Have you ever written a song for someone or about someone you cared about and then later on decided that you wanted to change the lyrics and not make it about that person anymore? Not a big deal, right? What if you wrote a song about someone who was special to you but then that person turned out not to be who you thought he/she was, that person devastated you and now you feel the song seems dishonest (not that you wrote the song from a dishonest place), inauthentic; it has become meaningless? Not a problem changing the lyrics, correct? Keep in mind the previous questions, especially the last one and now add to the mix that the lyrics will be changed and the song is now for God. Would this be wrong? Is this treating God as a spiritual sloppy seconds because it didn’t work out the first time with someone else. Am I not giving Him a used song?
Well, this is my dilemma. I guess you could say it is more of a spiritual dilemma. I had written a song for someone I deeply cared about, someone I loved. The song was truly an ode to that person. It turns out that that person hurt me in such a way that it had put doubts about the truth of that person. I had written a song for someone that I may not have really known; someone for whom I had added character value, rather than see him for who he truly was. I found this out in the most hardest and hurtful way. Now I look at the song as being written for a fraud, thus rendering the work fraudulent.
The majority of the music I compose now is about God/Christ. I still write other types of songs that may not be about Christ but are written for the glory of God (lullabies, songs about beauty/nature, instrumental music etc.). Songwriting is very personal for me. I take it seriously and each song is precious. The song I had written for the person has a beautiful melody but now the lyrics ring untrue, the person is untrue. However, by my changing the lyrics am I now saying, “Lord, I wrote this song with my whole heart for X. I’ve had this song for quite some time. Here, let me change the lyrics. It’s now for You.” Am I making the Lord second place? I brought up this question with my friend and brother in Christ, rapper Spoken. He quoted James 4:17
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
He said that if I feel that to change the lyrics would be sin then I must listen to my conscience and not change the lyrics. I guess I would just have to never play the song, maybe bury it. But I am not ready to do that and I’m not sure if I really want to do that. I know that I will never sing those lyrics again or desire to hear those lyrics sung (I’m sounding hurt, aren’t I?). But, I just don’t want to discard the song; I want it to be meaningful and true again.
Spoken also added that he didn’t see a problem with rewriting the lyrics for God. For music is a gift of God, a gift from God, belonging to God, so by rewriting my song for God, I am giving God the honour He so deserves. I am taking what is His and giving it back to Him for His glory. I had never heard that perspective before and it got me thinking about it seriously.
I have been struggling a bit with this and would like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you ever gone through this process in your art, whatever the discipline? What do you think?