Connecting with Culture
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‘Lord I’ve been broken
although I’m not worthy
you fixed me, now I’m blinded
by your grace
you came and saved me.’
It may sound like a worship song, but these lines were sung to – and by – over 100,000 people at Glastonbury festival last Friday.
Stormzy, a 25-year-old grime artist, played his two-part song ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ during an explosive 90-minute headline set at the UK’s biggest music festival.
He began his performance of ‘Blinded By Your Grace pt. 2’ by saying ‘we’re going to take this to church, and we’re going to give God all the glory right now’. This was a change in tone from the rest of the rapper’s performance, which consisted of stark political and anti-racist commentary with strong language throughout.
It was an unusual moment. An audience of over 100,000 were chanting their criticism of the current political status quo, but in the same performance, they were singing out a clear theology of grace: ‘You saved this kid and I’m not your first / it’s not by blood and it’s not by birth / but oh my God what a God I serve.’
Like so much of contemporary pop culture, Stormzy’s performance at Glastonbury has divided Christians: those who immediately and unquestioningly celebrate such a clear declaration of gospel truth, even using his performance in church services; and those who write him off completely due to the bad language and questionable morals presented in the rest of his music.
Although it may be difficult to reconcile the gospel message of ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ with the lyrics of his other songs, we should perhaps be wary of writing him off completely. But we also shouldn’t accept and condone his music unthinkingly. As with so much in our culture, there is much to be affirmed and much to be critiqued here.
Whatever our conclusion, however, it is clear that this artist – the second youngest ever to headline Glastonbury, and the first ever black British solo artist to do so – has introduced the Christian concepts of grace, salvation, prayer, and brokenness to an audience who may otherwise never come across them.
We do not have to affirm everything about Stormzy’s set and his music, but we can and should celebrate that – and pray that God would give the increase.