This is an error called a mixed metaphor; they can be funny.
Cher reportedly once said, “I’ve been up and down so many times that I feel as if I’m in a revolving door.”
Here’s a healine: “Ahmadinejad wields axe to cement his position” (Independent, 14 December 2010).
OK, they aren’t hilarious, but they are amusing in appropriate places. I don’t think we want them in our praise and worship songs.
“Like a rose, trampled on the ground you thought of me…”
“Like a flood, his mercy reigns . . . ”
There is such beauty and power in language, and to neglect them in one of the most important language acts in which a human being can participate is a problem.
There are wonderful songs that we sing in church where every line is worship and revelation: “Blessed Be Your Name” and “10,00 Reasons” are examples of such songs. But for one line, “Revelation Song” comes close.
Then there are those songs that trade in cliché, clunky diction, vague purpose, awkward syntax and mixed metaphor.
They are not usually all bad. I can usually sing them without too much discomfort, but is this something that should happen in communal worship? I often feel as if I am too critical, but I cannot reject what I know about the potential of language as a vehicle for worship.
What am I to do? Get off my high horse and realize that to heaven even Mozart sounds inferior to a toddler banging on his 8 note Fisher-Price piano? I do try. I try to focus on the one we are there to worship. I try to look past the lyrics to the intention of the writer. I try to absorb the sincerity of the singers that surround me. Sometimes I just block out the sounds and talk to God. Perhaps, I should be more than content with this, but I love to sing–and it’s a powerful and symbolic experience to participate in communal singing.
Is any of this the responsibility of those who write praise and worship songs?
My theory is that the priority of many (not all) song writers is to engage the heart of the people during worship sets.
I have a theory as to why: many song writers encounter God by music through the heart, so they write songs that would bring them into worship, but this one approach is too narrow. Not everyone enters worship through the same door.
The best praise and worship songs are not reductive they engage the heart, mind, soul and body. The best songs have a specific focus and therefore unity, the sense is communicated through carefully selected words and often echoed in the music, syntax and diction aren’t forced and sometimes surprising, figurative language is effective: it has a deliberate effect.
The mixed metaphors are funny when someone says, “It’s like pulling hen’s teeth.” But they do get in the way of some people being able to praise and adore the most high God.
The song “Multiplied” has two in the first verse:
Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name