American Idol Sings Shout to the Lord

One of the most powerful choral experiences I have ever had was when the choir from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland stopped by BJU and gave an impromptu concert in the student center. I stood right in front of them and heard them sing powerfully and skillfully in a beautiful, challenging arrangement: “Kyrie, eleison! Kyrie, eleison!” I started to cry because so many people my age, headed to hell were crying out, “Lord, have mercy!” without any idea what they were saying. I did try to speak with some afterwards; they stayed only a short time.

Segue: American Idol

I have paid utterly no attention to American Idol except last year when a former fellow student made it to the top 10.

But it hit the blogosphere yesterday that the contestants sang Darlene Zschech’s “Shout to the Lord” on the show. I watched a clip, and it brought the same tears to my eyes that the Polish choir did. The contestants were singing, “My Jesus, my Savior” (actually, they changed “Jesus” to “Shepherd” and then changed it back again for a second rendition). They sang, “Let every breath, all that I am / Never cease to worship You.” They sang, “Forever I’ll love you.” They sang, “All of my days, I want to praise / The wonders of Your mighty love.”

I did a little research in the contestants’ bios, and only one of the eight singing the song laid any claim to Christ—and that contestant’s interests (as might be expected!) were, sadly, very worldly by the best definition of worldly which I know.

Is it cynical for me to wonder whether it is right for Christians to view this positively? Should praise of the God of the universe become a pop standard? I suppose you could say that if Christians don’t praise the Lord enough, He will cause even the rock stars to cry out… But “they honor Me with their lips while their hearts are far from Me!”

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. dtjohnso on April 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Cynical? Hardly.

    Perhaps this applies:
    KJV Exodus 20:7 ¶ Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

  2. James on April 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    How sad. I grew up in a church where that type of music was typical platform performance. I could sing that very song along with the performers. I am uncomfortable hearing sincere believers sing that song, but I am deeply bothered to hear and see God’s glory being commercialized and secularized. We who know the Lord bear the delightful privilege (and weighty responsibility) of accurately displaying God’s unique excellence before the world. May our zeal for glorifying Him never pale beside the show that the world puts on!

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