Friday, March 30, 2007

Bob Says What I Have Always Wanted to Say About the Song "Above All," by Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc

Worship Matters: Q&A Fridays - Why Don't We Ever Sing This Song?:

Great song overall, but when asked to do it, I've said:

There are a number of things about this song I really like. The melody is enjoyable to sing and easy to remember. It does a great job emphasizing God's sovereign rule over all, and focusing on the sacrifice of Christ. The poetic images are engaging and the harmonic progression is creative. But two parts bother me, both near the end of the song. The first is the line "you took the fall." It seems like an understated way of describing what Jesus did. Not wrong, but not the best. The other problem is the line, "and thought of me above all." I have no question that Jesus loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). But he didn't think of me "above all." Jesus went to the cross to satisfy God's righteous judgment against a sinful humanity. He thought of his Father's holiness, justice, and glory above all. It may seem like a theological nuance, but it's the difference between our faith being man-centered and God-centered. I don't think that's what the writers intended, but I think it could cause some confusion in people's minds. Besides, I think we have other songs that better articulate Jesus died for because he loved us and for his Father's glory. But, thanks for suggesting it, and please let me know if you have any other thoughts!

What Bob left out was that rather odd line about Jesus being "like a rose, trampled on the ground." Whatever that is supposed to communicate, I fear that all it ever brings to my mind is Bette Midler!


  1. "like a rose, trampled on the ground."

    I personally don't find it odd - roses are precious, so is Christ. A rose being trampled is horrible, so was Christ's death. And He was beaten and broken and abandoned, just like a trampled rose.

    At least, that's how I see it.

  2. H.O. -
    You must be too young to remember Bette Middler though! :-)

  3. I'll have to tell you my camp story about this song one time. I had one of those "snot-nosed brat" attitudes about how terrible it was, to the point where I refused to be in the room while it was song... Sigh, so messy...

    It seems like the last couple lines of the chorus (rose onward) are very different from the general tenor of the song.

  4. Yup. We'll credit my age for that one. I honestly don't know if we could credit 'taste' too. ;)

  5. Here's the officla comment from Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc, who wrote the song in question....

    Dear Friend,

    Thanks for your interest in the song ABOVE ALL and your concern about the
    words, meaning, etc......reminds me of the Bereans in the book of Acts
    (Chapter 17 : 10 11).

    The idea of "you thought of me, above all"....refers to "me" or "you"....from
    the text "God so loved the world (You and Me), that he gave (his
    life).........Romans 5 "God demonstrated His love...." Those scriptures
    and many others depict God "demonstrating" his love for us.....There are also
    many psalms that describe in "poetic" language , the passionate love of God
    for His children. There were/are higher purposes in the mind of God.......but
    this particular song, using "poetic license", is focusing on the personal
    aspect of God's love for each person. We've heard Billy Graham say for years
    that "Jesus would have gone to the cross even for one sinner".....

    Your concerns are justified, however, it's hard to spell out "everything" in
    one song. I think that is why it is important to sing many different kinds of
    songs so that we get a balanced view of God's heart and know?

    The main idea behind this ONE song is to convey the paradox of His
    greatness...."Above all powers, etc..." with the fact that He "thought" of us
    (tenderly,compassionately)...above to speak.

    I don't really know what else to say except to say that some things are to be
    taken "literally" and some "figuratively". As this song was being written,
    there was just a sense of his overwhelming love for His children, how a
    parent would perhaps even die for their children if need be. There was no
    greater love than Jesus laying down His life "for His friends" kind of thing.
    Again, forgive the songwriter in me. I tend to think more "figuratively",
    metaphorically while trying to remain as true as possible to the written word
    of God.

    I hope this helps clarify where I'm coming from somewhat. Thanks for caring
    enough about God's word to ask me.

    Finish well,

    Paul & Lenny