Why we Worship


Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!

Why Scripture?

Church Music

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A Reality Check For Church Musicians

May 26, 2009

Worship music now holds a high and lofty position in the view of many (most?) church-goers and strategists. Without discounting its role, C.S. Lewis, as only he could do, warns of the need to keep our musical offerings in perspective.

All the Levites who were musicians......stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
"He is good; his love endures forever."
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

2 Chronicles 5:12-14

That must have been a thrilling moment in the history of God's people. Who would question that God designed music in part to glorify Him in worship? But there is a danger, a presumption that must be checked. Listen to C. S. Lewis from his essay entitled ON CHURCH MUSIC:

When it (music in the church) succeeds, I think the performers are the most enviable of men; privileged while mortals to honor God like angels and, for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labor, skill and worship, the natural and the supernatural, all fused into that unity they would have had before the Fall.

But I must insist that no degree of excellence in the music, simply as music, can assure us that this paradisal state has been achieved. The excellence proves 'keenness'; but men can be 'keen' for natural, or even wicked, motives.

The absence of keenness would prove that they lacked the right spirit; its presence does not prove that they have it. We must beware of the naive idea that our music can 'please' God as it would please a cultivated human hearer. That is like thinking, under the old Law, that He really needed the blood of bulls and goats.

To which an answer came, 'Mine are the cattle upon a thousand hills', and 'if I am hungry, I will not tell thee.' If God (in that sense) wanted music, He would not tell us. For all our offerings, whether of music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.

James Trott, in his second edition of hymn texts entitled A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE, includes a text by William Austin (1587-1634) that reveals the ongoing problem that church musicians in all ages have faced.

The poem is titled TO A MUSICIAN, and Trott states, "Many musicians are more out of order than their instruments; such as are so, may by singing this Ode become reprovers of their own untunable affections: they who are better tempered, are hereby remembered what music is most acceptable to God and most profitable to themselves.

What helps it those,
    Who skill in song have found,
Well to compose
    Of disagreeing notes,
By artful choice,
    A sweetly pleasing sound,
To fit their voice,
    And their melodious throats?
What helps it them
    That they this cunning know,
If most condemn
    The way in which they go?

In other words, musicians can sing and play with the finest of talent and artistry, but if others can see the inconsistency of their lives, and the fact that they don't subscribe to what they sing about, or try to live out the truth, then we have a problem.

What will he gain
    By touching his lute,
Who shall disdain
    A grave advice to hear?
What form the sounds
    Of organ, fife, or lute,
To him redounds,
    Who doth no sin forbear?
A mean respect,
    By tuning strings he hath,
Who doth neglect
    A rectified path.

Therefore, O Lord!
    So tuned let me be
Unto Thy Word,
    And Thy ten-stringed law,
That in each part
    I may thereto agree,
And feel my heart
    Inspired with loving awe;
He sings and plays
    The songs which best thou lovest,
Who does and says
    The things which Thou approvest.

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