Friday, July 1, 2016

Singing Our Theology

     As a little girl, I remember attending church with my parents and sister.  Standing next to my mother, I always thought what a beautiful voice she had as she sang the old hymns.  I wasn't able to read yet so I could not join in, but I did learn by heart the "Gloria Patri" and the Doxology.  Repeating them week after week left them embedded in my heart.
     Throughout my childhood and well into my adult years, I recall various hymns that have blessed me.  When my Grandfather died, they played his favorite hymn
in church, "The Old Rugged Cross".   Later in my life when I would visit home, I remember hearing my father play "Sweet Hour of Prayer" on the organ.  He loved that song.  So when I came across a list I could join on the internet that shared one or two hymns a day, I joined it.  Since that time, I have been posting many of those old hymns on my Facebook timeline.
     Attending a recent birthday party, one of my daughter-in-law's family members remarked to me that she enjoyed seeing the hymn postings every day.  She said one of her Sunday School teachers used to say that when we sing a hymn, we are singing theology to ourselves.  I thought that was a great statement.  What we sing in church ought to not only bring praise to God but it should also reinforce the doctrine and truths of Scripture.  One way to do this is to sing the Psalms.  A sister reformed denomination does this  exclusively.  Other portions of Scripture have also been set to music, and this aides in memorization.
     Some of the earlier hymns of the faith are the best (in my opinion) as they conveyed the foundations of our beliefs.  One such hymn which is often sung today is Holy, Holy, Holy:
Verse #1
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Verse #2
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shall be.

Verse #3
Holy, holy, holy! Tho' the darkness hide Thee,
Tho' the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Verse #4
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

     Looking at these lyrics, we see mention of the Trinity, the angels worshipping the Lord and all creation praising Him.  The song is God centered worship as it should be.  Singing this strengthens our foundational beliefs.
     Several years ago, I attended a contemporary Christian service and we sang a song made popular by "Delirious ?" an English contemporary Christian group.  The lyrics to the song "I Will Follow" stood out in my mind:
     I've found love, as deep as the ocean,
And your eyes, they hit me like a train
And your words serenade me like the sweetest of songs
Here I find peace again, again

I will follow, I will follow
I will follow, I will follow

There's a song, and it's louder than music
Can you hear me when there's no sound?
Joy, coz I dance with the angels
Take me higher, I'm not coming down.
And your words serenade me like the sweetest of songs
Here I find peace again

I will follow, I will follow
I will follow, I will follow

The sentence that bothered me the most was the description of the eyes of God hitting us like a train.  Yet, in the song, there is no mention of Jesus or God directly.  When compared to the words of "Holy, Holy, Holy", there is a sharp contrast in what is being conveyed.
     Theology matters and so do the words which we sing.  When we worship, we are to give God the glory and lift His name up.  It is not about us, our feelings or experiences.  Some songs and music are better suited  for the stage in an entertainment venue rather than a worship service.  I realize this is not a popular idea or trend in the church today.  However, I have shared this to point out the value of the hymns that may seem outdated to some but which contain good theology.  My prayer is that our worship will be acceptable to the Lord and bring glory to His name.  Likewise, I pray that we may watch all the words that come from our mouth (whether spoken or sung) as we will have to give account for them one day (Matthew 12:36).  Selah!

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