Patty Griffin, Waiting for My Child Part II
December 19, 2010

“Wating for My Child” is musically excellent; a fantastic blend of folk, country and gospel.  The song is delivered with a real personal cracked edge to it.  Patty Griffin’s voice paints the picture without colors, letting raw emotions surface through the tough exterior of a busy and noisy life.  Indulge me a moment longer to flush out why I think it is worth your time to listen to it.


The song is an echo of the story of the prodigal son, written from the perspective of the parent.  I think in this way it is devotional.  For those who know the story, but need it to sink a little deeper, listening to the wrenching sense of loss is a great way to start.  As you do, keep in mind the truth that scripture teaches us.  Though we wander far from God, he waits anxiously for us to run home to him.  There, he will hold us close, kiss our necks and begin the celebration.  Heaven rejoices when the lost are found and when the wayward child comes home.  He will put a ring on your finger, a robe on your back and you will get to share in the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven with Christ.  If you are a Christian, you are God’s son or daughter.  That makes you royalty, which makes you special.  The worth you have is not out of anything you have done, but because God ascribes it to you.  And he never changes his mind.  Once you are his son, you are his son forever.  If you have spent your life running away from God, run home to him.  He is waiting for his child to come home.

Do you feel the truth resonate in this?  I don’t know if Patty believes it, but I do and her song reminds me every time I hear it.   I take even more courage when I remember that the people in the song seem defeated about their lost child.  Especially because I know that God is not powerless and does not feel defeated.  He has never known surprise.  He knows where his children are he knows what drove them there.  In His love, he waits for us to choose him.   Simply awesome.  Feel loved today.  Be encouraged, I know life is hard.  Trust that the Lord is good and he wants the best for his children, including you.

So, what makes a song Christian?  I think there is a better question to ask as you continue to fill your musical library.  Ask instead, “Does this song honor God and fit into one of the categories of Philippians 4:8?”  If you are honest with yourself, this will be fruitful.  You know what kind of music makes you think ungodly thoughts.  You know what bands remind you of that time in your life when you were the prodigal son and could care less about God.  Stay away from those with grim conviction.  The enemy needs only a small wedge to get in your head and create a wide chasm to allow sin free access to your heart.   Never believe the lie that musical is non-spiritual.   It is.  Therefore, listening to it affects you much deeper than that mass of tissue taking up space in your head called a brain.

What makes a song Christian?  It occurs to me that if I am going to blog about Christian music I should come to at least a workable answer.  Here we go, for the purposes of this website.  Christian music is music that is created in an effort to glorify the God of the Bible, either with its lyrical content or musical excellence.  The term Christian music will also have to apply to music that puts itself into that genre or category for the public.  These would be albums found in the “Christian” section of your local CD store.  Are you happy?  I committed myself to an answer.   Of course, as I learn and think further, that is subject to change.


Patty Griffin, Waiting for My Child Part I
December 18, 2010

What makes a song “Christian”?

The easiest answer would be the lyrics.  What do they say, are they about Christian things?  Let’s assume they are.  But what if a popular singer songwriter whose convictions about Christianity are obscure is covering the song?  Is the song still Christian?  Does it matter?  Could it be delivered with the same conviction as an outspoken Christian singer might?

I think this dilemma keeps Patty Griffin’s cover of “Waiting for my Child” so engaging for me.  It appears on her seventh full-length release, Downtown Church.  There is plenty to be read on the blogoshpere about the album, how it was recorded, the song choices, etc.  I want to focus on this one song and deal a little with a tough question, “What makes a song Christian?”

“Waiting for My Child,” is soft, sensitive, and heart breaking.  If you have a child and they’ve wandered at all I’m sure it hits even closer to home.  If you don’t have kids, or in my case they are too little to do much wandering, I think you’ll still feel the emotional pull of this song.  “A letter would mean so much to me.”  It is simple, heart felt and delivered with such a high level of artistry that it flat out choked me up the first time I heard it distraction-free.   But isn’t Patty Griffin a secular artist getting ready to go on tour with Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin?  Yes she is.

So, I guess this is a piece of the answer to my opening question: the art is God’s, even if the singer isn’t or doesn’t know.  He created the music, our ears to hear it and our soul to respond to it.  The correct use of talent honors Him regardless.  The pursuit of beauty is a godly activity.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Therefore a song doesn’t have to be a “Christian” song in order to be praiseworthy.  For example, much classical music has no lyrical content at all and still honors the Lord.  I think our response should be clear.  The Christian should not go fill their mind with ugly junk just because it has the label “Christian” on it.  Also, a Christian should not ignore beauty and excellence simply because it does not have the label “Christian” on it.  But the question I asked isn’t entirely answered there.  Surely it is more complicated than this!  Additional thoughts abound in Part II.