Self-Conscious Songs

Most Southern Gospel songs are addressed either to God or to the singer’s audience. But every now and then, a Southern Gospel song isn’t addressed to either. It’s addressed to other songs, or the singers singing them. Let’s look at three of these self-conscious songs.

“Sing Me A Song About Jesus” (Florida Boys) threw down the gauntlet to songwriters offering songs that had pretensions of being Christian but were so vague that the listener had to read between the lines to find Jesus.

“Songs that Answer Questions” (Gaither Vocal Band) called on songwriters to abandon songs about creeds and doctrines unless they pertained to a current issue prompting questions.

“I Want My Stage to Be an Altar” (The Akins) is the group’s recent breakout hit—unsurprising given that the lyric was more accessible than some of their previous songs. It talked about the heart and motives of the vocalist delivering the song.

Undoubtedly, self-conscious songs have a role. Songwriters comfortable with the challenge of distilling a message into twelve or sixteen lines of poetry sometimes find it easiest to send a message to vocalists or fellow songwriters through the lines of a song. At the same time, it seems rather odd to stage a song delivering a message to, let’s say, professional Southern Gospel songwriters in a normal concert setting.

What role should self-conscious songs play in our genre?

And are there other great examples?