We began addressing the topic of profanity in Christian music in a newsletter a couple of weeks ago, and then readers chimed in with their reactions. Here's a more in-depth commentary on the subject.

It was the summer of 2003, and I was midway through one of the most enthralling albums I'd heard in a long time. One I couldn't wait to share with readers, filled with beautiful melodies, varied musical styles, some of the most expressive singing around, and artful lyricism that often touched on the spiritual. It seemed like a shoe-in for our Best Albums of the Year list.

And that's when the f-bomb dropped.

The album was Over the Rhine's double-disc masterpiece Ohio, and the expletive appears in "Changes Come," a powerful and haunting ballad that mournfully prays for the Second Coming:

Jesus come
Turn this world around
Lay my burden down
Bring the whole thing down

It's an apocalyptic petition worthy of Jeremiah, lamenting a fallen world that can only be redeemed and reclaimed by our sovereign Lord. But then lead singer Karin Bergquist expresses her concern about having a baby in a world that's "too [messed] up for any firstborn son"—only, of course, she didn't sing "messed." Of all the word choices, I thought, why did it have to be that word?

Christian Music Today decided to cover Ohio as part of our Glimpses of God series, which features spiritually themed albums that don't necessarily fit traditional parameters of "Christian music." Some readers expressed their frustration, saying that one word should not override the thoughtful content of the album's 21 songs, or the personal beliefs of the artist. (Bergquist and her husband, Linford Detweiler, who make up Over the Rhine, are Christians, but they're not on a Christian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Posted: