Contemporary Christian Music Rips Off Hymns Whatever happened to the "new song" of CCM?

Modern music trends have been pointed downhill for many decades. Rock, rap, ect. have been born out of a spirit of rebellion. Unfortunately, this wordiness has crept into the churches via “Christian” rock and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). (CCM, while not as bad as Christian rock, tends to have fluffy, anointed, unscriptural lyrics.) However, I have noticed another sad trend of CCM. CCM writers, lacking the anointing to write real spiritual music, “…songs and hymns and spiritual songs…” (Eph 5:19) are now ripping off the great hymns of the faith. CCM, being unable to produce anointed music, has now turned to defiling anointed music. Hymns are being modernized, and given contemporary elements, such as drumbeats, as evident in some cheap hymn collections that I possess. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. CCM is now taking hymns and gutting them, adding modern choruses, replacing the melody, and changing the words.

If this sounds absurd, here are a few examples. A couple years ago, I came across “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust, a CCM song that I actually liked. The lyrics carried an anointing, and the music was (marginally) acceptable. I decided to get the CD with the piece, thinking that the rest of the artist’s music would possess the same anointing. To my shock and surprise, it did not. The rest of the music on the CD paled in comparison to “My Savior My God,” the song that I had wanted. Then, I discovered that the lyrics for “My Savior My God” had been taken from a hymn entitled “I Am Not Skilled to Understand.” Compare the lyrics below:

I Am Not Skilled to Understand

I am not skilled to understand
What God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know that at His right hand
Is One Who is my Savior!

I take Him at His word indeed;
“Christ died for sinners”—this I read;
For in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Savior!

That He should leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die,
You count it strange? So once did I,
Before I knew my Savior!

And oh, that He fulfilled may see
The travail of His soul in me,
And with His work contented be,
As I with my dear Savior!

Yea, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this Spring;
That He Who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior!

My Savior My God

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

Chorus (2x’s)

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

Chorus (2x’s)

Chorus: (2x’s)

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior loves, My Savior lives

Shust even admitted plagiarizing the hymn and replacing it’s original melody:

I was reading my “One Year Book of Hymns” and stumbled across a hymn entitled “I Am Not Skilled to Understand” whose words blew me away. I didn’t bother searching for the melody; its obscurity indicated antiquity. So I started from scratch…

– CD Insert, Aaron Shust, Anything Worth Saying

While Shust’s music isn’t as bad as some that I’ve heard, it shows that CCM artists are modernizing hymns as they are having trouble producing anointed music of their own. This is seen in Shust’s music by comparing “My Savior My God” with the rest of the music on this album.

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is a majestic old hymn. CCM artist Chris Tomlin has taken this hymn and tacked on an upbeat, contemporary chorus, while leaving the original lyrics intact. However, he did modernize the melody with an added drumbeat. He released it as “The Wonderful Cross.” When I heard this piece in person, there was a glaring difference between the traditional hymn and the added chorus. The chorus is faster, it lacks the majesty of the hymn, and just does not fit in. You can hear the alterations here. User discretion advised. Here the original here.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

The Wonderful Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Chorus:

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my al

Amazing Grace has been described as the anthem hymn of the Christian faith. However, CCM artist Todd Agnew has taken great liberty to alter this hymn to produce his hit, Grace Like Rain. This piece modernizes some of the words, and adds a chorus. However, the worst part is the melody. The original uplifting melody has been scrapped and replaced with one that is dull and melancholy. This modern counterfeit sounds horrible. In my opinion, Grace Like Rain is a horrible butchery of Amazing Grace. You have to hear this to believe it. Hear the counterfeit. Warning: user discretion advised. Hear the original Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Grace Like Rain

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see so clearly

Chorus:
Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Chorus

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing Your praise
Than when we first begun

Chorus

Chorus

Contemporary Christian Music artists, having adopted worldly music styles, are having trouble producing music that is truly Spirit-filled. To make up for the lack of anointing, they have turned to the old hymns of the faith, stolen their lyrics, and replaced the traditional tunes with contemporary ones. “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Prov 22:28). The landmark hymns need to be restored, not removed. There is an ongoing movement to bring back the old hymns, and produce new ones. But turning hymns into CCM is not acceptable.

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Updated: February 24, 2015 — 1:30 AM