Thoughts on "Defender" by Francesca Battistelli

My first listen to Defender by Francesca Battistelli jarred me. “You come back with the head of my enemy.”

Wait a minute, what? Can I sing about decapitation in church? The question isn’t if I can, but if I should. Let’s talk about it.

Let's take a look at the lyrics:

You go before I know That You've even gone to win my war You come back with the head of my enemy You come back and You call it my victory, oh-ooh
And all I did was praise All I did was worship All I did was bow down, oh All I did was stay still
Hallelujah, You have saved me So much better Your way Hallelujah, great Defender So much better Your way
You know before I do Where my heart can seek to find Your truth Your mercy is the shade I'm living in And You restore my faith and hope again
And all I did was praise, ohhh, oh-ooh  
When I thought I lost me You knew where I left me You reintroduced me to Your love You picked up all my pieces Put me back together You are the defender of my heart

First off, I understand the Biblical context. I know it’s a metaphor for the true vanquishing of an enemy. God’s won the victory. I get it, but as the one responsible for the songs we sing, I have to be aware of the images the lyrics conjure. Who or what is our enemy? What if I consider my enemy to be that frustrating manager who makes my daily life miserable? Do I really need Stan’s head on a pike?

Being Challenged 

There is a place for lyrics that challenge us, but we need to be thoughtful about when and how we use them. Perhaps a personal story or a scene from the Bible would make the line more relatable. Maybe naming a common enemy like sickness or pride would be appropriate and help frame the lyric.


Personally, I know for a fact that the lyric would cause an issue in my church so my solution is simple. Skip verse one and begin with verse two. The song still makes sense and keeps my people meditating on God as Defender rather than the latest Game of Thrones episode. For those of you who take issue with altering an artists original intent I ask you this: does the song serve the congregation or does the congregation serve the song? I firmly believe the former.


Defender is a great song, now it’s up to you to decide how it fits in your services.

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

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