The Song of the Day

Seldom do I come across something like this, but today I found a song that caused me to think about a couple of things in regards to music in general, and perhaps more specifically in regards to congregational worship music.

The first thought I had was that I liked this song on the first listen. I usually gravitate toward music that is a little less straight forward, and that usually takes a few listens to form an opinion about. I tend to enjoy a song to have layers that can be discovered after many plays. Don't get me wrong, there is merit in a good catchy tune, or a first-listen-winner-pop-song or what have you. But I like for music to be a bit more than just all the hype with no substance after several listens. In fact, most pop-songs that make it to radio get on my nerves after the second or third play.

However, today I heard a song that grabbed from the first listen, but for different reasons that just a catchy melody or a memorable line. The song is called Healer by Hillsong. It is on their newest record entitled "This is Our God". You can watch the song here . The guy you see reading the scripture wrote the song the day he received word that he had an aggressive form of cancer. After watching the youtube video of the story behind the song (which has been removed due to copyright regulations), the song just meant that much more. It has been an instant hit to me, not only because the music is great, or even because the lyrics are really amazing (the chorus really is), but because I got to see firsthand the heart behind the song.

This led me to my next thought. As a worship music leader, it is my responsibility to pick meaningful music for our congregation that exalts God and engages our congregation. However, I have to filter music through a biblical theology and through an understanding of the congregation that will be singing it so that the music accomplishes the goal it is intended to. I also like to pick music that is artistically credible. I would say I think that is one major criticism I have about modern praise and worship music. Chris Tomlin is great, and is a great worship leader. I even believe he sings some amazing songs about the character, greatness, wonder, and splendor of God. But lets be honest, his songs are far from artistic masterpieces. What they lack in that area though, they make up for in congregational accessibility (which is my main defense for singing many of his songs). But I think many times his songs, and many like it, lack to story behind them.

At this point, it would probably be helpful to let you know that I typically stay away from songs that focus on me, or talk about my problems, my singing, my commitment, and lean more toward songs that are about God, who he is, his loving-kindness, his holiness, etc. My rational is that our main purpose is to glorify and magnify God, so let's sing about him in the truth of his word. That is a point I believe in strongly and will not back down on.

However, many times those songs that we sing that are biblically sound, and often even straight from scripture seem as though they are missing something (not to say that scripture or God is lacking....hear me out for a moment). They may even come off as trite and repetitive. While I think that songs that display a solid theology and even teach about God should be more prevalent in worship, there must also be a healthy balance of songs from our individual situation and heart that we offer as a response to God. For instance, after hearing Healer the second or third time I thought for a minute that it was too me-focused. However, I then remembered that we have several people in our congregation who are battling cancer. I remembered that we have one or two families who have just recently lost a family member. We have people who's close family and friends are dealing with cancer and disease. And I knew the song would meet many of us right where we are as a congregation, and allow us to apply the words of that song as a praise from our heart to God.

I think there has to be a balance, because after all we are responded to God. Our dealings with God are in a relationship context. We talk to God, he talks to us (not audible most of the time, but through his Holy Spirit) we give to God, he gives to us (albeit our giving is quite disproportionate!) we show love to God and he shows love to us, and so on. While I agree completely that God is holy, indescribable, unattainable, etc., I also know that God became a man so that he COULD be attained, so that he could be grasped, so that we could be redeemed and have a relationship with him. So that being reality, then as we worship, I think it is completely appropriate that we address him within the context of the relationship.

For example, in my relationship with Karen, if all I were to do is tell her how great she is, how pretty she is, how I love her personality, and so on, that would make her feel good for a while, but the relationship would be lacking because I've not at any point let her in on who I am. All I've done is just showered her with words of praise. In order for our relationship to function properly, I must also let her in on my thoughts, dreams, ambitions, struggles, frustrations, and other feelings, all while keeping my priorities straight (not focusing too much on myself). While I realize the comparison is a bit inadequate, we must remember that God has shown deep interest in knowing our thoughts, both positive and negative. Thus, he commands us to pray, asks us to cast our burdens on him, and commands us to sing to him. So as we worship, I think we have to remember the context in which we address God, keeping Him in his rightful place high above ourselves, but also remembering that because of the high price of Jesus, we can interact with God in a humble, yet personal manner. I think that songs like Healer are altogether appropriate in a congregational worship gathering.

Ok, so this blog wasn't intended to be a theological defense for songs from a personal standpoint. It was really just intended to tell you to do yourself a favor and go listen the Healer.So do it!

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.Psalm 96:1-5


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