Weekly Article Blog
Senior Pastor Dan Hawn publishes a weekly article which is also emailed to members and regular attenders. Let us know if you would like to receive this weekly article via email.
Our worship directors usually let me know when they plan to introduce a new song.
While listening to one (scheduled for March), I had an initial negative reaction to a few of the lyrics. After some discussion, including correspondence with another pastor, we decided to scrap the song, even though it’s fairly popular.
This circumstance was a good reminder to me of two things: One, the importance of our singing together. And two, the importance of setting a high bar for the lyrics we sing.
The Importance of Our Singing Together
Both the Old & New Testaments make clear that God’s people have always gathered corporately for worship. Moreover, singing together has always been an important part of that gathering.
Focusing on the second point, we might ask why this is: Why is singing such an important & prominent part of the corporate gathering of God’s people?
The main reason we sing is because we are commanded to do so. For example, Ephesians 5:18 says: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
A second reason we sing is because God delights in it; our singing to him brings him joy. Yesterday, Marilyn Wittrup told me how blessed she was by the congregation singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Similarly, God is blessed when we sing to him.
A third reason we sing is because, when we do, it awakens our affection for God. We may come into a service feeling spiritually listless; however, our affection for God is awakened by the voices of our fellow worshippers singing praises to him.
And then a fourth reason we sing is because it is through singing that the congregation learns its theology. In other words, a congregation isn’t taught only through preaching, but also through its singing.
This brings us to the matter of lyrics.
Setting a High Bar for Lyrics
If singing is part of the teaching ministry of the church (i.e., designed to encourage right thinking about God and ourselves), then the lyrics are supremely important. Above all, lyrics must be truthful, even while allowing for poetic license. Of the three songs I “vetoed” in recent years, it was because I believed the songs included lyrics that weren’t true in some respect.
Song selection is a bit easier for the traditional service because our songs come out of the hymnal and these songs, for the most part, have stood the test of time.
This is not the case for the contemporary service; most of the songs we sing haven’t been around that long, so extra care is required. Why then even sing new songs? Because at least five times in the Psalms we are told to “sing a new song” (Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; and 149:1).
Please pray for our worship directors as they labor “behind the scenes” to choose songs that will truly glorify God and edify his people.