Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spiritual Songs (Part 3 of 8)

All worship is not the same.  We worship privately and corporately (with other Christians).  Should different rules govern these types of worship?  We hold that God alone determines how His people worship Him publicly and corporately.  The second commandment forbids the worship of God by images. (Ex.20:4-6)  Certainly, this prohibition also regulates private worship, but as images are outwardly and often publicly visible, one may easily see how the prohibition has a corporate focus.  The death of Nadab and Abihu demonstrates the seriousness with which God judges those who violate His regulation of His corporate worship. (Lev.10:1-7)

Since corporate worship occupies a different character then private worship, we must answer the question how the corporate character of worship regulates the character of our song selection.  Some rational conclusions follow:
  1. Corporate worship involves corporate singing.  Our song choices need to reflect this context.  Songs written for solo singers probably ought not find their way into the hymnody of the church.
  2. Corporate singing reminds us that the congregation will have greater or lesser musical ability.  Some will possess the talent envied by contestants on The Voice.  Others will simply make a “joyful noise” according to the command from Psalm 100.  This range of musical ability should draw our song selection to the easy-to-sing options.
  3. Corporate worship includes the immediate presence of God.  His presence demands holiness and the best of our efforts.  We cannot accept mediocrity before God in our worship.  Our lyrics must express the best and fullest expressions of our hearts in worship before God.  The good must make way for the best.
Some people balk against the concept of objective criteria for gradations of music or lyrics.  They argue that music includes only subjective elements.  I will not attempt to enumerate criteria for good music even though I think they certainly exist.  I will suggest that the argument to ignore lyrics cannot be sustained.  Words will always remain open to analysis regarding their truth content at least.  At a minimun, the best lyrics for corporate worship must maximize its truth content.  Criteria for the best lyrics for corporate worship and spiritual growth include content about the totality of the redemption accomplished by Christ as fully and excellently expressed as possible.  If we can only agree on the necessity of truth in corporate worship this guideline must be accepted.

(Continued next week)

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