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 understanding.
- Psalm 47:6-7
Do you remember diagramming sentences in grade school? The teacher would write a sentence on the blackboard and you would have to pick out the subject, verb and object. For example:
Jack throws the ball.
“Throws” is the verb. It describes what is being done in the sentence. “Jack” is the subject because he is the one doing the action. “Ball” is the object. The action is being done to it.
Very simple, you say. But when we first learned how to diagram sentences, we would sometimes confuse the subject and the object because they’re both nouns. If we loved to play ball, but couldn’t care less about Jack (whoever he is), we might pick the ball as the subject. However, regardless of our likes and dislikes, the sentence is really about Jack, not the ball. He is the subject.
Now, think about some of your favorite Christian songs. What would happen if you diagrammed the lyrics? What are the verbs, subjects and objects? What are the songs about? Are they about God, or only about our worship of God?
Worship is not about us but about God. Therefore, worship music lyrics should draw attention to Him, not to ourselves or our worship of Him. There is a place for music that expresses our feelings for God (such as ‘I Love You, Lord’), but the best worship music has God as the subject. It describes Him and what makes Him worthy of praise.
I can pledge my love for God always, but what generates true worship in me is when the lyrics cause me to think about how He has shown His eternal love for me! Without this continual bringing my attention back to God and what He has done, my worship loses its meaning. It becomes mere emotionalism that becomes harder and harder to sustain.
Yes, I love God, and I need to express that in my worship. But why do I love Him? Because He first loved me! It’s so easy to just rattle that phrase off without thinking about it. Think about it anyway. In what ways has He shown love? How has He shown love to you?
Worship music should not be limited to only one of God’s character traits. He is worthy of worship for all that He is and has done. What songs and hymns praise Him for these things? If you are a song-writer, how can you express who He is and what He has done in your lyrics?
In Tenderness He Sought Me
In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin,
And on His shoulders brought me
Back to His fold again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of heaven rang.
He washed the bleeding sin-wounds,
And poured in oil and wine;
He whispered to assure me,
“I’ve found thee; thou art Mine”;
I never heard a sweeter voice;
It made my aching heart rejoice!
He pointed to the nailprints;
For me His blood was shed;
A mocking crown so thorny
Was placed upon His head:
I wondered what He saw in me
To suffer such deep agony.
I’m sitting in His presence,
The sunshine of His face,
While with adoring wonder
His blessings I retrace.
It seems as if eternal days
Are far too short to sound His praise.
So, while the hours are passing,
All now is perfect rest;
I’m waiting for the morning,
The brightest and the best,
When He will call us to His side,
To be with Him, His spotless bride.
Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold!
- by W. Spencer Walton