Maybe it’s just me, but every so often, it seems like a particular word or phrase becomes “trendy” in contemporary Christian worship music. For instance, 10-15 years ago, it was variations on the phrase “wings like eagles”(see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for examples of chart topping songs that came out between about 2001 and 2008). Don’t get me wrong… most of those are great songs that I’ve sung and led many times, and there’s nothing wrong with the phrase “wings like eagles”. It’s a biblical phrase, and we should sing it! But by 2008 I was pretty much ready for a break from feeling like I sang it all the time.
Today, I’m getting the same vibe from the words “roar” and “roaring.” It’s everywhere right now! Is it a biblical word? Absolutely.
- The sea roars (1 Chronicles 16:32; Psalm 42:7, 46:3, 65:7, 93:3, 96:11, 98:7; Isaiah 51:15; Jeremiah 5:22, 6:23, 11:16, 31:35, 50:42, 51:55; Luke 21:25)
- Storms roar (Job 30:22)
- God roars (Job 37:4, Jeremiah 25:30; Hosea 11:10; Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2; Revelation 1:15, 10:3, 14:2)
- God’s people roar (Zechariah 9:15; Revelation 19:6)
- God’s enemies roar (Psalm 74:4, Isaiah 17:12-13; Ezekiel 19:7, 22:25; 1 Peter 5:8)
- And, of course, lions roar (Job 4:10; Psalm 104:21; Jeremiah 2:15, 51:38)
So I get it… there’s a lot of roaring in the Bible, and there’s nothing at all wrong with using that term in our worship music. But until recently, that wasn’t a word I sang very often. Some notable exceptions being The Lamb is a Lion by Michael Card (1988); Shout to the Lord by Hillsong (1994); Holy Roar by Christy Nockels/Passion (1996); and She Must and Shall Go Free by Derek Webb (2002).
But lately, there’s been a lot more roaring on the radio and in our sanctuaries. It seems the trend began around 2009 with Daniel Bashta’s song Like a Lion:
The song’s popularity really began to take off when David Crowder covered the song during the 2010 Passion Conference (an annual trend-setting event). Two years later, it was covered by the Newsboys, which is the version that hit the radio ad nauseum, especially after the movie God’s Not Dead came out.
In 2012, Hillsong carried the growing “roaring” trend to the other end of the world with their song Glorious Ruins:
Once Hillsong and Passion have both used a phrase with great success, you can bet it starts working its way into more and more new songs! Sure enough, Chris Tomlin began roaring that same year with White Flag (though he also had a preliminary roar back in 2006 with Let God Arise). By 2014, Tomlin was all in with The Roar:
Here’s who else got in on the action in recent years:
I Am Yours, Lauren Daigle (2014)
Praise the King, Corey Voss (2014)
O Praise the Name, Hillsong (2015)
Jesus, Chris Tomlin (2016); see also All Yours from the same album
Lion and the Lamb, Bethel/Leeland (2016); also covered by Big Daddy Weave
None of this is criticism, by the way, just observation. Again, most of these are good songs (and the blame doesn’t lie with the word “roar” in the ones that aren’t). And since I’m not a song writer, I’m not really in a position to criticize anyway. But as a lover of language and variety, I do sort of hope we’ll be coming out of this “roaring” phase soon…