Sloppy wet or Unforeseen?

Seems like I’ve already read hundreds of opinions from various worship leader groups and social media posts about this one. The 2nd half of the 2nd verse of John Mark McMillan’s signature song, “How He Loves” has certainly generated a lot of controversy with the original line “So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss…”

Rather than adding to the conjecture and speculation, I think it’s always best to go straight to the source. A few years ago, John Mark himself visited our CCLI office, and during our staff devotions, he offered this insight…

“First, it’s not the most controversial lyric I’ve ever written,” said John Mark, with a wry smile. “But the image I wanted to convey here was not really about human affection. The picture of heaven meeting earth was more like the ocean meeting the coastline. Lots of crashing waves and pounding surf. Definitely sloppy and wet. When David came to me and asked if he could change the line to ‘…unforeseen kiss,’ I agreed. But I still like my version better.”

Here’s another story behind the different versions of Matt Maher’s “Your Grace Is Enough.”

As he shared at one of his concerts, Matt offered his insight into the push-pull dynamic that happens between songwriters, this time between himself and Chris Tomlin. “I went into a full 20-30 minute dissertation on all the theology and exegesis of why ‘restless’ should remain in the line, ‘…the sinner’s restless heart.’ When I finished, Chris simply replied, ‘Yeah, but it’s easier to sing without it.’ ”

Then there’s “I Can Only Imagine,” the amazing ‘90’s ballad that defined the band, MercyMe. Amy Grant asked Bart Millard if she could write an alternate second verse and add a few other changes. “Of course I can’t say no to Amy Grant,” Bart reflects.

So what do we make of all these different versions? From a copyright standpoint, there are no issues since in each case, the adaptation was made with the consent of the original author. But in terms of deciding which version to use, that’s where leadership and discernment come in. As a worship leader or music director for your church, you know your people better than anyone. And you know what God Himself is speaking to your heart as you prepare your worship sets week after week.

Use your best judgment. And pray for God’s blessing and anointing that His Spirit would use His Truth to speak into hearts that desperately need it.

As a songwriter, worship leader and a member of the marketing team, Paul is connected to CCLI in every possible way. Paul serves as CCLI’s Content Creator in the U.S. Service Center in Vancouver, Washington. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from George Fox University and has served as a marketing/communications specialist and a worship leader for a number of churches and ministries.


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