think the question with these candidates isn’t so much whether you personally would or wouldn’t like to hear a particular song done SG style. The question is whether or not it could work effectively. And if you don’t think so, that’s worth something. But just saying you’re tired of the song… doesn’t seem as relevant. To me anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ And of course another obvious requirement is that the song be a good one.

Daniel: I think it’s a good song, but not a great song.

NSF: Oh, I already knew you didn’t like the song as much as I did. But that’s not what I meant. ๐Ÿ™‚ And besides, you might like it better if [group name] did it.

Daniel: Actually, I suspect I still wouldn’t like it . . .

NSF: Here, I’ll bite. Why don’t you like it? I really am curious. To me, it has things like this going for it:

  1. Solid, biblical lyrics (always a must)
  2. Thoughtful lyrics, which goes beyond merely being biblical. Plus it uses a colorful bit of imagery (the robe of God clothing our nakedness) which isn’t a concept that occurs to most people when writing “come as you are songs”– maybe just the general idea of our being naked. But this song takes the theme a little further and is consequently more memorable and effective.
  3. Good melody, with a chorus hook that delivers and sticks in your head.

Obviously you are free to disagree with me on any of those points or add some complaints of your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

Daniel: Several issues I have with the song:

  1. The focus around the line “come as you are.” The line itself is correct theologicallyโ€”it’s not inherently incorrectโ€”but there is also a major cultural connotation here. The “come as you are” theology of seeker-sensitive churches frequently plays out in such a way that the sentence could be completed “come as you are, stay as you are.” I have no problem with the line itself, but as it’s used in the cultureโ€”now that starts me off with a bad taste about the lyric.
  2. The lyrics don’t rhyme. Now, that doesn’t immediately strike a song out, it’s just a minus for me. Yes, I like some songs with lyrics that don’t rhyme, probably, but I admittedly can’t think of any just now.
  3. Songs can meander. But great songs can’t. So the main concept of the song is about the robe of God covering our nakedness. Great concept, and could make a great song. The chorus could even be the chorus of a great song. But the verses? Cold hearts, empty hands, tired feet . . . none of those suggest nakedness, the need for a robe. For the chorus to shine in solving a problem, the verses have to set up or at least hint at the problem. Nothing in the verses sets up the chorus.
  4. Musically, the melody is OK, but I really don’t like the electric guitar solo. I never have liked electric guitar solos, actually. Occasionally, I’ll tolerate them, but they’re just not my thing overall.
  5. And Wes’s voice – OK, it’s not as bad as Michael W. Smith, but it’s still too Smithian for my taste.

But the musical stuff is a minor sticking point. #4 and #5 can be erased with a translation. But the translation can’t solve a catchphrase that has been misappropriated, dismantled, and subverted by the most popular (or at least most advertised) strain of American Christianity. And it can’t solve a meandering verse lyric that fails to even do a fraction of what a verse setting up the payoff of the title hook should have done.

#2, #4, and #5 are all drawbacks, but #1 and #3 are the big ones for me. There may be a few points I’m not thinking of, so I’m reserving the right to say that the list is potentially incomplete. ๐Ÿ™‚

NSF: All the musical complaints you brought up could indeed be erased with a translation. I happen also to like Wes’s voice and the guitar solo, but that’s not even relevant here.

As for the lyrics not rhymingโ€”that’s just funny. Yeah, it’s a pet peeve of mine too, but you know why I got over it? Because I can’t think of a single song I like off the top of my head that doesn’t have at least one non-rhyming pair of lyrics. You yourself like many, many, many songs with lyrics that don’t rhyme. I could give you a copious list if you wanted one, but two off the top of my head are “Death Has Died” and “In Christ Alone.”

Daniel: ICA is a decent case in point. Death Has Died has, at least, some lyrics that rhyme, even if the chorus doesn’t.

The song has a number of good lines – a number of good ingredients, if you will. A number of great lines, even. It’s just that the recipe for combining them together isn’t what it could have been for the quality of the idea.

#1 and #3 are still the big sticking points, the two big ones (meandering lyrics and cultural connotations of the main hook) that make me hesitant to say yes. Everything else I could set aside.

NSF: Okay. One thought right away, more later. About the rhyming lyrics… I had previously assumed that it was a case of sloppy rhyming, but after listening to them again, I realized that they’re not even trying to rhyme. There’s a difference between lyrics that aren’t supposed to rhyme anyway and lyrics that are but don’t.

Daniel: Either way, they fail at rhyming, and Wes didn’t even try. ๐Ÿ™‚ But since I’m a lyrics nut, it probably bothers me more than you. Either way, 2’s not as big as 1 and 3.

NSF: All right. Now let’s move on to the biggies.

1. Cultural connotations of the main theme: I completely understand your concern here and, like you, agree that there is far too prevalent an idea in our culture that “come as you are” is equivalent to “stay as you are.” As you noted, the phrase taken on its own may be biblically correct, but the problem is the interpretation people will put on it. They will over-emphasize the grace and mercy of God to the exclusion of our responsibility to crucify the old man, obey Christ, and walk in the light. It is dangerous to fall into the trap of thinking, “Wait a minute… God loves me just as I am? You mean I get to go to heaven but I still get to keep all my old habits of sin? Wahoo!” As even Martin Luther would have told you, it is no advocacy of “works salvation” to be firm on the idea that we are supposed to change after our conversion.

That said though, I think it’s a bit too far in the other direction then to say that we cannot sing any songs that use the phrase “come as you are” simply because people might read something unbiblical into them. I think of this particular song as much closer to the hymn “Come Ye Sinners,” which goes like this…

Come ye sinners poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore
Jesus ready stands to save you
Full of pity, love and power

…than it is to the chorus from a highly popular CCM song called “Free To Be Me,” which goes a little something like this…

I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I’m so clumsy
But on your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me

Now you could say that even “Come Ye Sinners” could be twisted and massaged around to mean something like what “Free To Be Me” is communicating, but I think we can agree that between those two sets of lyrics, there is a great gulf fixed. Big difference between something correct and biblical which could be twisted around into something wrong if you tried hard enough and a lyric that just is… wrong. Incidentally, “Come Ye Sinners” even has a line about coming as you are, and it goes like this:

If you tarry til you’re better
You will never come at all

I believe that this may be much closer to what Wes had in mind when he wrote “come as you are,” particularly since the other lyrics of his song bear similarities to this hymn.

On to #3!

Verse lyrics that are unconnected to or unsolved by the chorus: Here I actually think your complaint is even less significant than #1. Referring to the lyrics, you said,

So the main concept of the song is about the robe of God covering our nakedness. Great concept, and could make a great song. The chorus could even be the chorus of a great song. But the verses? Cold hearts, empty hands, tired feet . . . none of those suggest nakedness, the need for a robe. For the chorus to shine in solving a problem, the verses have to set up or at least hint at the problem. Nothing in the verses sets up the chorus.

Strictly literally, that is true. If we wanted lyrics that directly suggested literal nakedness, I suppose they would have to be more… specific. But isn’t “nakedness” here being used as a metaphor for guilt, shame? I refer to Genesis 3:9-10:

And the lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Andย  he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Compare with the reference in “The Robe” to “anyone who’s just afraid.” Or take the description, “Anyone who feels that they’re unworthy” and compare it with the story of the prodigal son, who comes and tells his father that he is not worthy to be called his son. What does the father do?

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe [emphasis added], and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

Now, was the prodigal son literally naked, as Adam was? No. But he was ashamed. His life and sins were laid bare before the father (God). All was exposed, nothing hidden. So the term “nakedness” is a reference to the helplessness and shame of our fallen state as we come to the father, unworthy, afraid, and empty-handed. It is only when we surrender (as the song invites all sinners to do) that we are clothed in the robe of God’s righteousness, welcomed as sons and daughters once again, our guilty stains washed clean, our souls redeemed, and our reward assured.

Daniel: On #1: I would agree that there is a gulf between “Come Ye Sinners” and “Free to Be Me.” This song’s lyric itself is theologically correct, but I would still contend that the choice of the phrase “come as you are” as the key phrase in each verse was unfortunate due to its cultural connotations.

In American culture today, if you stand outside a church and tell someone “come as you are,” they’ll think one thing. On the other hand, try standing outside and tell them “come, ye sinners, poor and needy”!

On #3: Fascinating. With that explanation, the song does make sense on the metaphorical level.

But I think that great songs are understandable when you first listen to them. It is a plus if they also have a rich metaphorical meaning. But even if it has that, if a literally minded listener could not make sense of the lyrics, it may be good but cannot be great. ๐Ÿ™‚

NSF: On #1: “The Robe” actually does have a line saying, “Come sinner, come and receive his mercy.”

On #3: Perhaps. But then, I never claimed that the song was great or a masterpiece, now did I? I merely wished to prove that the song was better, much better, than you appeared to be giving it credit for. Elusion of initial understanding need not always be a mark of greatness, to be sure, and many are intentionally obscure while under the illusion that they are being profound. But on the other hand, I do not think it a necessary mark of greatness for a song lyric to be easily understood.

Daniel: On #1: Point conceded. But my concern about the cultural connotations of the song’s key phrase leads me to not want to feature it here.

On #3: I thought you were making the case earlier that it was a great song. ๐Ÿ™‚

Probably other genres can have a great song where the lyrics elude initial understanding. A few genres could even have a great song with intentionally obscure lyrics. So I think I need to modify my thesis: A great Southern Gospel song must have lyrics that are easily understood.

NSF: Actually, the initial goal was simply “good enough to let me write a column on it.” ๐Ÿ˜€

Daniel: Ah! Well, I think we’re coming out with a column at the end, even if the content will be a little different than originally intended. But I think this exchange (condensed, out of mercy to our readers) will be far more interesting!

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41 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. While you kind of separated the two, I actually think the ambiguous lyrics and cultural connotations are related. If you write lyrics that aren’t as ambiguous, you won’t likely have as many cultural connotations about the song/lyrics.

    Heres the song for those who, like me, had never heard it:

    I’m not sure what to think about the “come as you are” line. I definitely see both sides.

    • I would agree that they’re related.

    • Incidentally, here’s a testimony from somebody on Youtube about this song:

      Many years ago I came home drunk from a night of partying and turned on the tv and this vid was playing… change began as๏ปฟ I watched and listened. PRAISE THE LORD! Thank you Wes for writing this song.

      Notice he said, “My CHANGE began.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I think there are some really constructive and adroit critiques of my song there. Over the years as I have performed that song and gotten away from it for years because of caner, I agree there are a lot of weak individual parts. The biggest weakness is me, for sure.
      I think the music is really strong because PHIL NAISH WROTE THAT. I a young man reaching for the beauty of the gospel with my short arms. I wanted to wrap my arms around it, but I was too small. I look back on how I use to only want to hear from people who liked what I did. Now, I so appreciate someone caring enough about the God we serve to look at the lyrics we write and make the better. I support that fully. God bless you.

      • Wow! I’m honored that you stopped by, and amazed at your humility regarding the critique of the song.

        [edit – deleted a mistake]

      • I think that’s Wayne Watson, not Wes King. Anyways, wow how cool that you and YGG got a comment from him all these years later! I love the song but you two sure had an articulate conversation about it!

      • Oops. Good catch!

  2. Oh, you condensed it! I was tempted to suggest doing so! ๐Ÿ˜†

    An interesting exchange. It kept bringing me back to the late, great Hinsons’ song “Come As You Are.” I think an important element in that song is that it’s pretty much written in the past tense. It’s clear that they don’t mean “stay as you are.” However, as I was trying to mentally play the song in my head, I couldn’t remember anywhere that’s expressly stated. (Memory-jogger, if the title doesn’t do it – “Now I was no better than that woman of sin, / You’ve got no room to brag…” The song definitely does have some lyrical flaws; some song-writing geniuses don’t, unfortunately, take time to work all the kinks out.)

    I haven’t heard the song in question, and don’t have sound at work. But I wouldn’t reject a song just based on how somebody might take it. I’d have to excise a lot of the Bible on that basis. I think that a song does have a right to be taken in context with other work done by the … let’s say singer, since the average listener doesn’t keep up on song authors.

    If someone has a dishonest heart, they will wrest any song, message, or Scripture … “to their own destruction.” I give up on closing all the loopholes.

    To try to get in line with the subject of the post, I think that the cultural connotations within the SG world are pretty positive; I wouldn’t be too worried about this song (based on what I know about it). It might be a good idea to pair it with another song on the same album, let’s say “He Made a Change”! (Probably I’ve cross-posted with a few people.)

    • I think stylistically these two songs would clash though. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I like your idea—that’s what I appreciate about something like “He Made a Change” or “Child Forgiven” though. There’s no doubt about the message there: I am free, but I am DIFFERENT now. I’m NOT what I used to be.

  3. Because He Lives doesnt rhyme.

    • The verses do, I think.

      I hate thinking about this subject. I don’t realize a song doesn’t rhyme until someone points it out, and then it tends to bother me. “The Healer” (it’s in our hymn book) doesn’t rhyme, and a completely unmusical, “arhythmical” person likes to call that song, and I can’t stand it. ๐Ÿ™

      • The song the Talley Trio sang? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      • Maybe I got the name wrong. This one has a Bible verse as the chorus, “He was wounded for our transgressions …” but the verses don’t rhyme either.

      • OK. I know that one, too, come to think of it. Not sure if that’s the name, either.

      • Hmmmm, not sure if I know that one. I have heard the Talley song though, and I do think your comments could be applied there—to some of it anyway. Parts of it are very good, but other parts are incredibly awkward!

    • Well, the verses rhyme singulars with plurals… lives and forgives, pain and reigns… so they kind of do and they kind of don’t. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Sorry, lives and forgive, singular.

      • It satisfies my subconscious, so I call it a rhyme. ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Haha, this is the last place I thought I’d see Francesca Battistelli lyrics. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ah! Well that’s a by-product of my futile attempt to stick with CCM even as I’ve watched it go down in flames in the past couple of years… ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. The power the Gospel is manifested in changed lives. My pastor often says, “if it’s not new, then it’s not true”, meaning if you don’t have a new life after the salvation experience, then your salvation experience is not true. If you still do the same things after “salvation” that you did before, then what are you saved from? We know that we’re not saved by good works, but true salvation should and does produce good works.

    I said that to say this: the day that Gospel music ceases to speak of a new life, it ceases to be Gospel music. For instance the GVB’s “Jesus and John Wayne”. I enjoy this song musically, but the message leaves room for multiple interpretations in today’s culture. The line “maybe that’s the best I can ever hope to be” is stopping short of what we are striving for. What we cease to follow after, we soon fall from. If we quit pursuing perfection because “we’ll never be perfect”, then where will we wind up? If you aim for nothing, you will hit it!

    The point is, Gospel music must always continue to encourage us to keep striving and “pressing for the mark and the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus”. If the message in the song encourages us to just accept what we are and not strive to improve, then it’s not Gospel.

    • As a slightly off-topic follow up to my previous comments, it’s sad that a lot of Christian churches today want a “feel-good” Gospel. They want to feel comfortable in their sin, without being challenged to change. They want their ears tickled with smooth sayings and a self-help doctrine, but anything with a challenge to turn from sin and to lay down your life and take up your cross is harsh and judgmental. Yet that’s what we need most today if we are going to see revival. Not ambiguous words left up to private interpretation, but the clear note and certain sound of the absolute truth of God’s word as it relates to His and our holiness in our quest to be like Him.

    • Good comments, Joseph.

  6. Sorry Daniel – I can’t let you get by with saying that Wes King’s beautiful, pure tenor tones are anything close to MWS’s nasal drip of a vocal style. They aren’t even in the same playing field. I’ve never heard Wes once do any of the nasally styles or rip your throat out ad libs that Smith does. King remains well within his range – often using his beautiful falsetto to enhance the lyric.

    BTW – “The Robe” is one of my favorite songs from King. Beautiful melody and striking lyrics. If the song had said “Come As You Are, and stay that way” – then maybe I can agree with Daniel’s gripe. But it doesn’t. Don’t put words in the writers mouth (one of my big pet peeves). If the writer doesn’t say it – don’t assume he meant it.

    However, my favorite song by King wasn’t even a radio single – it was “Grace” off of his Room Full of Stories CD. Man, it’s a beautiful tender song, sung exceptionally well, that tells a great story.

    Has anyone heard how Wes has been doing? He was diagnosed with cancer and going through Chemo a couple of years ago. Hadn’t heard much since then…

    • Chris,

      But that line is a cultural catchphrase, and does carry that cultural connotation. He had to have known that, even if he didn’t intend that to be a takeaway.

      And I’m willing to concede that his voice is not as bad as MWS’s.

      • The song was written almost 20 years ago – really before the whole emergent movement started to take place. He guarantee you that he didn’t know it would carry those connotations.

        Even IF he did – I, as a writer, would have no problem sticking that line in a song. The bible is very clear that we can come as we are. You are correct – it doesn’t say we stay that way – but neither does that line by itself.

        And I still don’t know how you can say his voice is bad to begin with. Chris Allman often reminds me of Wes King in his vocal style…

    • Chris, I don’t have the very latest on Wes, but my understanding was that he recovered and is now doing well.

      I really like Wes’s voice too—you captured very well why I don’t think it’s fair to compare him to Smitty!

      I heard “Grace” once a while ago—at the time I had a little trouble grasping what it was trying to get at, but I might understand better if I went and listened to it again. Right now I think my favorite Wes song might be “What Matters Most.” Powerful lyric, and say what you will about Smitty’s voice, but he plays a great piano on that one…

  7. I also have to say – I think there comes a point when someone has to take a step back and quit analyzing a lyric so harshly. I think that’s the problem here. We have to look at this lyric from a cultural standpoint of when it was written – not now. This song is almost 20 years old (The Robe was released in 93 – so the song was probably written in 91 or 92). The Emergent movement (seeker-friendly) didn’t really take off until the late 90s and early 2000s.

    Why can’t we just view this song from the context that it was written – God’s grace will cover you in your shame. Period. Let’s not dissect it more than it needs to.

    • You bring up an interesting point about cultural connotations. I think I would agree that a song with that phrase would carry more of a mixed meaning today than it did then.

      • Chris – the seeker-sensitive movement was already going strong in the early to mid 90s, at least in my area – though it was pre-emergent.

    • More accurately, God’s grace will take you OUT of your shame, and completely eradicate the shame, not just cover it up. God loves us too much to leave us in our shame, covered or uncovered. When the blood covers our sins, they are REMITTED, or completely erased.

      “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid”. “The grace of God hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world”.

      Of course we come as we are; there’s no other way to come. We can’t come as something “better” than what we are. God sees right through our coverups and straight to our wretchedness. We come to him presenting what we are to him (our old tattered garments) so he can clothe us with his garments of righteousness. The new garments of righteousness don’t just cover up the existing shame, they replace it. We have to give the shameful garments to him in order to receive his righteousness. A perfect example is in Genesis with Adam and Eve. They covered up with fig leaves, or their own “righteousness”, but God made them cloaks of bearskins to meet his requirements.

      I agree that 20-30 years ago, there would have been no problem with this lyric, like the hymn “Just As I Am”. Back then people understood what was meant when we say “come as you are” (my statements above reflect the implication). But in today’s “emergent” movement, that statement has a different inferrence. Nowaday’s it’s “Just As I Am, and I Kinda Like It That Way, So Don’t Try To Make Me Change”.

      Today’s “come as you are” mentality is also reflected in the advent of more “casual and cool” churches. It’s too “stuffy” to dress your best for God and wear a nice suit to church. Church is being watered down to appease the masses, instead of insisting that the masses measure up to Biblical principles. But I digress….

      • Oh dear… I have to put in a link to that viral Sunday’s Coming video here. Spoof on the modern church… falls somewhere between “ouch” and “boinnnng”:

      • Good post Joseph!

        Most interesting how the perception of a lyric changes over time. Without a doubt the emergent message seems to be, “Stay as you are” – which sadly reinterprets some otherwise good gospel songs and hymns, where “Come as you are” – to be CHANGED by the power of Christ, has been the message of two millenia.

        Maybe we need more “power in the blood” type lyrics!

        That which offends, theologically, is usually honest and Biblical; that which is acceptable to everyman must be ambiguous!

      • “That which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God”. If the world is falling for for it, God’s probably against it. That goes for “new” doctrines and methods in the church, too.

        As for me, I think I’ll stick to the old paths, and go back to the original Apostle’s doctrine and methods. They used prayer and preaching and the power of the Holy Ghost to acheive great revival throughout the land. They focused on the power of the blood and of the resurrected life. Most of Paul’s writings deal with the resultant lifestyle of a Christian after the new birth experience. If it worked back then in an atmosphere of tolerance and sensuality of the Roman Empire, I believe it will work today!

        Every professing Christian should make a study of the book of Acts. That is where the Christian church was born, and that is where precedents for its existence and functionality were established. Jesus is coming back for no less of a church than what he left when he ascended!! The Book of Acts church should be our measuring stick of what church should look and feel like. If what we have today doesn’t match that template, then I doubt it’s acceptable to God!

      • Bro,

        Agree wholeheartedly!

        “if what we have today doesn’t match that template” – for too long we have excused trendiness and ambivalence in the professing church, by teaching the Book of Acts as “transitional”.

        It is NOT; though a few specific elements are unique, the majority of the Book is “template” for the Church Age – we have slipped a long way from the pattern!

      • Joseph has made many great points, and very well expressed too. I really have nothing to add to them, simply that I agree wholeheartedly. I stand by my original statement though, which is that it seems a shame for a body of good/great songs to be lost or otherwise put aside for fear of their being misused.

      • SGF, I would agree totally with that also!

        “the unlearned and unstable wrestle…to their own destruction” – if Peter spoke that of the Scriptures [2Peter 3:16], how much more so of hymnology.

  8. Lyrically, this song is little if any different than Avalon’s “Orphans of God…”

    “Come as you are” is the central theme of Christ’s evangelism. Or I suppose “drop your nets and follow me” means shave, take a bath, get a hair cut, put on your best synagogue robe and then follow me. You have a valid point about not staying as you are after you’ve come to Jesus, but I never really got that King meant that there doesn’t have to be a change in his lyrics. I think perhaps too much emphasis is being placed on the phrase. Actually, I would be inclined to say that you are imposing your feelings on the emergent church movement in to the phrase, which to be fair is your right as an opinion holder; problem is that the literary criticism has to be based on the social context of the writer’s audience and time frame. And as Unthank pointed out, the emergent movement hadn’t taken root in America at the time this song was composed (
    Thus, I highly doubt that that church mentality would have played a role in composition or how King thought his audience would interpret his lyrics.

    So, I’d say that the song (not really all that great, IMHO) could find a home in SG…maybe the Crist Family?

    BTW, don’t be hating on Smitty ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’d certainly rather hear him sing than some of the prominent SG artists…ahem…Peg and the McKameys…

    • Nick, but part of my whole point in the comments is that I’ve been hearing seeker-sensitive churches use it for my whole life. It’s not just an Emergent phrase – churches along the lines of Hybels’ Willow Creek (whether they did specifically or not) have been using that as a catchphrase for longer than the last few years.

      • Daniel, fair enough on the movement point. Nonwithstanding, I think we’re on the verge of “debating how many angels can stand on the head of a stick pin” with the whole “come as you are”

        I understand why it gives you pause, coming from your background. Given the way the lyric is used and the overarching theme of the song, I still think that we’re neglecting the merits of the song because your projecting your concern with how some may interpret said phrase. Based upon the column and your responses, I’d judge you to be in the group that interpets his song to mean “come as your and STAY that way” (could be wrong…) and that’s fine too. I have a suggestion however…as a songwriter myself, I do like to leave a little room for audience interpretation, but at the end of the day, only I know what I really meant or what I’m trying to communicate with a phrase or whole lyric. I dont know how possible this is, but why not try to reach out to King and see what he meany with that line? Based on your comments I would say you’d be more comfortable with the song if you knew it didn’t carry that connotation, yes?

      • Meant not meany….iPhone is doing it’s best to circumvent my English degree ๐Ÿ˜‰