It’s pretty easy to turn a love song into a worship song. We’ve all been teasing Contemporary Christian artists for doing so for years. But what about turning an anti-love song? And what about a turning that doesn’t water down the longing for the lover with the bile of cliched romance?
I immediately loved “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars the moment I heard it (even as the video is pretty terrible…sorry for that, unless you enjoy overly-dramatic singing and gratuitous cleavage-shots which, undoubtedly, many do). But I digress. The song’s achy intensity resonates with my aesthetic sensibilities. What I love most is that the yearning of the song is the yearning for an unloved lover. Don’t we all have those in our past…the lover whose touch haunted us long after they left, but who we might never place on the short list of lovers who we actually loved? Or even the yearning for the hint of a lover – a flirtation never consummated but which lingers in our imagination?
In the world of the song, the couple is committed to a life together – whether in memory or in reality remains unclear – without love. And yet the yearning does not waver. If anything, absent love the commitment grows stronger. The song inspires worship because it poses the difficult question: could I continue to choose God absent loving God? And it articulates a powerful answer Continue reading