Tag Archive | Corporate Worship

Some Things Should Never Change!

images[5]In my last blog post I mentioned a number of negative things I believe are going on in the church world when it comes to music, which do not lend themselves to a productive worship experience for many people.  Today, I would like to take a positive approach to worship by sharing a couple of scriptures from the New Testament, written through the hand of the Apostle Paul, about what, ideally, our corporate worship should look like.  The Bible says “in the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing shall be established”, so I have chosen two verses which say nearly the same thing.

The first is found in Ephesians 5:19 and 20, “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

The second verse is in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (ESV)

It is pretty clear from these verses that the Early Church used this pattern of worship in its services.  Psalms have been used since the time of David as poetic themes from the Word of God set to various musical patterns.  Many churches, as well as synagogues, use these to this day.  Some use them exclusively in worship.  Psalms are simply passages of scripture dedicated to praise and worship of our Father which, when set to various melodies, can be extremely conducive to entering into His presence in the corporate worship setting.

Last night I attended a choir rehearsal of a world-famous and highly renowned choir.  They were rehearsing the familiar old tune from the 1800’s, “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, which is a musical adaptation of Psalm 23.  The associate choir director, a young man in his 30’s, related the story of how four years ago he had been experiencing severe trials in his life which had led him into a sort of depressed state.  One Sunday, as he walked into church, he heard the choir sing the words from this psalm,

“My table thou hast furnished

In presence of my foes;

My head thou dost with oil anoint,

And my cup overflows.”

He said that immediately a peace came over him and his whole outlook and attitude changed as he thought about our Lord who gives us so many blessings that our cups overflow with them!  It was a major turning point in his life that he never forgot.  God used a simple hymn to transform the life of a young man from feelings of depression to victory!

The second form of musical worship mentioned in the above verses is “hymns”.  These anointed works containing much scripture, worship of God and theologically sound doctrinal themes, have been penned by men and women for centuries as expressions of their love for their Lord, often mentioning the omnipotence and majesty of God, as well as the themes of crowning Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, now and in Eternity!  I could go on and on, naming such great hymns as “Holy, Holy, Holy”, “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and so on.  To omit these mighty works, which have endured in the church for literally centuries, from our modern repertoire in favor of some light, fluffy tunes with words that copy current pop or rock lyrics, simply substituting the word “Jesus” for “you, my lover” is missing a sacred opportunity to enter into the presence of the Holy One!

The last type of music mentioned by the Apostle Paul is the term, “spiritual songs”.  I think we all are aware of what “spirituals” are…the African American people learned hundreds of songs by rote, which we still sing, as they were working in hard labor in the cotton fields and wherever they happened to be.  No doubt these songs were a great comfort to them in their physically agonizing times of stress and strain and probably “got them through” much pain and suffering.

Even if we today are not enduring the trials of the American slaves of old, we still have trials and tribulations that cause us to turn to our Creator for peace and help.  This is where many “spiritual songs” have sustained men and women, boys and girls for centuries.  These are “testimony” songs about God’s sustaining grace and power to deliver in time of need; songs about how God rescued us from the pit of despair and put us on the path to Eternal Life; testimonies and praise to Him in upbeat, as well as quiet and worshipful, tunes; and songs simply expressing our heartfelt love and gratitude to the One who has changed our lives!

I believe the Church collectively would do well to consider including music from each of these three categories in our worship services.  Surely this admonition from the New Testament is just as important for us to observe today as it was back when it was written.  Some things are not meant to change!



Cold Pea Salad

I’ve received so many comments regarding the lack of variety and inclusion of worshipful hymns and songs that truly glorify God in our churches, that I have decided to include parts of just a few of them so you might see what some readers are thinking.  These have come as a result of several posts pertaining to the monotony, general lack of Biblical content, and “me” centered songs, rather than worshipful, melodious, Christ-centered ones.  Here are a few examples:


“This is real frustration felt by so many of us “old-timers”….I for one really loved the old hymns, and they still evoke a myriad of emotions in me…the new worship choruses, not so much.  Even so, the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts through music in spite of how it changes…all it takes is a receptive heart.”

“We have talked about taking ear plugs to church….”

“I struggle every week during worship with resentment at the worship team’s choice of songs.  Almost all are unfamiliar, “unsingable” due to complexity or range, or simply focused on the worshiper instead of the Lord.  And then the congregation applauds at the end of each song, which to me is praise for the singers, not the One being worshiped (it is not ‘clapping to the Lord’)….”

“The single largest problem the church faces today is having its priorities out of whack.  Worship and glorification of the Lord must come first, everything else including evangelism comes after.”


OK, so is it just disgruntled old “fogies” who are upset because their hymns have been replaced with contemporary worship songs? Do these people really hate lively songs with a good beat, including bass, guitars and percussion, preferring old, stale, slow, quiet hymns of another era? Or could it just be, perhaps, that they would like something called “variety” in worship?

Recently my husband and I attended a live, on-stage performance of C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters“, in which his famous book is portrayed in monologue form.  The late writer used allegory, symbolism and a hint of sarcasm to portray Satan and his demons at work on earth and especially in the church, among the saints who professed faith in Jesus Christ.  Let me try a little of his brilliant technic (however, probably not quite as brilliantly and cleverly as his was)!

I recently went to a buffet (or smorgasbord, as the Swedes call it) to hopefully try a variety of foods for my palate.  I was starved and looked forward to heaping my plate up with lots of goodies!  To my horror, I discovered that every dish on the serving line was filled with “Cold Pea Salad” as the signs indicated.  Now, I love “Cold Pea Salad” and started to take a heaping spoonful, but then I realized that the next spoonful and the next would be the same….my plate was soon full of “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked the manager what this was all about, he smiled and told me very politely that the restaurant had tried serving “Cold Peaches” about ten years ago, but people got weary of them.  So, about five years ago they switched entirely to “fish”; of course, the same thing happened, he said…people got very tired of fish before long!  So, now they were serving what he was sure everyone loved, “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked him if there was any chance of getting something else to eat, he promptly told me that a restaurant up the street was serving “Green Bean Salad” to all of its customers and I might like to try that one.  I thanked him and left.  On the way out, he shouted at me, “Oh, by the way, ma am, next Tuesday we’ll have a special menu; it will be ‘Chilled Pea Casserole’.  You might want to come back for that!”  Thankfully, I found a restaurant a few blocks away with a varied menu and enjoyed my meal!

Now, of course, you can see how ridiculous this is, but in many ways, it seems the Church has followed this line of thinking.  When it observed the world coming out with a new style of music, it was not too far behind in following the trend, instead of setting it!  If a survey showed that people of a certain age group (and this is certainly our target audience; who cares about the rest!) enjoy one kind of music, we shall bend over backward to please them, ignoring the cries of, “Can’t we have some variety?  I like this kind of music, and the guy over there likes another.  Can’t we sing both styles occasionally?”

I made a promise to myself and to my blog followers on my first post that I would not write a “negative rant” for a blog.  I have tried to keep this promise!  If I point out a “negative”, or a problem, for example, I would like to follow it up with a “positive”.  That is why I am going to post Part Two of this blog next week with some possible solutions to this situation.  I have prayed and asked the Lord to guide me in what I write and I feel that the Holy Spirit has given me some good ideas that may be a blessing and of some benefit to worship leaders and those in the congregation, as well.  ‘Til next time, be blessed!

What Type of Worship Does God Enjoy?

Rebecca Baker 4        Well, that really is a loaded question, isn’t it? You may say, “how do we know what God likes?” There are so many styles of worship  music to choose from, ranging all the way from classical to rap and everything in between! When it comes to worship, you may feel His presence while listening to a heavy metal song with a driving beat; or you may prefer some classic anthems of praise sung by an anointed choir. Some people like to stomp their feet and tap their toes to Southern Gospel; many people get it on to Black Gospel (one of my personal favorites!) because the sheer energy and rhythm of the song makes it virtually impossible not to clap, dance and move about! Of course, these same styles of music sung at a slower pace can cause a flood of emotions through the sheer beauty of the chords, bringing tears to our eyes and healing to our spirits.

How can this be, you ask?  What is there about music that touches us so deeply?  It’s simply because musical patterns have been scientifically created by the Great Musician, our wonderful God we serve! That is why some chords sound right together and others just don’t work. When you choose to go against the natural patterns He created, you have what is called “dissonance”. I believe Satan is the author of much discord in music, but that is another subject for another day.  There is nothing more intrinsically “spiritual” about one type of musical pattern over another.  Now, of course, putting words to the music can bring out emotions, but  music itself is not “spiritual”.  This is why musicians hundreds of years ago could take the common “bar tunes” of the day and put words of praise and worship magnifying God that we sing today as the “old hymns of the church”!  The question then is: How is God blessed and moved by our worship of Him? What style does He appreciate? The Word says “He inhabits, or lives in, our praises” so it seems to me that music uplifting Him, of any genre, is first and foremost what He enjoys if our hearts are totally directed towards Him in our worship! The Word is replete with examples of worship pleasing to our Lord. If you would like to do a study on which forms of worship God encourages, the following passages will be helpful:

Shouts of praise:Shout for joy to God, all the earth;” (Psalm 66:1, ESV); “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting…” (I Chronicles 15:28, ESV)
Singing:Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” (Psalm 47:6, ESV) Also check out I Chronicles 16:9  “Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (ESV); Psalm 66:4, Psalm 68:32, Psalm 96:1 (“Oh sing to the Lord a new song…”); Colossians 3:16, and on and on! There are literally hundreds of verses about singing in the Word of God.
Tambourines and Lyres: “They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.” (Job 21:12, ESV)
Cymbals and Trumpets: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:5, ESV); “The singers…were to sound bronze cymbals;” (I Chronicles 15:19 (ESV); “Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song.” (I Chronicles 16:42, ESV); “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet” (Psalm 150:3, KJV).
Making merry; rejoicing in song: “And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs….” (2 Samuel 6:5, ESV); “And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song…” (I Chronicles 13:8, ESV)
Playing and singing together: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings (how many fingers do you have…could this be clapping?). Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” (Psalm 33:2 and 3, KJV)
Clapping unto the Lord:Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Psalm 47:1, ESV)
Stringed instruments and organs: “Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” (Psalm 150:4, KJV)
Dancing: “Praise him with the timbrel and dance:” (Psalm 150:4a, KJV); “Let them praise his name in the dance:” (Psalm 149:3, KJV)
Lifting of hands:Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” (Psalm 134:2, KJV); “I desire then that in every place men should pray, lifting holy hands…” (I Timothy 2:8, ESV)

     There are literally hundreds more verses on this subject of music and worship in both the Old and New Testaments.   To answer the question:  It is obvious that God likes many different styles of music for He created all music!   All through the Word, we are told to worship with joy, loud praises, shouting, and thankfulness. Worship is to be a happy, exuberant experience!  In a day and age where everything is specialized and carved out in little niches to try and please everybody (a literal impossibility!), perhaps we can depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to show what the music we employ to worship the King of the Universe in the corporate setting should sound like! I pray we will all worship Him “in spirit and in truth” as Jesus said that “true worshippers” would do in John 4:23,24. It’s time to stop going through the motions and worship from our hearts!