A Lesson on
Writing Songs for Worship
using the Newsboys’ Song “Like a Lion”
by Shamblin Stone
he Newsboys are incredible song writers! I love their signature chord progressions of not starting a song on the tonic chord. This causes the listener to sub-consciously tune into their songs more attentively, since most of the other songwriters follow the tradition of starting on the “I” (1) chord. Most of the songs the Newsboys write are brilliant in every way – melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, and lyrically.
Recently, however, my eight year old grandson has been wandering around the house singing at the top of his lungs, ”My God’s not dead! He’s surely alive! He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion!.” Noticing the catchy tune and hook of this song, I decided this song could make an awesome praise and worship song, until I examined the verses of the song.
Hymn writers such as Martin Luther and Charles Wesley have declared that there are two main reasons for singing in our corporate worship gatherings. First, singing together is the most powerful expression of corporate worship, according to the Bible, that God has given to His people. Second, singing is the best way for the people of God to learn theology.
Because of these reasons, every worship leader needs to examine every song they lead in their churches according to Biblical theology. Of course, that requires every worship leader to know sound theology. I believe every church should consider sponsoring their worship leaders to take theology courses throughout their tenure as a worship leader. Also, every worship leader should spend as much time in the Word of God as a Pastor.
Before I go any further, please understand that this song written by the Newsboys was written for a movie, and the lyrics were designed to fit the characters of the movie. The lyrics were not written to be sung by a congregation as a worship song. If you use it as a worship song, it clearly declarews weak or wrong theology.
What, then, is Biblically unsound about the Newsboys song “Like a Lion?” What lyrics disqualifies it as a praise and worship song? The questionable lyrics occur in the two verses of the song.
The pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge are very strong lyrically. As a matter of fact, the bridge of this song is in keeping with the prophetic rumblings we are hearing from all over the globe that God is releasing a sound from heaven that is shaking the earth in these days. It is a shaking to bring about revival on the earth. However, both verses have major issues, theologically speaking.
Here is the verse one couplet of this song.
“Let love explode and bring the dead to life,
A love so bold to see a revolution somehow.”
I have no issue with the first line of this verse. I like it very much! The issues I have with the second line are the two words “revolution somehow.”
Although this is a correct use of the word ”revolution,” because this word’s first definition is: “the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one”, most uneducated people will get the wrong idea from this word. I suggest using the word “transformation” instead. Its meaning brings about a clearer image of what is being said.
The message of this verse is a prayer, asking God to explode into our lives with His love in such a way that it brings about change in our world. Although this is a prayer of desperation, it should not be a prayer without hope. Currently the word “somehow” suggests a high level of doubt instead of faith that God can and will do what we are asking. I suggest using the words “right now” instead. These words carry the attitude of faith in God, that He can and will do what we are asking.
Here is the verse two couplet of this song.
“Let hope arise and make the darkness hide
My faith is dead, I need a resurrection somehow”
Again, the first line of this verse is brilliant! Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). However, it is impossible to have faith without hope (Heb. 11:1). This first line supports these theological concepts. However, there is nothing Biblical about the second line of the second verse. Every one of us has been given a “measure” of faith by God, according to the Bible. God does not give us death! Our faith is not dead, therefore it does not need to be resurrected. It needs to be mixed with hope, according to the Bible.
The entire second line of the second verse needs to be rewritten in order to make it acceptable theology for the people of God to sing. I suggest you borrow the second line from the first verse, and simply insert the word “hope” for the word “love.” Hat swould make the second verse go like this.
“Let hope arise and make the darkness hide
A hope so bold to see a transformation right now.”
My point is, this Newsboys song should have two versions, one for the movie, and one to sing in church.
 Webster’s Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revolution