Ryan Seacrest said it like he was saying: "And now singing 'We Are the World,'" but instead he said: "Singing 'Shout to the Lord...'" and I thought: it must be some other Shout to the Lord. Surely not the ubiquitous contemporary worship tune that is an unabashed song of praise to God, written in 1993 by Australian Darlene Zschech. To end what will likely be the most watched show of the night, if not of the whole week (although the Tivo users will have missed it since it ran after the show's scheduled end). A show that featured the likes of Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Annie Lenox. Not exactly people you think of when you think of contemporary Christian music.
But sure enough, there it was. As the opening piano intro played, I said out loud, to the empty room: What the hell is going on? Which was kind of funny given the fact that the folks on TV were singing about God. It was like I had stepped into another dimension. All of the American Idols singing Shout to the Lord, changing just one word (Jesus to Shepherd) so as not to offend non-Christians. (Side note: people have already been blogging about how they're disappointed that they made that change. Why be disappointed? From the standpoint of the producers, including the "J word" would open themselves up to anger from lots of non-Christian religious folks. And from the standpoint of a Christian, you should simply be glad that such an incredible song of worship was sung on a program like this.)
So why did they do it? I just discovered that Ruben Studdard put it on his "I Need an Angel" CD published in 2004, so that would make the producers familiar with it. And they already had the choir on hand. And the fact that earlier shows featured Dolly Parton singing "Jesus and Gravity" and those young guys with the dobro, guitar, and mandolin singing "This Little Light of Mine" shows they're not afraid to do religious material (this is Fox after all, right?) So I'm sure the atheists will write letters about how offended they are that they used a religious song to promote giving money to secular causes, and Christians will write letters about how offended they are that they didn't say Jesus in the song. Personally, I found it to be a very powerful and historic, albeit bizarre, moment. You?
If you missed it, you can check it out here.