Monday, September 21, 2009

#98 "People Need The Lord"


If you went to church during the '80s then you've probably heard this tender treat. This is often sung by the congregation during the altar call. The rest of the time it's performed as a solo by your friend's mom who chokes up in the middle of it and then struggles to compose herself while the backing track continues to play over the loudspeakers.

64 comments:

kmagee said...

Except they really don't.

Some people are better off without him. I've met them.

Anonymous said...

Haha. So true. Though all "special music" ,as referred to at my childhood churches, makes me break into a cold sweat.

Just in case people aren't familiar with it...
Special Music= dated song (usually on cassette tape), excessive vibrato, plenty of "glory hand", and highschoolers trying not to make eye contact with each other (so as not to break out in uncontollable giggling, thus garnering looks of disapproval from parents).

Trev said...

I'm unfamiliar with this one.

The Nerd said...

Oh wow, this takes me back. "Special music" was a huge part of the morning service routine at the church of my childhood. I even participated a couple times. I can't say I was any better than anyone else, but the old church ladies always loved to cluck over how cute I could be on stage. Thanks for helping me recover these all-but-lost memories. :P

Peter T Chattaway said...

This would be the Steve Green song, I assume?

Sarah said...

I am unfamiliar with this particular song as well...although the special music ritual is certainly painfully familiar. There's rarely much about it that could be termed special; it generally doesn't reach beyond embarrassing. (Ties in to Christian culture's penchant for equating passion with talent. People like to cite "make a joyful NOISE unto the Lord," but what they really mean is "dole out awkward torture for the Lord.")

my girl hazel said...

UGH. I'm pretty sure I sang this song as a duet with a dude from youth group...

Rebecca said...

Intense sincerity + heavy vibrato + slightly off-pitch = youth-pew-laughter-suppressing-shaking

I remember church solos with canned music. 'Twas de rigueur.

Ann said...

I looked this one up on youtube. WOW, hilarious. Also, semi-related, today I woke up with Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" stuck in my head.

sharyn said...

At my church, this song was *always* accompanied by a "drama" skit that was acted out during the song. It typically featured a homeless person coming to Jesus, a stressed business man coming to Jesus, an alcoholic coming to Jesus...well, you get the idea.

Kristy said...

As soon as I read this post title, that song started playing in my head. This song goes hand in hand with an opportunity to come to the front of the church and renew your relationship with Christ, or get saved.

The Thief said...

Gah. "special" music. I shudder to even type that. And then the pastor has to pretend that he is thankful that the person "shared" that "treat" while really I am (I mean "the pastor is") trying to get the taste of bile out of my (I mean "his") mouth.

Ufghanistan said...

Thanks for commenting on my David Bazan post. I'm a big fan of this site. So much of it rings true to my background, including this post. Keep up the great work!

ChristianJamison said...

you need to do a post on the end times or the rapture or the antichrist or something. Christians love that stuff. Or you could do one on capitalizing words that are associated with god. like His, Father, God, He, You etc. (I love your blog I'm a former charismatic/evangelical pastor and apologist. I'd consider myself a pro on this shiz as well)

keep up the good work.

In His Grace
-Xian

The Mrs. said...

Awesome... lol. This brings back memories for sure!

jaigner said...

Yeah...at the end of broken dreams, he's the open door...sappy, non-theological crap. I still remember Steve Green at my church when I grew up.

Totally remember the little drama skits done to this song. Just so lame.

massminuteman said...

an alcoholic coming to Jesus...well, you get the idea.

There's a sad lot of similarity and affinity between alcoholism and Churchianity. Jesus® serves as a replacement drug for a lot of folks.

Jay said...

This also brings nostalgic memories of altar calls. In the ackward moments after the "special music" the pastor will issue an altar call asking all of those who aren't "saved" to "COME ON DOWN".

Then so as not to have a poor showing(because most of the people in the church are 20 year members and/or have been saved multiple times in the past month) he will issue a general altar call that is so encompassing that to not go down to the front either means you are asleep, your hearing aid is turned off, or you are possessed by an evil spirit and most likely voted for Obama.

Such calls can be, but are not limited to..."if you would like to renew your commitment", "if you are struggling with sin","or if you went a little to much over the speed limit on the way to church"

During this time the piano player and a lady with a big hairdo will be repeating the chorus of the "special music" to set the mood.

Mel T said...

At my church it was "People Need the Gourd."

At first this was too ascetic, but we started running a Three Stooges movie behind the self-gourd-flagellating backup singers.

No, it really helped.

Still Breathing said...

OMG (literally). I just made the mistake of listening to it on You Tube and it sums up all that can be bad in Christian music - poor tune and poor lyrics. apart from that it's OK.

Becca said...

"People need the Lord, People need the Lord, At the end of broken dreams, he's an open door... "

If we have Jesus our dreams will never be broken, because He is our only dream, and he isn't breakable?

I would also like to know where this open door leads? Heaven. Obviously. But if that is the case, then shouldn't the song just say "People need Heaven"?

Would I really need Heaven if God hadn't gone and created Hell? Silly God, what did you do that for?

oh well.. "I will sing unto the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and rider fell into the sea..." clap clap.

Raven said...

Ha ha! In my church it was some song called "Special Delivery". That's from the 70s, though, I'm old.
And thanks, now Amy Grant's El Shaddai is STUCK IN MY HEAD!

Mel T said...

Well, Raven, just tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree!

Sarah said...

@Becca:

"The Lord my God, my strength, my song, is now become my victory..." (Awkward falsettos and faltering clapping here.)

Holy CRAP, I completely forgot that clapped-out 70s/80s psalm until I read your comment, and then the whole thing spun itself out in my head like I was four and my parents' church was still meeting in the local YMCA.

Did your church try to end it on a perfectly coordinated two-beat cymbal clash?

heather said...

how about: "Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad that you gave...." - often sung on volunteer appreciation Sundays, or weekends when missionaries were in town. There was the line about the pictures of the African orphans making someone cry. Touching!

Benjamin Ady said...

arghhh. heather--did you have to? Wasn't the first one enough for this post? =)

MonkeyShines said...

Dear Stephy,

I love the blog, but I can't understand how you could do a blog about American Christian Culture for nearly two years without even once mentioning the sublime Jack T. Chick.

David Rudel said...

The thing...this blog is normally about items in Christian culture that really have very little to do with Christ.

However, as unsophisticated as this music might be, I don't think you can make a case for general idea having nothing to do with Christ.

stephy said...

I might be able to but it might be
unsophisticated.

Mark (under construction) said...

Hey!!! I went to the church in the eighties!!! Christian culture then was cool ... indeed, it was - we had a Galilean Service - I was Jesus once!!! Due to my lifestyle it became unwise for me to be Him. Well, actually the new Jesus looked more like Jesus than me, his eyes were bluer than mine and his hair was blonder.

We sang - "no you can't get to heaven", I've always thought since they don't write great songs like that any more.

Rollo Tomassi said...

Steph, as a recent fan of your blog, and a designer myself, I think I should also point out the latest CC fetish I'm constantly seeing,..

Christian Culture likes the Bleeding Cowboys font!

Apparently some designer somewhere slipped and made CC aware of the DA Font.com site

Curse you,...

Erik said...

I dunno, I've always had a soft spot for Steve Green's music; I was a lone "Christian nerd," when I was in high school in the 80's (and wishing I had a Christian girlfriend, or just a few friends that I could connect with)....and believe it or not, his was the first concert of any form (outside of a classical music concert). I went to on my own to see him at a church in Denver (Cherry Hills Community, when it was on Hampden Ave); I drove out there, and then drove home. His voice really filled the sanctuary/auditorium.

So, I don't think I can chuckle at this one. Sappy and sometimes out of tune, yes, but there was worse.

Mel T said...

Yes, we can always chuckle at Keith Green.

Anonymous said...

The man who wrote "Thank You for giving to the Lord" blahblah was Ray Boltz. Who is now an open homosexual. Ha!

ben parsons said...

i always ended up trying really hard to think of something that i "needed prayer for" so that i could go forward during the altar call thing... unless i was visiting somebody else's church, in which case my clothing/dreads would lead some older gentleman to assume that i had just wandered in off the street in search of answers. I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS!! I'M AN AMERICAN CHRISTIAN!! GET OUT OF MY FACE OLD MAN.

The Lead Heretic said...

Just stumbled across your blog. Great stuff. I too was part of that culture for a very long time, and yes I remember that song all too well. Nearly makes me sick these days.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered "Thomas Kinkade" as possible category?

Mel T said...

And slobbering on microphones.

Tor Hershman said...

This lill' YouTube number always chokes, ahhhhhhhhhh...I mean CRACKS me up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m6qC6FCiY0

mikespeir said...

I wonder why they never sing a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" at altar calls. Why, that's a fine old Christian hymn! Could it have something to do with the fact that it's emotional manipulation that gets people to the altar and not "the Spirit"? WTSGMI just doesn't engender the right emotion.

Anonymous said...

Is that when everyone claps and gives a hearty "amen"?

Yeah, I remember those. Too bad we didn't have Simon Cowell in those days.

Andrew said...

Haha.. we laugh at Christian culture in America, and I'm not sure if that is the right response... the actual response should be weeping. The church here is freakin' messed up. People take a real truth, like the fact that people DO need the Lord, and use it for emotional manipulation. So, the truth is destroyed, because now no one will heed it, since they only see it as manipulative. I kid you not, God is going to judge the church in America, and it is going to be terrible, awful, beyond imagination. First will come restrictions from the government, then will come anger against "Christians", and in the end, blood will run in the streets. No one will be laughing then. Even the mockers the will tremble.

Mel T said...

"it is going to be terrible, awful, beyond imagination."

Now that's what Christians like!

Mel T said...

BTW Andrew, some of us will still be laughing. At you.

Andrew said...

You know, Mel, you just might be right. The ones afflicting the church will indeed be laughing... for a season.

stephy said...

You had to know that was coming, Mel.

Mel T said...

'Tis the season.

Nelson1960 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Andrew, sometimes I think those of your ilk wish for it to happen. You all talk about it enough...about how persecuted you are. It's really quite insane.

Nelson said...

Stephy where do you feel you are at now; do you and your husband still go to church? Do you still consider yourself to be a Christian You obviously have a very close connection to the Christian community because you know so much about it; I was just wondering if you were still taking an active role in a church.
I am a former church goer and I would like to go back someday but not too soon.

Mel T said...

Yes, and while you're at it, tell us which personal query is the all time leader in filling you with fear and loathing.

stephy said...

heh...yeah, I don't like to answer that question here because it's not a great forum for it. But as far as Mel's question, when people ask me "how's your walk?" my heart swells with joy.

Lida said...

Rather than pointing out various things of Christian culture (including some that I'm not sure are even "bad"), is it possible for you to focus more on Christ? Sure, what you're writing about now gives more laughing material for non-Christians, but it doesn't really help Christians... well, in my opinion anyway... thanks!

and I agree with Andrew... we do need to pray for the Church.

Lida said...

Oops! sorry, didn't mean to comment twice. Once I noticed the other post wasn't the most recent one, I didn't think you would check it for comments, so I reposted on this one. No need to reply again!

Thanks for replying on the other one, though =)

Mel T said...

Lida,

I was working all night in my office
when a man i had recently killed
called me up from the phone near my building
so i looked out the window at him
he had the same obsequious manner
that was the reason i had him killed
so to calm my nerves i sang this song to him
over the phone:
turn around, turn around!
there's a thing there that can be found
turn around, turn around!
it's a human skull on the ground
human skull
on the ground
turn around!

They Might Be Giants
"Turn Around"
Apollo 18

Flahdagal said...

Lida, a lot of us here are Christians, and we need the laugh. So many of the trappings of Christianity are so very very cheesy, or so very illogical, or even embarrassing. In my opinion? God is LHBO (shout out, Stephy!) at a lot of our antics.

Still Breathing said...

Trying to post again - don't know what happened last time.

Lida, Whilst Stephy is looking at one aspect of American Christian culture we have similar, but different, problems here in the UK. In both cases we have muddled the social values of Christendom with what it means to live a Spirit filled life bringing about the Kingdom of God.
I think Jesus had a similar go a 1st century Jewish culture: have you heard the one about a man with a plank in his eye?

Mel T said...

"...what it means to live a Spirit filled life bringing about the Kingdom of God."

Want to learn more? See post #15, "Dry Humping."

George said...

Hi Stephy,

With Christmas not far away, how about a post on "Getting hysterical whenever someone says 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Happy Christmas', or uses 'Xmas' as an abbreviation for Christmas"?

Mel T said...

Or goes on a Christmas killing spree at the mall.

WFL said...

New topic recommendation: "I'll Pray For You."

Kim said...

Hello
Hey I also agree that it reminds me my earlier time when I was child.Thank you for sharing this with us.It makes me happy,to remember that memories of mine.

glucosamine

Mel T said...

I, too, have been reminded of my earlier time when I was glucosamine.

Bill said...

Goddammit, I haven't had this song stuck in my head in probably 20 years UNTIL NOW!!

Thanks Stephanie. THANKS A LOT!

:D