Worship and Hymn Writing Part IV – Write on Redemptive Themes
I have been spending a few posts interacting with what I believe should fill the lyrics and themes of our worship music that is being written today for our congregations. In part I, I mainly dealt with the writer of the songs. The author of our songs we sing should be humble. If you want to create music for the Church today, you should strive to humble yourself in order that you may rightly portray God gloriously high and lifted up. It is awfully difficult to do that with a lofty heart. In part 2, my main intention was to encourage song writers to write in order to “rouse up affections for the Triune God.” Our songs we sing should encourage our hearts to swell in joy over our Savior. Song writers should struggle for words that accomplish these things in the hearts of believers. And in part 3, finally, we should teach in our songs. I argued that, historically, hymns have been used to teach sound and biblical doctrine to the congregation. This not only encourages our people to worship in spirit and in truth, but also fall in love with these truths.
In this post, part 4, I wanted to encourage writers to focus their themes on redemptive themes. I am not saying that all worship songs should be about the cross and our redemption in Christ. There are other reasons to praise God about and we should sing about those reasons. But Christ is glorified in cross, so we should sing of it. The Gospel of John displays throughout his book that Jesus is exalted and glorified in his “hour to come”, namely the cross. In John 12:23, Jesus sees that the Gentiles are now desiring to see him and this signifies to him that the cross is near. He says to his disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In John 17:1, hours before Jesus is to be crucified, he prays to the Father, “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify the Father.” There are other passages in John that speak of the cross being a glorification of Christ – 7:39, 13:31. In Revelation 5, where the Apostle John is mourning the fact that there is none worthy to open the scrolls, his tears are quickly ceased when the Lamb of God appears to open the scrolls and heaven’s company begins to sing, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed the people for God (Rev. 5:9). Then they sang, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
The reason in these specific passages for the worthiness of Christ was his suffering for the redeemed people of God. The cross was the reason for glory. Now, from eternity past, Christ has been worthy of all honor and praise, but here we see that the cross was (1) the way in which the Father glorified his Son (this also included the resurrection and exaltation) and (2) the way in which believers see the glory of God. We can spend pages and pages on these two points alone, but I think the witness of Scripture is clear that the Father has glorified his Son through the cross and we have seen and will continually see in greater and greater measure the glory of God in Christ through his cross – the work of the New Covenant.
We, the redeemed, should fill our songs with the cross. If you write music for your church or the Greater Church, then meditate on the place in which Christ, the Son of God was most glorified towards his redeemed – the cross.