Why do we sing the songs we sing in worship? What makes them appropriate? Are worship pastors purposeful in the songs we select or guilty of picking their favorites or the songs most requested by others?
The only true “series” I keep with on this blog is the “Why do we sing that?” series. I like series, but I just haven’t found the kinds of serial topics that work with my designated purpose for the Schoeneblog. Yes Wiseheimer, the Schoeneblog has a purpose. If you missed it, I blogged about it here.
A couple weeks ago we sang the great hymn by Bill and Gloria Gaither, “Because He Lives.” You know the song. We’ve sung it in our churches for years.
Because He Lives
God sent His Son they called Him Jesus
He came to love heal and forgive
He bled and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove
My Savior lives
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives
“Because He Lives” is a great song and I will continue to slot it into services of worship when it is the right fit for that particular Sunday. But I want to use it as an example of the positive and negative potential of a song that has been in our lives for an extended time. I’ll start with the positive power of such a song.
- The positive influence of Familiarity. Songs can become the sound track for our daily living. Worship songs remind us of truth that Jesus lives. We live with this truth directing our steps each day.
- The positive side of Sentiment. A song can bring us back to a moment when God was performing a particular work within us. When we hear that song again, we are reminded that God is active and working in our lives. We also are reminded of the commitment of surrender that we have mad to Him. We can also be reminded of the great heritage of faith that passed the songs down to us.
Okay, now for the disappointing news.
- Familiarity can breed apathy. When we become too accustomed to a song we tend to mentally “check out” during worship. The is something we should never do since we are instructed to Love the Lord with all your heart with all your mind and with all your strength. I realize that people can “check out” during a new song as well, but right now I’m reminding us of the adage that familiarity breeds apathy.
- Sentiment can deter our focus. If a song has attached itself to a particular memory or feeling, we tend to give our hearts permission to remain in that memory rather than participate in the presence of Holy God. For me, I can’t hear “In the Garden” without thinking of a casket. It doesn’t make it a bad song. It just makes it a challenge for me to focus my worship on God.
When we sing songs in worship that we have heard at least 50 plus times, we are prone to the apathy that comes with familiarity and the sinful side of sentiment. But it doesn’t have to be so! As you see, there are great benefits that can only be reached by repeating a powerful song often enough that it becomes a helpful companion on your faith journey.
I thank God for the song Because He Lives. As a child standing on the pew and peeking over the top of the shared hymnal between my mother and father, the song made it clear to me that Jesus is alive! And it reminds me still today! The fact that He Lives propels everything we do as a church family and as followers. At FSBC, it’s the first three words of our purpose statement.
Because Jesus Lives! FSBC exists as a local body of Christ to: worship God; share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ with our community and the world: encourage and equip believers in the faith; and serve others with mercy and love.
It is implied in our statement of mission: Connecting people with God and one another. We seek to connect people to a LIVING God. Were Jesus not living, we would pursue our mission statement in vain.