Shout to the Lord (Angry)

Image:Eric Drooker

We started Urban Seed: church last night. Our first song was “Shout to the Lord” (Angry version) which used the original Hillsong version alongside some new lyrics I wrote…..see Call to Worship and lyrics below.

Shout to the Lord: Worship and Dissonance

If a single song captured the culture of modern worship movement it is “Shout to the Lord.” Written by the award winning Darlene Zschech from the hugely successful Hillsong Church in Sydney, the song picks up the powerful and majestic themes and images of Psalm 95-100. Its uplifting nature has seen it become a well known hit, inspiring Christian’s in worship literally all over the world.
The Psalms are the song book of the bible that poetically capture the depth and breadth of human experience in relation to God. Reading or singing them often makes me think of the word dissonance.
The dictionary describes dissonance as “harsh toned, unharmonius, discord or disagreement, especially of sounds”. It can describe a feeling of clashing or incongruence.
I have often felt this dissonance singing this song.
This is usually nothing to do with the music…Hillsong usually inspire excellence. But more because many times when I walk into a church on Sunday after a hard week with all its problems and difficulties, usually the last thing I feel like doing is shouting to the Lord in the manner of this song.
So when the band strikes up, with the words,the big chords, the smiling worship leader and the big crowd creating the anthem vibe…. I feel the clash. What am I doing here again?
Of course dissonance can be profoundly creative. Just listen to some good improv. jazz. The uplifting worship dynamic can often drag me up, out of depression, lifting me out of what I am feeling. I have often felt the same at a well run Christian funeral where in the face of death life is truly celebrated, or when you experience a moment of pure joy in the midst of great suffering.
Some believe this dissonance is at the heart of Christian spirituality and explains much of the success of early believers who audaciously worshiped a crucified Lord in the midst of Roman oppression. It’s is true today in the incredible progress and spirituality of the church which is strongest in places of extreme poverty and oppression such as Africa and Asia. The dissonance of gospel worship proclaims resurrection that brings hope in the grounds of despair.
Sometimes dissonance is not healthy however. It can stop us from being honest or seeing a reality that is disturbing. When confronted with a reality that doesn’t match our beliefs there is a temptation to change, to fit our preferred reality even if it doesn’t make sense. To live in denial, to justify an abusive situation, to think one way but act another, to live a lie.
Sometimes the dissonance of this song comes from the fact that Hillsong does not seem a church in the midst of suffering but promoters of culture that sees the gospel only in terms of success health and wealth.
Urban Seed has sought to challenge the ways in which the gospel can quite subtly be turned into a message of personal prosperity. At times this has been a public conflict like over Brian Houston’s book “You need more money”. But it has also often been privately pastoral for people who have struggled to succeed in the big church scene. Who don’t feel they measure up, or when confronted by the harsh reality of suffering and loss in their lives / world the songs just don’t cut it anymore.
Christian spirituality is more substantial than an emotional “pick me up” or any worship leading method. I thought it an appropriate way to start Urban Seed: church was to re-write some of the words to “Shout to the Lord” that pick up the themes of the other psalms that often don’t get a run in the dominant worship culture of our day; Psalms that acknowledge our failure, as well as the injustice and pain of our world and our own lives. That Shout at as well as to the Lord. (eg. Psalm 88)
I want to sing both versions of the song together. I’ve printed them on the one page so you can take it and stick it somewhere….maybe on your toilet door……perhaps you can keep turning it over depending on how you feel and what you need.
It’s a little awkward singing because I’ve tried to keep my words as close to the words and rhythm of the original in order to keep the connection and create dissonance. As we sing both I hope it creates a clash that may both affirm and challenge you at this point of your journey. Whatever feelings of success or failure you bring to this gathering.
Shout to the Lord (Angry)
(Lyrics: Marcus Curnow 2005)
Why Jesus? Why favour
Those who do not like you?
All of my years I cry bitter tears
I wonder where’s your mighty love?
No comfort, No shelter
Where is the refuge and strength?
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to question You
Shout to/(at) the Lord
All the Earth, let us bring
Powerlessness, tragedy
Rail at the King
Mountains fall down
And the seas will roar
Hear the sound of the pain
I long to see the work
Of your hand
Forever I’ll seek you
Seek to understand
Nothing to hold
But the promise I have
In you
Shout to the Lord
(Hillsong Australia 1993)
My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You
Shout to the Lord
All the Earth, let us sing
Power and majesty
Praise to the King
Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work
Of Your hand
Forever I’ll love You
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares
To the promise I have
In You


25 Replies to “Shout to the Lord (Angry)”

  1. Great stuff. If to worship God is to devote your whole life to God, then surely the crap (and the struggle to overcome it) that infests our lives is also part of that worship as well. God doesn’t mind anger, JC got angry loads of times, the main thing is to find ways of expressing it that are productive… Way to go Marx

  2. Great words Marcus, really taps into an element of songs that we don’t explore enough.
    I’d be interested to know how the song went over with the church. Did they start singing the original lyrics?

  3. thanks marcus. now that song has more skin and breath and blood and sinuew….and more of david’s psalm-voice.

  4. In answer to the question did the church start singing original lyrics….. Punters had a sheet with the original and my lyrics on alternate sides (also the images above.) After I’d done the opening blurb we sang the original first and then flowed immediately into my version. People generally liked it. My dissonance intro. helped some for whom it may have been a struggle. The different words take a bit of time to flow/fit with the music because you’re so used to singing it one way, so I probably should have sung it a couple of times so ppl. had a better chance of getting it.

  5. i loved the new lyrics marcus…
    any of the seedies coming over to the “school of discipleship” this year during the june long weekend?
    a few of you guys came up last year, wasnt sure if any were coming up this year…

  6. Marx, finally got a chance to see the lyrics to your version and I love them – though I bet that doesn’t surprise you in the slightest?! I hear the psalms of David, rather than the sound of Darlene, and I am inspired to keep on even when life feels like crap. How easily the church in general seems to forget that it’s ok to question God, it’s ok to be angry at God, the Bible is full of those stories, but it is not ok to give up – “nothing to hold but the promise I (WE) have in you”. Amen
    P.S: I miss you!

  7. Sorry dont like it. sounds like god has never given you anything…. Didnt god give us life, shouldnt we be thaking him…. why change words to a perfect praise worship song. “isnt about time you start singing new songs???? Hillsong has some new great songs???

  8. So Job-like in its intensity. Marcus is so right. All we have is His promise. I have had some dreadful stuff done to me in my life, and those who did those things seem to go on their happy, apparently blessed way. Why should I believe that I have anything else to hold on to when life is rosy? I have no more and no less than during the tough times – His promise, and nothing else.

  9. Certainly heartfelt, but not nearly as much fun as the rewrite of “Power of Your Love” I have heard (although the original _alternative_ lyrics are lost to time…)
    Hold me close, let Your love surround me.
    Bring me near, draw me to Your side.
    And as I wait, I’ll rise up like the eagle,
    And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
    In the power of Your love
    ©1992, Word Music
    Words and Music by Geoff Bullock
    Hold me close, Jesus, you’re my boyfriend.
    Bring me near, draw me to Your side.
    And as I wait, I’ll rise up like the eagle,
    And I will soar with You, my emotions lead me on
    In the power of this song.

  10. Wow. I love it. We have just begun a new alt worship gathering across the pond near Nashville, Tennessee and I am going to use this for a future gathering. Thank you.
    It amazes/disappoints me that more worship songs are not being written in the style of lament. The book of Psalms is full of them and there are so many hymns that are.
    Shout to the Lord is one of the most powerful worship songs I’ve had the honor of leading. But, as you mentioned, it is sometimes difficult to come to worship and not feel a certain emotional disconnect, wondering, what about all the garbage in my life–in the world. When do we sing about that?
    So, this makes this beautiful song all the more powerful.
    Thank you again.

  11. I don’t really like it. I understand your version…but we can’t always know the big picture…doesn’t matter what we go through as long as we trust God. I would be careful…it says in the bible not to offend the Holy Spirit, and yes though we should be able to express our grief and pain to the Lord…we should do it in a respectful manner. I think the song is disrespectful to our creator. Read Job 1 verses 1-21…and pay special attention to verse 20 & 21. Job was the wealthiest man alive…the Donald Trump of his era. The Lord allowed satan to strip him of everything in his posession…and job couldn’t see the big picture…but read what he says (in verse 20-21 the message) when he find out he lost his posessions:
    “Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped; Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. GOD gives, GOD takes; God’s name be ever blessed.”
    I’m sure your not as wealthy as job, or trump…and you probably don’t have much to show for…but even if you do…IF JOB CAN PRAISE and WORSHIP his Creator…you can too.
    I challenge you to…and see what happens.

  12. Marcus,
    Your lyrics speak to me. They come from an honest, soulful place. They do agonize over the progress of God’s kingdom, like David did. I really like that you have critics of your lyrics here. But they seem to forget that though your lyrics indicate a forgetfulness of some of what God has provided, your lyrics speak from the little honest soul that is in spiritual pain. It’s from that genuine place that true worship begins.
    I resonate with your lyrics from the place in my soul that experienced spiritual pain in the form of manic depression 15 years ago in college. From the pit of depression, I felt the hell of the perception of God’s absence. “My God, my God, why do you forsake me?” I’ve never quite recovered from that pain, and am still on the path to reconciling with God and the church. Just like you speak of in your lyrics, I still seek God. That part of your lyrics is important, just as in David’s psalms, he always looked back to God, after giving his pain up to God.
    – Chris

  13. Thanks so much Chris for the small piece of your story. Very sacred! I appreciate your affirmation and acknowledgement that seeking God in the midst of all this is important. Funnily enough I was at a youth leaders training day this week and the worship band whom I did not know played my version of the song which was a bit full on for me! Its attracted lots of interest and positive feeback, obviously touching a chord that isn’t touched enough in people’s real experience which is important. The blog also makes it public and this has some value but I think we really know this stuff to be real and true in the often private pain of deep personal struggle. Thanks for making some of yours public. It was written with such struggle in mind.
    Much Grace

  14. luv it! its beautiful! shows that seed of hope only found in God through great suffering! its the honest cry of ones soul. 🙂

  15. i love this song. i live in germany and i`m a member of the tensing group there and we play this song every thursday and friday. next year we’ve an festival in denmark and all european tensind groups are coming and then we play this beautiful song everyday. (sorry, i know my english is very bad) good bye

  16. i truly appreciate your honesty in expressing your heart to the Lord. And if we would be honest with our selves, we have ALL been in that place of hopelessness and despair… wondering where God is and why He isn’t rescuing us. But, we can’t see the beginning and the end, and He can. While i believe in being truthful and gut-wrenchingly honest with the Lord, i also believe that there is a time and place for just setting our sights on the Lord and praising Him for who He is in spite of our circumstances and pain.
    So, i think a combo of both kinds of songs is good. Let’s not get lost in our pain and suffering though and end up singing oh poor me songs… and never sing about God’s glory,love, and majesty or the hope that lifing up our eyes off of our pain and onto Him brings.
    Maybe the “pouring out our pain” songs should also include a verse about finding hope in the midst of our pain as we look to God. After all isn’t that what faith is all about? Faith is believing in something that we don’t see happening at the present time. If we could see what we are hoping for, it wouldn’t require faith.
    So, keep opening up your heart and pouring it out to God. Because He does desire truth in the inward parts. But remember to look up in the midst of that and let Him fill your heart and life with hope and the peace in knowing He has everything in His control!! And He is good!!
    Be blessed-

  17. i think it’s not right because if u take whatever tragedy u have u can take to the lord in pray because if the tragedy u have is serious god might answer it right away if u are holy unto him.but u try praying and god will see u through.god bless.

  18. As long as you have that negative attitude towards God and the intention to insult God, you cannot be blessed. Just believe in God. Put all of your faith into God. You’ll see the miracales.
    God asks your faith in Him. Just listen to Him, He’ll bless you. Try it. I have my own experiences. Read the Bible seriously. God will show you the way through Holy Sprit

  19. i love this song so much. it makes me to know that icould worship the lord in every situation. it’s really touching

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