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Worship and Hymn Writing Part I– A Call for Humility

June 24, 2007

I wanted to spend a few posts on music written for the Church. It is interesting to see how worship music trends have moved in so many different directions in the last 15 years or so. Worship movements have been in varied forms and for many age groups. These changes in style, format, and themes have not been primarily found in younger age groups, but all ages. We have seen movements from Hillsong, Passion, Kingsway, WorshipTogether, and even the Gaithers. This has sparked a large interest in song writing for congregational worship and it has certainly had its positive and negative effects, but I wanted to comment on a few characteristics of songs and song writers that, at the very least, should be present throughout. The first characteristic is humility.

We cannot write music for congregational worship if we are not humble. This may seem like an obvious point, but I wanted to display some dangers of proud song writers in order to understand the severity of this problem. The problem is severe because of what worship is to the Church. Worship is a primary means in which our love, devotion, and affections are stirred towards the Triune God. Among other means – such as preaching, prayer, devotion, meditation, the Lord’s Supper, Bible reading – God has ordained to use worship as a means of grace to help us remember his glory and majesty beyond Sunday morning. I don’t want to minimize the chief reason of worship – to glorify God – but I don’t want to exclude it from being a means of grace towards us as well. If song and hymn writers are proud individuals, the glory and majesty of God, the beauty and wonder of Jesus, and the mystery and sensation of the Spirit will not be appropriately displayed, hindering the congregation in their experience.

Yes, I did use the word experience. The experience of change, wonder, mystery, awe, and glory should all be included in worship. When we experience these things we see the ugliness of our sin and the beauty of Jesus, the inability of humanity and workmanship of God, and limitedness of me and the sovereignty of God. These thoughts are the beginnings of changed lives and the defeat of sin. When we continually view Christ as glorious and beautiful, sin will begin to be less and less enticing and more and more of a lie. Without humility, worship will be a vain promotion of self and a spark for sin. We must take seriously our worship and we need humble song writers, looking forward to the glory of Jesus and the promotion of his name.

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