Friday, December 16, 2005

"Music Inspired by Narnia..."
...CCMI, pretending to be mainstream

"Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." -Psalm 96:1-6

I haven't commented on any CCM product since beginning this blog, but this was too much to resist. You might call it: a "turkish delight."

Whenever you see at the top of a mainstream packaged CD the phrase, "Music Inspired by ____", featuring only CCM artists (i.e. "The Passion of the Christ") that is code for: we're not good enough to get a song in the movie ourselves, but because of the religious tones associated with the movie we are going to release our own product as if it looked like it is part of the movie. IOW's, it is CCM pretending to be mainstream.

This is a compilation CD by some of Christian music's current "A" and "B" list of artists. I like several of these artists in their own right personally. SCC, Nichole Nordeman, TobyMac, Jars of Clay (easily the best name for a Christian band) are very gifted, talented artists and songwriters. But this "Music Inspired by Narnia" CD unfortunately falls short. The songs for the most part are very average, formula sounding at best (except for the 1970's SNF throw back of The David Crowder* Band's song). This is what happens when the CCM industry wants to capitalize on the popularity of a mainstream movie, but aren't talented enough to get a song of their own featured in the film, but still want to be identified with the movie and ride its coattails to garner some increased mainstream sales and attention. EMI Christian (the record company name that perfectly represents 2 Cor. 6:14-18) is the label behind the project. This is just "opportunism 101" and will be very short-lived. (This CD is what is known as an impulse holiday buy. If you're thinking about purchasing it, wait another month or so and you'll find it at Wal-Mart or Target at really reduced prices).

But if you listen to this CD several times as I have had too, there are two things that come roaring out at you (no pun intended): 1. The songs are not consistent with the tone of the movie - this is a children's whimsical fairy-tale which the music of "Inspired..." doesn't even reflect; and 2.Tthe songs don't "fit" or hang together at all. You are taken through so many genres so quickly and poorly, that it leaves you feeling like "winter will never end." This CD needed a great producer in a significant way. My personal choice? Only one: Michael Omartian. He would have been the perfect producer for this entire project. He is the consummate combination of keyboard extraordinaire/arranger/producer/songwriter; a devout and dedicated Christian; and actually cares for the power and character of the music, not just for the commerciality of the music. He has had major hit records in country, pop, jazz, R&B and CCM spanning over thirty years.

If I was adding a third reason to the list above it would be that none of these "Inspired..." songs artistically comes close to the standard of Alanis Morissette's performance of "Wunderkind" which was played at the end of the movie while credits were rolling. If Christian artists can't write and perform with the "winsomeness, truth and majesty" that a film like this demands... than who can? What a wasted opportunity.

It is very disheartening that the continued thirst for commercial success accompanied by the desire for mainstream acceptance and recognition by the CCMI within the pop culture, doesn't include an equal thirst to use any platform given to communicate the gospel clearly without compromise, exalt the person of Jesus Christ, and speak accurately from a biblical world-view. If that sounds like an indictment it is meant to be and it is not without merit. The biblical message seems always the last consideration in CCM; and it was obviously done here.

This post is not designed, nor meant to be, a song by song critique of the "Inspired..." CD. Frankly, it's not worth the time nor the space. It is however designed to encourage you to be faithful Bereans (Acts 17:9-11), not just with Lewis's story, but with the spinoff projects like this one that are being marketed to the believers as "Christianly." I would encourage you not to buy the entire CD--you will be very disappointed. BUT, if you so fancy, you can go to iTUNES and listen to 30 second clips of each song for free. You then can buy one song at a time if you so desire. Music is such a great tool to be used for the Lord, for His glory to proclaim His truth and gospel. Too bad the music it wasn't used here for that purpose.

On a personal closing note, does anyone remember when EMI Christian was called Sparrow Records and had ministry artists like Michael Card, Keith Green, Second Chapter of Acts, Barry McGuire, Jamie Owens Collins, Phil Keaggy, etc.? (yours truly did nine CD's for them as well). I miss those days where ministry was thought of first and industry was a distant second.

I think Narnia misses those days also.

Having more fun than a Reformed Baptist should be allowed too,
Psalm 119:54


Calvinist Gadfly said...

Steve, thanks for your insight into the CCM's doings on this.

Preach it brother --->

"It is very disheartening that the continued thirst for commercial success accompanied by the desire for mainstream acceptance and recognition by the CCMI within the pop culture, doesn't include an equal thirst to use any platform given to communicate the gospel clearly without compromise, exalt the person of Jesus Christ, and speak accurately from a biblical world-view."

your brother in Christ

Charles Sebold said...

I bought 2nd Chapter of Acts' The Roar of Love via iTunes for the kids, and they love it. It's not exactly the height of worshipful theology but it's pretty clear Who the Lion really is.

Denise said...

If I admit to remembering those artists of yesteryear, does that make me old? =P

Back in the late 70's early 80's,(when I was in the Charismatic movement still),I went to several of the Saturday Night Concerts at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. I had asked one of their pastors, Randy, if they could get 2 Chapter of Acts. His reply, although carefully said, was that they were just too expensive to have there to play (it was meant as a reach-out night).

Was that a sign of things to come?

Douglas said...

I remember when Winkie Pratney and Barry McGuire did a thing in Christchurch New Zealand's Cathedral Square one summer time in the early eighties and it was awesome! Barry sung first, songs like Gypsy Dolphin, Take This Bread and Remember Me and others and the Square had thousands of people milling around but as soon as Barry started to sing it went an unearthly quiet and you could have heard a pin drop between songs. The same happened when Winkie began to preach. I will never forget that moment, it was like a time warp into another world. I was only a Christian of a year or two at the time. I still have Barry's records from then. I have records of others you mention including Keith Green's records from when he was still alive and you got them for free, even here in New Zealand they used to send them for free as well.

littlegal_66 said...

;-) Thanks, Steve!! :-)


littlegal_66 said...

Okay, you guys didn't really think I could make a two-word post and leave it at that, did you?

I guess Disney has been trying to seduce EMI-Christian for some time. Looks like they finally consented with, "Your place or mine?" (Sorry--my restraint just went out the window). Here's a quote from the NY Times article on this topic, as it was reprinted on ( "Coinciding with 'Narnia,' in which EMI is aiming to reach as far as possible into the mainstream, Disney has moved to target the Christian audience. Earlier this year, Disney signed a deal in which EMI - the biggest label in the Christian genre - will distribute recordings like 'Baby Einstein' and 'Winnie the Pooh' to Christian retailers, the company's first such arrangement."

From Narnia to Pooh Corner--I can only imagine where this could end up--is there a children's devotional book based on the works of A.A. Milne on the horizon? The Gospel According to Pooh-Bear........and all this time, I thought he was a "bear of little brain........"

Oh well, I suppose if one can find Taoism within the hundred acre wood and pen the book, "The Tao of Pooh," surely someone could find something biblical in the forest, as well.
(Sigh....anyone know the emoticon for rolling your eyes?)

Nathan White said...


I share your concern, but I have one question about this statement:

You said: “doesn't include an equal thirst to use any platform given to communicate the gospel clearly without compromise, exalt the person of Jesus Christ, and speak accurately from a biblical world-view.”

What does this have to do with the tone being “consistent with the tone of the movie”, having the songs “"fit" or hang together”, and performing at the artistic level of Alanis Morissette?

I don’t think your are implying that a song must be on the same artistic level as secular music in order to exalt Jesus Christ, and I share your disdain for this album which is obviously a poor artistic performance thrown together at the last minute to cash into the latest fad, but I don’t see how critiquing an album from a biblical standpoint has anything to do with the tone, theme, or quality when comparing to secular music. If the message is clear and God-exalting, does it really matter if the artistic quality is lacking? For the message doesn’t need eloquence in order to be effective right?

Although I think we’re on the same page, I was just a little confused by your choosing to specifically critique the quality and style, while generally critiquing the message –as if they had anything to do with each other in relation to the message of the cross having a real effect on the hearers.


Hessel-Man said...

How about a "Songs Inspired by Peter Jackson's King Kong"? I've got a few song ideas that I'm sure someone could throw some shoddy lyrics and poorly constructed melodies together for. Maybe I should be working for EMI... can you put in a good word for me, Steve, or don't they like you? :)

1. Aping the World
2. Bannanas for Jesus
3. The King that's Bigger Than Kong
4. You Take me Higher than the Empire State Building
5. Abiding in and Swinging on the Vine
6. Evangelizing Times Square in K-minor
7. The Love of Monkeys is the Root of all Evil

Sorry... not enough for a whole album, but it could qualify for a trendy EP.

Steve H.

P.S. I do miss the days when Sparrow put out stuff like yours and Keith Green's. May God grant that it might be so again.

Bhedr said...

Our CCM friends forget that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the wise. We weak people need to learn to glory in our weakness instead of trying to cover it up and make it look good. We make ourselves look foolish. Asaph envied the wicked for a season and then saw the foolishness of it.

Tree4life said...

This is my first time to comment on your blog after reading it for some weeks now. I definitly long for the days of back when... check my blog to see why(takes to long here)
What happened that ccmi would go for the dollar instead of the ministry?
Keep up the fight! I been a fan for a long time
Soli Deo Gloria

Steve Weaver said...

Great insights Steve! Thanks for posting them. My friend Jeff Wright posted something on a troubling aspect of the CD theologically. It is from Rebecca St. James line "The Lion is an angel." See this post by clicking here.

Jimmie W. Kersh said...

Mr. Camp,

I am sorry I refer to you as Mr., but heroes in the faith get respect. I remember back in the day when it was only the Imperials, Dallas Holms, Keith Green, 2nd Chapter, Petra and the man who sang at the first concert I ever attended, some guy named Steve Camp.

I have been listening since 1978. I was absolutely convinced that Christian concerts were where the lost came to the concert for the explicit reason of hearing the gospel and becoming a Christian. I always thought that concerts were where God drew the lost to hear Him speak to them.

Those days are back in the day now.

Shawn L said...

Steve H,

That was so great

Dan Edelen said...


Thanks for the post. I do remember the glory days of Sparrow when Hearn had nothing but godly, talented people in his stable of performers.

Maybe you have some insight into this: Why isn't anyone going back into the old masters and releasing digital copies of some of the old 70s and 80s-era CCM catalogs? I know a lot of performers whose music would still bless people today, but you check out iTunes or CD compilations and they're rare or missing entirely. I talk with friends and all of us agree there's a demand there that's going unmet.

Rose~ said...

I hold in my hand a CD by the Second Chapter of Acts called "the Roar of Love ... a Musical Journey into the Wonder of C.S. Lewis' Narnia." It was produced in 1989 and I think I bought it shortly after that, having really enjoyed the book and already having liked the music of SCA. It is a great CD, IMHO. I wonder if it is still available. Have you ever heard it? (Michael Omartian on keyboards.)

cyd said...


Too funny -- especially #7! LOL

SJ Camp said...

The Second Chapter of Acts CD about Narnia (The Roar of the Lion) is REALLY good. Sparrow, I mean, EMI Christian, should re-release it.

Steve H. that is priceless stuff on King Kong. What a great album idea! It could also tie into the whole evolution/creation debate that is going on in the land. What timing...

I have had a few of you ask me about Rebecca St. james's lyric for her song contribution called. "Lion" on this Narnia project. If you hear it, there is a disturbing phrase at the end of the chorus which says, "...the lion is an angel."

A couple of obvious things:
1. I don't think Rebecca was meaning this as theological support for JW doctrine concerning the incarnation of Christ (JW's believe the heresy that Jesus was Michael the Archangel incarnate). Rebecca wouldn't be knowledgeable about most things theological concerning the faith.

2. What I think this was, was artistic license, poor as it is, about the harmlessness and gentleness of Aslan, even though he is a lion. He is an angel. Most moms have said that about their own children at one time or another... Like my mom when I was younger would say to me, "Oh Steve, you're such an angel today..." (And she's right you know. :-).) I think this is how Rebecca must have meant this.

Listen, with most CCM artists and their lyrics, the meaning doesn't take a whole lot of digging--most is pretty romantic, testimonial, personal experience language. It certainly isn't biblical or doctrinal. I have battled this for years with the CCM gatekeepers. Most CCM songs, even the worship songs, aren't about the character of God, they're about us in our experiences before God--which as you know is not the essence of worship at all.

What I know personally of Rebecca is that she is a very kind and sweet young woman who is very sincere about her faith in the Lord. Though not well read biblically or doctrinally (she is a major promoter of The Message, I am confident this was nothing more than fantasy imagery in her song trying tg relate to Lewis's story. If Lewis wrote it, it would be more of a concern, but not much.

Lewis was the CCM artist of literature in his day. He wasn't a strong man in the Word, or a studied theologian; but a confused professing Christian who was doctrinally all over the Narnia map, while enjoyed tremendous commercial success though affirming essential truths of the Christian faith from a skewed ecumenical, eclectic, enigma-like perspective.

He would have fit in great with the NashVegas music scene.

wordsmith said...

boy, i hope i don't date myself *too* much, but i remember Sparrow, Keith Green, 2nd Chapter, and Phil Keaggy. Larry Norman, however, was before i got into CCM...;)

2Tal said...

I concur with previous comments on Michael Omartian's production of "The Roar of Love". If you Narnia fans can get your hands on it I highly recommend it. Regarding Steve's reference to Keith Green, Second Chapter of Acts, Barry McGuire, Jamie Owens Collins, and Phil Keaggy, one word come to mind from their music-"passionate". Let's pray we see more of this in the future of CMM.

Jessica Jo L said...

I agree my husband and I often talk about sparrow and the other record companies, and the artists that have left.

My husband Shawn even wrote a Christian radio station about the message they were sending out. He got a dj really mad at him.

I'm glad I have some of those old tapes. (In one of my art classes in college we had to design a magazine around a cd and artist I used one of yours.)

Bhedr said...


Is Jeremy any relation to you Steve? My Son really likes him. I wish I could get him to listen to you, but isn't that always the case.


Breuss Wane said...

This reminds me of the days when Christian music as a whole was a bad b-rated Journey/Springsteen ripoff.

It's a reminder that there is a segment of our evangelicalism that will consume anything thrown at them simply because it says "Christian" on the package.

When I pick up the latest CBD catalog I wonder "who buys this stuff"? The answer is painfully obvious in the "best-seller" caption slapped over many items: we do.

Breuss Wane said...

> If the message is clear and God->exalting, does it really matter >if the artistic quality is >lacking?

I can't answer for Steve, but I believe the answer is "yes" it does matter when the purpose of the music is intended to piggyback a secular product. We're not talking about a local church performance (although that's another subject worth some lengthy critique and discussion). We're talking about artists who are in an industry that by its very nature is mimicking secular standards.

Further, the message cannot be separated from the messenger. In this instance, the message (IMHO) is not Christ-exalting because of the adulterated worldview milieu from whence it comes.

Breuss Wane said...
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Breuss Wane said...

I hate to be the little kid who points out the glaring omission in the emperor's attire, but while the 2nd Chapter of Acts had few *vocal harmonization* peers, we bought the records and went to the concerts because they were Christian, not because their overall production/talent package was *as good* as their "secular" counterparts. They were not (a lot of our sentimental favorites of the early CCM days belong in the subpar production/music category) *as good*, but we propped them up because of their symbolic value.

Go ahead... flame away. :-)

Breuss Wane said...

It should be pointed out Disney commissioned this project. This is unlike what happened when Provident, without any input from Mel Gibson, did a piggyback project on The Passion. Disney wanted a *pop* project to go along with the movie since the movie score itself had no *pop* pieces.

This doesn't get the artists off the hook. It remains to be seen what LWW's legacy will be, but already there are rumblings that Disney shortchanged the music component of the movie (compared to Lord of the Rings), and this project would be another reflection of that.

littlegal_66 said...


Thanks for reiterating that Disney was in fact the instigator of this project. I feel that Disney exploited these artists and their talents, however, I think the artists allowed themselves to be exploited, you say, this gets no one "off the hook."

Shawn L said...
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Shawn L said...

Breuss Wane,

Does it matter that the production value was worse than other secular counterparts?

I don't think so, I think what matters is the gospel blaring from the songs. I don't think this would be happening in the naria renditions probably.

I think God really used music in the past in my life and I wonder about the next generation what God is using.

My opinion is artists like Keith Green and of course Steve Camp and many others and such got me to dig into the Word as a young kid more and I am praying that God would use future music for digging into the word when they listen to music.

Lee Shelton said...

Thanks, Steve. As a soundtrack buff, I typically shy away from the "Music inspired by..." CDs. I would encourage people to pick up the original soundtrack for Narnia.

Nathan White said...

…"yes" it does matter when the purpose of the music is intended to piggyback a secular product We're not talking about a local church performance (although that's another subject worth some lengthy critique and discussion).

I understand your point here. However, I cannot deduce from scripture that we can rightly critique quality of ‘worship’, or ‘evangelizing’ from an objective, biblical standpoint. Whether it is corporate or not, how can we biblically critique quality of anything offered to the Lord (separate from the message)? Does eloquence really matter if the message is God-honoring? I cannot find that in scripture; and must label any critique of such as a subjective personal opinion (something Steve may even admit). Therefore, I would argue that any criticism of quality is a secular opinion with no spiritual ramifications. And that is not necessarily a bad thing (to critique quality); it’s just not a spiritual thing. The Corinthians called Paul’s speech contemptible, something that Paul readily admitted, but he was justified because he was well-trained in knowledge –his message was God-honoring truth.

John Piper sort of hits on my point as he laments the man-centered worship that permeates our society:

“If the focus in corporate worship shifts onto our giving to God, one result I have seen again and again is that subtly it is not God that remains at the center but the quality of our giving. Are we singing worthily of the Lord? Do the instrumentalists play with a quality befitting a gift to the Lord?...And little by little the focus shifts off the utter indispensability of the Lord Himself onto the quality of our performances. And we even start to define excellence and power in worship in terms of the technical distinction of our artistic acts.” - God's passion for His glory p41

Breuss Wane said...
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Breuss Wane said...

IMHO everyone missed my qualification that set aside local worship quality as a separate issue with no bearing on whether or not quality matters in the discussion of what is "good music".

That something is God-honoring (or is used of God) is irrelevant as to whether or not it is good music. Further, when it comes to the arts and art form, those artists who are presenting material *as if* it is *as good* (and as if it didn't matter) are not God-honoring (insert Francis Schaeffer's call for *quality* Christian art here). It *does* matter.

It's one thing to suggest that "Thief in the Night" had a message. It's quite another to pretend (as was done in the 70's and 80's) that the art is A-grade or that B-grade is acceptable.

Paul and Jan Crouch have made a living (and then some) off of the "it's OK to be B-rate as long as the *message* is biblical" mentality. There's more to quibble with them (and the evangelicalism that props them up) than just their unbiblical message.

Nathan White said...

I agree Breuss. Thanks for clarifying. I think this was Steve’s reasoning behind the original post; however the wording he used brought to mind the Piper concept and sort of raised a red flag.


2Tal said...

Bruess said:
Disney wanted a *pop* project to go along with the movie since the movie score itself had no *pop* pieces.

What about Alanis Morrisette's "Wunderkind"? I guess it's like Steve said. The winning combination is to link "The Passion" with "Lord of the Rings". So we have the Disney "pagan version" Narnia CD and the Disney "Christain version" one as well. Do I have it right yet?