Songs with substance

19 Oct

All hymns and worship songs are not created equal. Some feed the soul and nurture one’s faith. Others are fun to sing but leave one feeling empty. Some provide food for thought and strengthen one’s confidence in God. Others are feel good songs with no depth, or at best, a rather thin theology.

Over the past few weeks, I have paid more attention to what we sing in church. I want our church family to be drawn into God’s presence and to worship him in spirit and in truth. I want them to be fed and strengthened. To my chagrin, I’ve discovered that not all of our worship songs accomplish that goal. Some of the songs we have sung recently reminded me of eating a candy bar. It is sweet, tasty, and enjoyable at the time. But it fills me with empty calories and takes away my appetite for healthier fare.

Yesterday, we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise.” As you can see in the first verse, it is a song that is rich in theology.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

I was recently introduced to another song that is equally rich in its theology. “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin is a much more recent song, but is packed with nuggets about who Jesus Christ is.

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

In contrast to these songs is the praise song, “Meet with me.” While it expresses wonderful sentiment about worshipping God, it never actually says that directly. Nowhere in the song is God identified by name. It only refers to him as “you.” It struck me that if a non-Christian wandered into the worship service, they would not know who we were singing to. In that respect, the lyrics could be sung to any number of supposed deities.

When it comes to worship, we need to worship with all of our being–mind, heart, emotions, and will. We need to keep in mind the words of Jesus as well as the pattern of the apostle Paul. Jesus said that God is looking for people who will worship him in spirit and in truth.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24, ESV)

Paul said that he would sing praise with both his mind and his heart.

“What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15, ESV)

May God help us be more discerning about what we fill our minds with and what we offer to him in worship.

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Posted by on October 19, 2009 in Music, Worship


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