Oceans (Where Feet May Fail): Hillsong

 

In today’s song review I’m going to be digging into one of the sacred cows of modern evangelical culture.  It’s not going to be pretty either.  Also, be advised that this will be just as painful for me as it is for you, I’m ashamed to confess that this song used to be one of my favorites.

 

Verse 1

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand

 

Who exactly is “you” in this verse?  Are we supposed to assume it’s about Jesus?  Why?  Shouldn’t it be up to the author to make it clear who we are worshiping in a worship song?  If I assume this is addressing Jesus, are you saying that you’re Peter walking out on the water?  That’s the best construction I can think of, and that would mean that you’re teaching people to read themselves into the Biblical narrative.

 

Best case scenario is this verse is teaching you to eisegete your life into the Biblical narrative.  Worst case they are singing to Satan.

 

 

Chorus 1

And I will call upon Your Name, and keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine

Verse 2

Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sov’reign hand will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

 

I’m going to be fair and assume that the section above is generally being sung in a Christian context.  There is hopefully a Cross in the background, and the pastor has hopefully preached the gospel at least the christmas or easter prior.  So, best case scenario when the song says “your grace” the singer means it in a sense of the grace of the Triune God.

So, that granted, the problem is that the focus is you not Jesus.  This passage centers around the human struggling with fear, and how a therapeutic deity is comforting them.  We are not really getting a concept of a sinner who deserves the wrath of God being saved by Jesus, who died for them.

The focus isn’t Christ in this song, it’s the sinner.  But  the “sin” part isn’t really addressed either.  To me it just looks like a ballad of  therapeutic deism.  The only passage that this song is bringing to my mind is the following:

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB

 

I’m not saying that this song is quoting that verse or anything.  I’m just saying it comes to mind when I read the lyrics.

 

Bridge 1

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters, where ever You would call me

take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior

Bridge 2

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters, where ever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior

Bridge 3

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters, where ever You would call me

take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior

Tag

I will call upon Your Name, keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace, I am Yours and You are mine

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!!

 

 

THUMBS DOWN

 

What you’re left here with is a song that’s really about yourself.  You are essentially praising yourself in how you got through your struggles in life with a little help from your friend, whoever that might be.  If sung in a Trinitarian context it is fair to assume the singer is addressing it to Jesus.  That doesn’t help though as it can be fairly argued that the writer likely kept it ambiguous to appeal to a wider audience and increase sales.  Which shouldn’t be the goal of Christian doxology and hymnody.

 

Even if we assume it’s about Jesus, we have no concept of sin or his atonement for it.  There is no law, no Gospel, and no Christ.  The song is very pretty but that’s it.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes No
Is this song confessing Biblical theology? X
Is this song centered on God instead of yourself? X
Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable? X
Is there Biblical Gospel in this song? X
Is there Biblical Law in this song? X
Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all? X

 

 

About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
This entry was posted in Armchair Lounge, Christian Music Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Oceans (Where Feet May Fail): Hillsong

  1. Melini Moodley says:

    Agreed, great points raised in this review. We are taught to look at every song the way you have analyzed it here, because songs are a part of worship. This song is all about the singer and not God, so really it is subtle idolatry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clint Adams says:

    My church sings this song regularly. Sounds beautiful, but lyrics are crud.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gerben says:

    In regards to the “me”s in the song, every time a me is noted it is preceded by a you, which you refer to a couple time as the likely the trinitarian God. “Spirit lead me” “You would call me” etc. Even where the “you” is not said it is implied. I would make the case that every I or me in this song is preceded or followed up by a “you” (God). In that sense it is very biblical. I do agree there could be more to this song and leaves much more to be taught. Hopefully when worship leaders/pastors prepare a liturgy they are cognizant of that and therefore choose a balanced number of songs for worship.

    Like

    • ACTheologian says:

      You assume a great deal. For starters I would not simply presume a trinitarian God. This song was made to be sold. I don’t thin a Mormon would object to it for example.

      Also, the me or I is the lead and the deity being worshiped is in a supporting role. That’s how I see it anyways.

      I understand it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside but I think it’s best we just let this one be wrong.

      Like

      • Gerben says:

        I actually didn’t assume anything. I noted that YOU noted the listener would assume a triune God (sorry I said trinitarian). And if the song is sung as part of a worship service then hopefully that aspect is exemplified elsewhere. I agree on the point that this song is lacking in this.
        I don’t see the me or I as in the lead. I do see the deity as being in a supporting role here, supporting in a way that a Christian life is only possible with the support of the Father. The Psalms are full of pleas from the writer that ask for relief and support from God in a similar way.
        Lastly, you don’t understand how this song makes me feel. I have said nothing about that. I was objectively making a case against your review. It sounds like you are not interested in objective remarks.

        Like

      • ACTheologian says:

        Fair enough on the feelings. I assumed that your bar for christian theological content wasn’t absolute zero, and that since this one is a hit in the bapticostal circles you had an emotional attachment to the song.

        The thing is though I’m wondering what your standard is. Do you think having worship songs that are wholly dependent upon the context is the best way to do things?

        I think it’s obvious the central figure of the song is the human and their personal feelings and experiences. The unnamed deity seems to be a backseat. I think that’s self evident but if we are going to disagree there then so be it.

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