I find that there are different types of music that engage my mind and move my heart toward worship and spiritual encouragement in our Lord’s Day gatherings. Here are some categories, how they impact me, and examples from a recent service at Calvary.
- A grand worshipful anthem – A “big” song presented by a full choir and orchestra or sung by the congregation exalts my thinking toward the great and profound truths of the character and works of our infinite God. Music like this lifts my thoughts and my soul heavenward, and causes me to praise God with my whole being. Last Sunday we were led to sing the simple chorus, He Is Lord, then segued into Holy is He and great is His glory; Holy is He and worthy of our praise. I stand in His presence amazed and crown Him with worship and praise! Holy is He, Holy is He, Holy is He. Then we worshiped with the traditional, majestic hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, with the choir singing a descant of Holy is He on the final stanza.
- A personal testimony – Whether an individual or group shares this type of song, or we sing it as a congregation, I find that when songs about great truths are followed by thoughtfully articulating our personal response to those truths, I am deeply moved. An example of this is after worshiping God’s holiness, the choir encouraged us to Look Up in faith to God, then the congregation sang as our testimony, You are my strength when I am weak, you are the treasure that I seek, you are my all in all. Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord to give up I’d be a fool. You are my all in all. Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name. Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name. I am also touched in heart when a soloist or small group presents a tribute to the Lord in song that is unmistakably personal to them. A married couple sang last Sunday, God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, Hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way. This was clearly their own testimony, and was powerful to hear.
- Personalization of a profound truth – I love it when a song guides me in praising God for a profound theological truth that intersects and transforms my life. In our evening service last Sunday we sang, His robes for mine, O wonderful exchange! Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage. Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified. In Christ I live, for in my place He died. I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost: Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God. Bought by such love, my life is not my own: My praise- my all- shall be for Christ alone.
- Edification and exhortation – There are some songs that tell us how to think or what to do. When we sing them, we are encouraging one another in our Christian lives. I love to hear our church family mutually edify one another with this kind of song. Two young ladies encouraged us last Sunday to Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see. Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, bow the knee.
- Responding to the sermon – I suppose I am moved by this kind of song because I spend the week studying the Word and then sharing the truths I have learned and encouraging our people to believe them and live by them, and I choose songs to end the service that convey our personal response to those truths. I end the sermon, pray, then invite people to respond with the thoughts contained in the closing songs. Last Sunday’s message was about Help for Our Half-Hearted Attempts to Know God, from Hosea 6. We ended with the thought that if we will contemplate God’s love, we will love Him in return and will want to pursue knowing Him. We responded first with a song that presents the greatness of God’s love, Here is love, wide as an ocean, loving kindness as a flood: When the Prince of Life, our ransom, shed for us His precious blood. The chorus exults, Oh, how marvelous, oh, how glorious is my Savior’s love for me. We then ended with our response to God’s unfathomable love: More love to thee, O Christ, More love to Thee!
Every Sunday as we lift the final stanzas of the morning’s musical worship, I walk to the back of the auditorium and into the Atrium to be ready to greet people as they exit. But I always stop and stand in the back before going out the door. I listen to God’s people sing. And I am moved.
He Is Lord
Marvin V. Frey. Traditional. Arranged by Shelly Hamilton. © 2010. Majesty Music, Inc.
Holy Is He
Claire Cloninger, David T. Clydesdale. © 1985. Word Music.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Reginald Heber. John B. Dykes.
Lauri Lou Jones. Ron Hamilton. Shelly Hamilton. © 2014. Majesty Music, Inc.
You Are My All in All
Dennis L. Jernigan. © 1990. Shepherd’s Heart Music.
God Will Make a Way
Don Moen. © 2006. Integrity’s Hosanna Music.
His Robes for Mine
Chris Anderson. Greg Habegger. © 2008. churchworksmedia.com.
Bow the Knee
Chris Machen. Mike Harland. Arranged by Tom Fettke. Mac Lynch. © 1997. Centergetic Music.
Here Is Love
Steve Cook. Vikki Cook. © 2003. Sovereign Grace Worship.
More Love to Thee
Elizabeth P. Prentiss. William H. Doane.