“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Heard this new(ish) song by Matt Redman the other week and can’t get it out of my head. I love how he takes the lyrics to the old hymn “At the Cross” and adds new thoughts to it from Galatians 2:20 (see above). Check it out for yourself!
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my soul rolled away It was there by faith I received my sight now no longer I, but Christ in me
Matt Redman is easily one of my favorite songwriters. “Blessed be Your Name,” “Our God” (which he wrote but Chris Tomlin arranged), and “10,000 Reasons” are just a small sampling of the many many many songs of his that have significantly impacted me and ministered to me through the truth they contain and the poetic way that truth is expressed.
The most recent song of his that I’ve enjoyed is called “It is Well.” Redman took the chorus from the famous hymn by Horatio Spafford and added new verses and lyrics. I’ve had it on repeat the past couple days and thought I’d share. Enjoy!
“Weeping may come / remain for a night
But joy will paint the morning sky”
Tongue firmly in cheek, here’s a repost of a blog on 10 reasons Contemporary music is DEAD! Here’s a sneak peek:
“6. Repetition is never appealing
These new song writers have never studied great compositions like the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ or ‘Psalm 107’ to see how you don’t need to repeat phrases to emphasize something.”
It’s become clear to me that contemporary worship music is dead, dying, and decaying. Think I’m wrong? I’m not. Here’s my proof (read it and weep. Really. Please weep):
1. The new songs aren’t nearly as old as the older songs “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was written in 1779! “Ten Thousand Reasons” was written in 2011. These new songs aren’t even close to being as old as the old songs. The old songs have been around for several hundred years! These new ones? Not nearly that long!
2. Some of the new songs are trying to pretend they’re old hymns Have you read some of the new songs? They’re trying to act like they’re hymns, with their deep theology and everything. It’s ridiculous.
3. Whatever happened to singing Isaac Watts? Hasn’t he written anything new lately? Why aren’t we singing his new stuff? Even more ridiculous. We’re missing out…
Last week I came across this humorous story about an old man’s perspective on praise choruses and a young man’s perspective on hymns. It sounds like a lot of people I know on both sides of the story, so I thought I’d share. Funny how different the same thing can sound to different ears, right?
An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” said the farmer. “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”
“Praise choruses?” asked the wife. “What are those?”
“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer.
“Well, what’s the difference?” asked the wife.
The farmer said, “Well it’s like this … If I were to say to you, ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you, ‘Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, in the CORN, CORN, CORN, COOOOORRRRRNNNNN,’ then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus.”
As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” said the young man, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”
“Hymns?” asked the wife. “What are those?”
“They’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man.
“Well, what’s the difference?” asked the wife.
The young man said, “Well it’s like this … If I were to say to you, ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you,
Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn,
then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four, and change keys on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.”
Do you identify more with the farmer or the young man? When you’re in a service that uses a style different than your preferred one, are you still able to worship? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments 🙂
One of the more common complaints Christians have about their church revolves around the type of music you’ll hear on a given Sunday there. The phrase “worship wars”–which by all rights should be an oxymoron–sadly is all too familiar to a host of Christians. I recently came across some complaints to pastors from fans of “traditional” music regarding that newfangled, altogether too loud, and plain offensive noise they’re calling “music” these days. They’re all from different decades but the same theme runs through them. Here they are:
“Pastor, I am not music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday’s new song, if you call it that, sounded like a sentimental love ballad one might expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you persist in exposing us to rubbish like this in God’s house, don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.” -From ’65
“Was it the organist’s idea or yours that our peaceful worship service was shattered by that new song last Sunday? The music was sacrilegious; something one would expect to hear in a den of iniquity, not a church! Don’t expect me even to attempt to sing it next time!” -From ’74
“What’s wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new song. Last Sunday’s was particularly unnerving. While the text was good, the tune was unsingable and the new harmonies were quite discordant.” -From the 90’s
Ouch! Them there’s some strong words aimed at contemporary music. But just which songs are the guilty parties? Well they might not seem too “contemporary” to us, seeing as how they’re all hymns that are over a hundred years old. (In each letter the phrase “new song” was originally “new hymn”)
The first complaint is from a letter written in 1865 regarding the hymn “Just As I Am.” The second is from a letter written in 1874 complaining about the hymn “I Love To Tell The Story.” And the final one is from an 1890 letter to a minister complaining about the new hymn, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” (As a disclaimer, they were all found online, so take them with a grain or two of salt haha).
Sadly, it seems this is nothing new in the history of the Church. In fact, Isaac Watts, considered the Father of English Hymnody, created a storm of controversy in the early years of the 18th Century when he started writing “human centered” songs like…oh, I dunno…“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”!
While we Protestants are quick to whip out phrases like “Sola scriptura!” and decry any and and all forms of (ohhh so evil!) tradition, it seems that (all too often) we still have our own traditions that are clothed/disguised as preferences…until they are threatened by the new. May we all (myself especially included) be quick to be gracious, slow to condemn, and remember that these at best tertiary issues.
How does your church deal with addressing the varying preferences for traditional versus contemporary worship? Different services with different musical styles? One service with a mishmash of styles? Only one or the other of the styles? And more importantly-How does that choice affect the makeup and unity of the congregation?
Last week Kevin DeYoung sent out a tweet that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Most recently it came to mind during worship at church on Sunday. The tweet in question was this:
For those that don’t know, I’ve led worship for college ministries for the past six years and worship is a passion of mine. I’ve always tried to pick the songs I led with care and attentiveness to what those in the group might need and where the Holy Spirit might be leading.
This tweet crashed into me like a load of bricks. I was alternating between tearing up at the beautiful picture of praises lifted up in desperate faith around a hospital bed and searching my memory for what songs that I’d led over the years might fit this description to a conviction to lead differently in the future whenever opportunities present themselves.
Because, you see, all leadership involves vision (or a lack thereof). And while leading worship has the big, grand object of leading a people into an encounter with the Almighty God in a specific moment, we shouldn’t neglect practical considerations and vision of teaching and equipping either.
Worship leaders, pastors, parents: are we equipping people to worship alone in the valleys as well as gathered together in the mountaintops? Are we equipping people to encounter and worship God in the quiet, desperate moments beside sick loved ones where there’s no guitar within reach and no powerpoint as well as during loud, full-band celebration services? I pray that we all are and that it starts with me.
What songs that your family or church taught and sings fit this description? Are they all hymns or are there contemporary songs that fit the bill too? Sound off in the comments-I’d love to discuss and develop this more!