June 24, 2004

Sing A Song

There is a movement in churches to introduce Praise songs and choruses into the worship service. Some are replacing traditional hymns and some are only integrating the newer styles.

When we first moved here, we attended a church that only sings contemporary songs. We are now comfortably situated in a different church and their mode of worship is a hymnal, piano, and organ. There is a personal aspect of the praise and worhip songs that appeals to me-I do really commune with my God during the singing of those songs. An example:

Here I am to Worship
Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of my life spent with You.

And here I am to worship;
Here I am to bow down.
Here I am to say that You're my God.
You're altogether lovely.
Altogether worthy;
Altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above.
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor.


I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

or this one:

Better is One Day
How lovely is Your dwelling place,
Oh Lord Almighty.
For my soul longs and even faints for You.
For here my heart is satisfied (is satisfied)
within Your presence.
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wing.

Better is one day in Your courts.
Better is one day in Your house.
Better is one day in Your courts
than thousands elsewhere (repeat).
(than thousands elsewhere)

One thing I ask and I would seek:
To see Your beauty;
To find You in the place Your glory dwells.

One thing I ask and I would seek:
To see Your beauty;
To find You in the place Your glory dwells.

Better is one day in Your courts.
Better is one day in Your house.
Better is one day in Your courts
than thousands elsewhere (repeat 3x).

My heart, my flesh cry out
for You the living God.
Your Spirit 's water to my soul.
I've tasted and I've seen
Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You.
I will draw near to You - (to You).

Better is one day in Your courts.
Better is one day in Your house.
Better is one day in Your courts
than thousands elsewhere (repeat 3x).

Than thousands elsewhere.

(K goes around singing the first line of the chorus over and over. I love to hear her small voice singing to God. And sing to Him she does. She most certainly knows what she is saying and to whom).

Some choruses are just modern rearrangements of older hymns:
Amazing Love
I'm forgiven because you were forsaken,
I'm accepted; you were condemed.
I'm alive and well;your spirit is within me
because You died and rose again.

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my God* has died for me?
Amazing love, I know its true.
Its my joy to honor You.
In all I do, I honor You

You are my King.
Jesus, You are my King.
You are my King.

This one is a take off of "And Can it Be" by Charles Wesley (another of my favorite hymns). * I always sing it with God, instead of King, as it was originally written as I think it stays within pure doctrinal boundaries in remaining "God."

I heard/read somewhere that a Worship Chorus is vertical and a hymn is horizontal. Vertical in that it lifts man up to God; horizontal in that a hymn speaks from one Christian to another about God-typically telling a story. I like both and really have no preference. I can stand 20 minutes of hymns each Sunday because I like hymns; they are full of good theology. Perhaps only singing hymns is tolerable for me because I immediately put in a worship CD when we arrive home and because I listen to them (and a variety of other music) throughout the week. But I must say, that when I am sad, despondent and fearing my decisions in life or the direction in which I am being taken, it is in the hymns that I find solace.

Sunday, I was particularly hormonal and grieving many things within myself. The director of the Southern Utah Orchestra and also the director of the university orchestra played two hymns on his violin. As he began, I knew I wouldn't make it through them. I quietly reached into my purse and removed a kleenex that I keep around for the seemingly extra runny noses of little girls on Sunday mornings (nothing like having to sit in a pew that seems to make a child dehydrated, aggravate allergies, and have bladder problems at the same time, huh?). Two of my favorite hymns were singing out from the violin. Although I know the words to them both, I found the number and silently sang along. C and K were singing quite loudly; however, to my chagrin and the other parishoners delight.

Remember Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire; he refused to run on Sunday's? He taught this hymn to other prisoners while he himself was imprisoned during World War II as a missionary to China. I find it very comforting when I am distressed as it reminds my soul of the Providence of God and helps alleviate my fear in or of suffering.

Be Still My Soul
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

The second, Be Thou My Vision, I first heard of during a special segment of 20- The Countdown Magazine with Jon Rivers. In honor of Rich Mullins (who died in August 1997), he had put together several of his interviews with the singer/songwriter describing his life and inspiration in writing and singing his songs. When Jon asked him what his favorite hymn was, Rich replied, "Be Thou My Vision." His reason? "Because it's Irish."

Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soulís Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor manís empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heavenís joys, O bright Heavenís Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

I think that no matter his excuse, man is always looking to be comforted in his soul by the One who created him. When nothing else seems to work, I take heed in that I am now one of the 99, but was once the 1 and will be forever grateful that Jesus came to find whom was His, but was away from the fold.

Posted by Rae at June 24, 2004 12:06 AM | TrackBack

Rae, you wrote beautifully on a subject that is dear to my heart: hymns. Like you, I listen to both, but IMO P&W doesn't compare to hymns.
I have spent hours at a time at cyberhymnal.org reading through the hymns - many times without the music. When times are difficult and I'm finding it hard to focus on worshiping my LORD, that's where I go.

My favorite hymn is Be Thou My Vision ;o)


Posted by: Ruby at June 24, 2004 08:30 AM

While I do enjoy both, I prefer praise songs when I'm not in church. They help uplift me. When I'm in church, just being there is uplifting for me.

We are in the process of finding another church home. It's been difficult. I really did enjoy our previous pastor's teachings. but the people and the situation just made it impossible to stay. I'm hoping we'll decide on one soon.

Posted by: GrumpyBunny at June 24, 2004 08:40 AM

The church we're now at does a little of both, but it's mostly hymns. One thing I've noticed, having attended churches that do *all* P&W, is that it really doesn't matter a whit. I like the hymns because they're real. The contemporary songs have an emotional hook that some get addicted to and mistake that for worship. I don't condemn my friends for saying they "need" contemporary songs to worship and that hymns don't "speak" to them, but having said that myself, I understand better that it wasn't that hymns didn't "speak" to me because my generation doesn't hold truck with that. It was my own fault.

Posted by: ZaphodBeeblebrox at June 24, 2004 08:48 AM

Leave it to Rae to talk about YET another subject dear to my heart...

About a year ago, I posted a series of comments to This Article:

First, I pulled these definitions from Webster's 1828 dictionary. (I encourage all Christians to be at least familiar with the "purity" of the English language 200 years ago.) PRAISE, n. s as z. [L. pretium.]
    1. Commendation bestowed on a person for his personal virtues or worthy actions, on meritorious actions themselves, or on any thing valuable; approbation expressed in words or song. Praise may be expressed by an individual, and in this circumstance differs from fame, renown, and celebrity, which are the expression of the approbation of numbers, or public commendation. When praise is applied to the expression of public approbation, it may be synonymous with renown, or nearly so. A man may deserve the praise of an individual, or of a nation.
      There are men who always confound the praise of goodness with the practice.
    2. The expression of gratitude for personal favors conferred; a glorifying or extolling.
      He hath put a new song into my mouth, even praise to our God. Ps.40.
    3. The object, ground or reason of praise.
      He is thy praise,and he is thy God. Deut.10.
PRAISE, v.t. [L. tollo, extollo; pretium.]
    1. To commend; to applaud; to express approbation of personal worth or actions.
      We praise not Hector, though his name we know
      Is great in arms; 'tis hard to praise a foe.
    2. To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works.
      Praise him, all his angels, praise ye him, all his hosts. Ps.148.
    3. To express gratitude for personal favors. Ps.138. 4. To do honor to; to display the excellence of.
      All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord. Ps.145.
WORSHIP, n. [See Worth.]
    1. Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness.
      --Elfin born of noble state, and muckle worship in his native land.
      In this sense, the word is nearly or quite obsolete; but hence,
    2. A title of honor, used in addresses to certain magistrates and other of respectable character.
      My father desires your worships company.
    3. A term of ironical respect. 4. Chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like.
      The worship of God is an eminent part of religion.
      Prayer is a chief part of religious worship.
    5. The homage paid to idols or false gods by pagans; as the worship or Isis. 6. Honor; respect; civil deference.
      Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. Luke 14.
    7. Idolatry of lovers; obsequious or submissive respect.
    1. To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.
      Thou shalt worship no other God. Exodus 34.
    2. To respect; to honor; to treat with civil reverence.
      Nor worshipd with a waxen epitaph.
    3. To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission; as a lover.
      With bended knees I daily worship her.
    1. To perform acts of adoration. 2. To perform religious service.
      Our fathers worshiped in this mountain. John 4.
As you can see, the two words are not as simmilar 200 years ago, as they are today.

I was told once, that Praise is to celebrate God's Creation, and Worship his to adore God's redemptive work in Man. While this sounds good, Adam worshiped God before the fall of man. (No redemptive work was needed yet.)

One of the Hebrew definitions of Praise is "to make a fool of oneself for".

From the definitions above, I would say that Praise is a celebration of God's goodness, and a public display of acknoledging God's providence.

Worship, on the other hand, is more of a humble prostrate responce to God's perfections, from imperfect vessels, such as ourselves.

You can see Webster's 1828 Dictionary Online at:

Disclaimer: I'm no Christian Schollar, just some kid in the desert. If I am right, then "GO ME!" If I'm not, I appreciated the chance to try to sort this out.

I wrote all of this a little over a year ago, and my perspective has changed even more. I have a hard time communicating this, because what little I understand of it all, I even less of an ability to communicate it. But,
Praise is an action, or an emotion. Worship is a lifestyle.

ACK! There is SO much to say on this topic, and I've already exceeded my Jeremy's-mindless-banter-tollerance on this comment alone!

Posted by: Jeremy at June 24, 2004 09:44 AM

Over the past year I have been one of the 5th-6th grade Sunday School teachers at a large non-denominational church in North County San Diego.

I do this every other week. On alternate Sundays, I attend "big church" with other adults. The audience is usually 700. There are four services, including one on Saturdays. I attend only one of them.

The first 25 minutes of each service is reserved for worship.

I avoid the first 25 minutes.

Even if I hadn't grown up with traditional (read: very old) hymns—most of which I still enjoy—and more modern ones, like How Great Thou Art I still would have at some time in my life come to be nauseated by what my friend Steve Amerson calls 7-11 Worship—the same seven words sung eleven times. To that, I would add that the only thing that changes is the tempo, the intensity and the concerned, penitent expression on the faces of the "Worship Team" — and I fail to see what that has to do with worship, but I do suspect that it has something to do with emotional manipulation.

People go to church for a variety of reasons, but the last one I go for is how it makes me feel. I like a good sermon, I like to learn, I like the fellowship of honest, unpretentious people— and I have found that there are some to be found, even at church.

The day I go to church for how it makes me feel is the day I set foot on the path that will eventually lead to me quitting church because I don't feel that way anymore.

I believe worship is what we do when we consciously listen for, listen to, and follow the inaudible voice of God.

Posted by: david_d at June 24, 2004 10:08 AM

I'm an old fashioned Episcopalian and like my hymns at least 100 years old! :) The last church I went to used to have a modern guitar/folk service once a month. [shudder] Needless to say, I didn't go on thise Sundays!

Posted by: Ith at June 24, 2004 11:38 AM

Thank you so very much for sharing these songs. They brought back a lot of memories to me.

My heart, my flesh cry out
for You the living God.
Your Spirit 's water to my soul.
I've tasted and I've seen
Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You.
I will draw near to You - (to You)

That is my hearts cry even now, to draw near to Him and learn to hear His heartbeat and to walk in His ways.

Thank you again for sharing!


Posted by: Paul at June 24, 2004 08:22 PM

In man's heaven everybody sings! The man who did not sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on earth is able to do it there. The universal singing is not casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on, all day long, and every day, during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody stays; whereas in the earth the place would be empty in two hours. The singing is of hymns alone. Nay, it is of one hymn alone. The words are always the same, in number they are only about a dozen, there is no rhyme, there is no poetry: "Hosannah, hosannah, hosannah, Lord God of Sabaoth, 'rah! 'rah! 'rah! siss! -- boom! ... a-a-ah!" - Mark Twain

Posted by: Liberal Larry at June 25, 2004 05:23 PM

I always preferred a mixture of old and new at Mass, but there are very few that bring me to tears if I even hum the tune.

The King of Love, My Shepherd Is http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh138.sht

I considered a favorite line of the song, but it is all very moving, even in my struggling heathen state of ife in which I currently find myself.

Salve Regina in Latin.

When I sang that hymn at the end of the day in the seminary, sweat dripping down my legs after about two hours kneeling in a chapel working on the points for the next morning's meditation and finally getting to stand to sing this hymnn -exhausted from a day of chores, study, prayer, soccer and hiking. It was a relief, a promise of a new day and a hymn to my mother. Tears would fill my eyes and they still do if I even sing one line of the this hymn.

Sweet Sacrament (Jesus My Lord, My God, My All)http://feastofsaints.com/jesusmylord.htm

Jesu Dulcis Memoria:http://homepage.mac.com/deborahkelley/music/iMovieTheater23.html

(English) JESU, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy Face to see,
And in Thy Presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Jesuís Name,
The Saviour of mankind.

O Hope of every contrite heart,
O Joy of all the meek,
To those who ask how kind Thou art,
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.

Jesu, our only Joy be Thou,
As Thou our Prize wilt be:
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.

Posted by: Patrick at June 28, 2004 02:05 AM

Patrick, those are beautiful hymns! Thank you for you for sharing such a moving testimony behind Salve Regina.

I think that we have Jesu Dulcis in our hymnal as it sounds very familiar to me.

It seems that many of the commentors on this post hold hymns (or certain ones) close to their heart as either a comfort to their soul or a seemingly more pure form of worship of Our Great God and Savior.

I agree that worship is a state of being, but I think that it cannot be denied that there are certain times while physically within the communal body of Christ, in singing to God, that the Holy Spirit moves us in ministering to our sometimes weary, grieving, or overjoyed human souls.

Posted by: Rae at June 28, 2004 09:57 AM

I enjoyed your post about hymns/worship songs. As a former worship leader and still a member of a church music team, I am amazed always at what touches different people in their worship time with God - whether hymns or the current worship songs. And, God in his amazing creation, provided so many different styles of music so everyone can find one that speaks to their heart. God is good.

Posted by: stephanie at June 29, 2004 08:58 AM

Hi, Stephanie :) Thanks for dropping by. Even more- thanks for commenting. Everyone here knows that vistors welcome, commentors adored ;)

Posted by: Rae at June 29, 2004 09:38 AM

Hello Rae,
Looking at your profile I was wondering what exactly is the distinguishing difference between an Orthodox Christian and a fundamentalist Christian.
You have touched on a subject very close to my heart. I was the C.A.R.E. minister for the praise team at my church when we lived in Houston. In our new city, it has been really difficult to find a service that uplifts us, and our spiritual growth is kinda left up to me for my family. I even started a small praise service here that flopped by lack of support from the sponsoring congregation...small town mentality is sometimes a very difficult thing to deal with.
Anyway.... Good Topic... I could go on quite awhile, but I'll spare you.

Posted by: Superhero at June 29, 2004 04:35 PM


Well, I think in my "A Few Things" about me, I clarified a bit better than previously in my first post. I am a Reformed Christian. Does that help?

I was on a praise team (a rotating position) in our church back in Missouri. It was O.K. I enjoyed doing it, but I when I looked into the audience, I saw very few elderly people singing, and many refused to stand. There were a few couples though, that would stand, sing, and even raise their hands. And, in examining their "fruits" I would even say they were the more spiritually mature of the group. They wweren't "anything" goes, but they were accepting of a newer style of worship as long as it was within doctrinal purity.

I think that at some point after the Reformation, the songs changed a bit and were new to some who may have converted. What was the response then to that "fancy new style?"

And we lived in a small town, too, Supe, and yes, it is challenging. I used to laugh at the University of Missouri-Columbia's offering of Rural Sociology, until I lived in a rural area and then I wished that I had taken it! But, alas, I learned on my own that it takes a while for them to accept someone new and to allow new ideas.

We humans can be creatures of comfort.

Posted by: Rae at July 1, 2004 11:24 AM

No doubt!
On the music post Reformation-
Did you know Martin Luther (the reformer) used bar tunes to put together some of the now oldest (Lutheran) songs? These songs are sung by "old fashioned" congregations across the country in a variety of denominations who have no idea on their origin. Of course, some of them use Bach tunes or some of the German composers of the late 1500's or early 1600's.
Personally, I think that the new services are a new reformation that is helping transform worship. Instead of habitual and liturgical services with 400 year old music and attendance forced by the conscience. We are now seeing strong doctrine incorporated with movement and infused with guitar and electric instrumentation (Psalm 150). Congregations are getting stronger by offering ministry opportunities for laymen, and several opportunities for people to serve in something that they are interested in, and possibly even good at.
In such a time as this, it's good to have a place that supports us, where we can go and be with others that love the same God, and "lift holy hands in prayer" and song.

Posted by: Superhero at July 1, 2004 12:16 PM

I did realize that, Supe. R has an Irish Drinking Songs cassette that he enjoys listening to while working in the garage. One evening I stepped out and heard the music of "Be Thou My Vision" being sung with very different words, so I researched it.

Posted by: Rae at July 1, 2004 01:56 PM
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