blended worship

August 20, 2008 at 7:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Reasons and Disclaimer

Blended worship: the phrase used to create something uneasy inside me.  I always pictured people with big hair singing a very operatic version of “Lord I Lift Your Name On High.”

I’ve been a part of the conversation about contemporary vs. traditional church music for a long time now and I am just as surprised as anyone that I now pastor a church that has a more blended (“both”) musical style.

One important thing that we’ve learned over the past few months is that when contemporary songs are sung alongside traditional (although newly-arranged) ones, it raises the impact and value of both.  People who find themselves more connected to singing new songs are discovering the depth and creativity of hymns.  People who grew up singing hymns are realizing the accessibility and spiritual nurturing that can happen as people sing contemporary songs together.  It is amazing to see people of all ages and places in life connect in one hybrid worship service.

A lot of what we’ve learned has come from a dedication not to worship style but to the theological basis and purpose of singing in the life of a church.  Something really does happen when music seeps into a person’s soul in a safe and common place like church.  Words take on a different meaning and place in our lives when they come out of the deepest part of us. Singing is a vulnerable act and when we partake in it together we place ourselves in the right position before God, remembering what he’s done for us and what he has called us to do in light of it.  And all of this is secondary behind the fact that praising God is a Biblically-mandated action for believers (Psalm 67:3, Joel 2:26, James 5:13).

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At The Orchard, we have been very blessed to have Matthew Clark lead music on Sundays, and also lead our discussion around the power and place of worship in the church.  Maybe he will write down some of his thoughts to post on here soon.

My friend Don emailed me a Bible study not long ago.  It illustrated a lot of what we have realized lately.  An excerpt:

 

Charles Price on Colossians 3:16

“…. It’s interesting and instructive that when Paul talks here about the Word of Christ dwelling in you richly, he extends it to your singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  This is one of the means by which the Word of God is imparted to us. 

Now when he makes these distinctions – psalms, hymns and spiritual songs – he doesn’t explain what those distinctions are, but clearly there are distinctions. And I want to make suggestions that seem to me to be pretty logical. 

When he says, as you sing the psalms, he is talking about the Scriptures themselves. Of course the psalms were the hymnbook of the Jewish temple. Singing Scripture, paraphrases of Scripture – that is one important thing we should do- allow the Word of God put to music. Through the poetry and music we can remember it and revive it. It’s by far the best way to memorize things. 

And then he talks about hymns, and I would suggest that by the hymns, he is talking about those poems that teach the great doctrines of the faith, that talk to us about God in all His greatness, about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about the Trinity, about the cross, about the resurrection, about the nature of salvation, about the second coming of Christ, all these great doctrines of the Christian faith, which are contained in so many great hymns that are doctrinal in content. And we need to sing doctrine and sing truth. 

But then he talks about spiritual songs. What are they? I suggest to you that, as he clearly makes a distinction, the spiritual songs are those that come from the heart that express not so much the truth as it does our response to those truths. These are songs of love to God, these are songs of praise of God, these are songs of worship to God, these are songs that express how I feel towards God. 

We have hymns that contain objective truths, songs that express the subjective response and feelings towards God and both are right and both are biblical. 

Some of us prefer hymns; we even grumble about spiritual songs – too sentimental for us, too repetitive for us. 

Others of us prefer the spiritual songs and don’t like to have to wade through the substance of meaty doctrinal hymns, “I’d rather just sing ‘I love You, I love You, I love You, I love You, I love You. Let’s have that again, ‘I love You, I love You, I love You.’” 

Do you know something? When you really do love Jesus, those songs are very meaningful. But we don’t live on a diet of one or the other. It is biblical, it is right that we sing both. 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 and Verse 15, “I will sing with my spirit and I’ll sing with my mind.” 

He makes a distinction. And singing with the spirit is singing it from the heart and it’s expressing what is deep inside me towards God, but I’ll sing with my mind as well. 

Don’t be naïve to think this is a recent issue, you know, hymns and songs. It goes right back to the beginning because we need the substance of hymns and we need the expression in the songs. 

But in this context Paul is saying this is one of the ways in which the Word of Christ will dwell in you richly. That’s why it is important that we sing songs that are true to the Word of God. They teach us things. How often have you and I been in a situation where you start humming or whistling or singing some hymn or song and it brings back wonderful truths that you can think about and meditate on?

 

Finally, anyone looking for some newly arranged hymns should check out Bart Millard’s CDs Hymned and Hymned Again.  I downloaded them this morning and they are creative and fun.

iTunes Link

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