Christianity 201

June 11, 2015

The Word in Song

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
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Col 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

While I also love the hymns, I am grateful for the new songs that God has birthed in the present generation of worship leaders. It was through the “choruses” that most of our churches started using in the 1980s that I committed a lot of scripture to memory, as well as through the music of the early Jesus Music pioneers such as Andrae Crouch.

But lately I haven’t been finding as many songs that have resonated with me as strongly (see the sidebar at right for some we’ve used here) and haven’t been posting as many with the devotions.

I once asked my kids, after a particularly long devotional time, if they could tell when it was the author speaking, and when it was a scripture quotation. They claimed they could. I think it’s a reasonable response, the scriptures speak with a greater authority. (Maybe there was something in my voice that would read them differently, too; I don’t know.)

This is probably true of worship songs as well. There is a greater authority when the lyrics draw directly from scripture (or parallel a scripture narrative as in this example). Plus, we gain a vehicle which makes memorization easier. The Scripture In Song movement, which originated in New Zealand, was a great example of this, and back in the day hundreds of songs copied that format.

(I think that modern worship music is suffering from a bit of lethargy right now, which is why we’re seeing so much lyrical borrowing from classic hymns, but we’ll save that for another time. They’re also being forced to survive commercially producing material that gets airplay on Christian radio.)

Today we crave teaching, sermons, books, podcasts, etc., but earlier generations of Christians didn’t have all these things; they simply craved the word. The imagery in Ezekiel 3 is a little hard to swallow (bad pun, as you’ll see) but we’re told,

2So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. 4Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.…”

One of Eugene Peterson’s titles is Eat This Book, and the picture of letting the Word fill us and nourish us and sustain us is something that should challenge us.

I wrote a few months ago how I struggle with this, how I need those sermons and podcasts to shove me off the dock into the water of God’s Word (see the indented section next to the picture). Those things are good, but only if they land somewhere connected to the Biblical texts.

If they only propel you into further consideration of some man’s ideas or agenda, they aren’t accomplishing anything; you would do best to immerse yourself in the text itself; to go to the source.


Read more: In a very short C201 post, I explored the four benefits that scripture promises us.



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