Songs of Lament
For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with minor keys. I came out of the womb enveloped in them. I imagine my soul connecting to each tendril, as I lose myself in melancholy.
I have always written my own songs, but when I finally recognized the beauty of God’s Word, I realized that some of those words found their pairing with the minor keys that so inflamed in my heart, seeking to be consoled. God’s Word showed me, in effect, that it was okay to be sad.
Initially, I didn’t even know that what I was doing was creating lament songs. When asked what kind of music I write, I would always say, “Sad stuff. If you heard it, you’d want to kill yourself.” Many of you who know me will likely nod their heads, remembering that exact response. I’ve spent a long time sitting with these songs, believing that there wasn’t a place for them.
As I’ve come to learn, lament expresses sorrow. It tells the truth about a circumstance no matter how wrong or unjust it is. My friend Davis Evans says, “Lament is the bedrock of faith. It is the cry for when the going gets tough. We need our hearts and minds shaped by the Man of Sorrows, the suffering King, the God who weeps with and for us, and the Spirit who intercedes and cries out for us. How can we not have a voice for distress, trials, suffering, and dark nights (days, months, years) of the soul? We need lament.” How right he is.
I would take this one step further and say that lament can bring about healing to parts of our soul that only the Healer of our soul can touch. King David knew this, as the man after God’s own heart. Think about that: God’s heart was pursued by David. And God gave us that evidence in David’s own psalms and laments. Remember, too, the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk. Isolated and alone, they revealed the Lord’s will and exposed suffering and injustice for subsequent generations to see.
Lament is being honest and vulnerable; it is opening oneself to healing, correction, and solace; and it is something that deserves a central place in our worship services. Not all of us have a present pressing burden, but I can guarantee you there are plenty of men and women in your church on a given Sunday who do. If we are to bear one another’s burdens, as Paul says, wouldn’t that include singing lament songs during worship in support of those who truly need to lament?
I have the opportunity to create a full-length lament album for the church—songs could be used for corporate worship or for private devotion. Most of the words are taken directly from Scripture, the words of the prophets Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and David. The church herself is responsible for this prompting. After a very intense Bible study on the book of Habakkuk, God poured out music to the Scripture that compelled me to memorize it—and to record it.