Reflections – Modern church songs
To my great joy when I was 12 years old I moved out of Sunday School classes into Youth Church. I bless those leaders at Benoni Methodist Church for the excellent Christian foundation I received there. Youth Church was run completely by youth leaders and was a proper church service, but informal and filled with what we called choruses. Sunday worship was energetic, loud and a great place of teaching.
To my sorrow, many of these songs do not appear in the modern praise and worship books. Maybe they never appeared in book form, but I have not forgotten them. The lyrics were, for many choruses, taken almost word for word from the Bible:
‘Silver and gold have I none, said he, but such as I have give I unto thee,
in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to rise up and walk.
Walking and leaping and praising God, walking and leaping and praising God
In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to rise up and walk’
‘You shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace,
And the mountains and the hills will break forth before you.
There’ll be shouts of joy and the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands.
These days often in non-traditional church worship, the service begins with four or five modern songs, and the occasional jazzed-up version of an old hymn, such as Wesley’s ‘And can it be, that I should gain‘. This can be delightful- especially if you are young, and happy to have a 5 piece band blasting out and don’t mind singing some lines 24.5 times. In the free church we attended before coming to Essex, I found it can some (OK, me) a bit edgy…. others came to the service late.
And that brings me to the point I wish to make today. Do modern songs have that same ability to teach us, to connect us to each other and to focus our hearts in worship? Are modern songs easier or more difficult to sing than the old hymns? After all, our sung worship should help us focus on God, still our heats or bring us rejoicing to God’ table, and not be a distraction as we struggle to keep in time and tune. And last, but not least, do the lyrics instil the words of God in our hearts? Maybe not word for word from the Scriptures, but words of encouragement, comfort and joy?
Today’s little project then: Jerusalem, How Great Thou Art, In Christ Alone, Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind, Abide With Me, I Vow To Thee My Country, Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, and Amazing Grace are the nation’s top hymns. Are they yours, or would you choose others? Maybe they are too old-fashioned. So today as part of your reflection, how about listing your top worship songs?
May God always put a song in your heart.