I’m a big fan of lyrical dissonance. Some of my favorite songs employ it very successfully, and I’ve even used it myself in some of my own songs.
What’s lyrical dissonance? It’s when the content of the lyrics don’t match the feel of the song. An upbeat song about suicide or a slow waltz about racing would qualify.
So as a songwriter and a fan of irony, I do enjoy lyrical dissonance. But not in worship songs.
As Michael Mahoney writes in his post “Fitting” Worship Arrangements:
…it works in many cases, bringing an irony to a song that helps drive home the point. But irony has no place in a worship song.
Michael hits on a critical piece of information there: irony and worship don’t mix. Worship should always be sincere, never winking.
The point is, listen to the music and read the lyrics. If there is a disconnect, and you like it, fine. Put it on your iPod. But if you are leading worship, you have a much more important role, and you need to take great care. You are a guide, and you must guide your flock (worship leading is a pastoral role) down the proper path.
Like I said above, I love lyrical dissonance, but I know it doesn’t belong in worship music. Go check out Michael’s full post. Good stuff.