Hymns and Worship Songs

(Shawn Suttle) #1

For quite a while now I have noticed more and more worship songs on the radio and in church which sound great, but in my opinion, err doctrinally. For example, “What A Beautiful Name” - Hillsong Worship has the lyric “You didn’t want heaven without us. So Jesus, You brought heaven down”.

Jesus wants, and even requires, Heaven to be perfect and sinless (I know you can’t have one without the other). It’s my belief that Jesus came down to give us a new life and nature that would ready us for Him to bring us UP to Heaven, rather than bringing heaven down to us. Especially since the world in which we currently live is not too heavenly.

My question is - am I being too legalistic in my thinking? Or am I right to inspect and discern between worship songs as critically as I would any sermon that is preached behind the pulpit of my church?

(SeanO) #2

@ssuttle1 You may find the Connect thread on the song ‘Reckless Love’ an interesting read since people share their perspectives on this very question. Personally I think that words do matter, but that we should be quick to listen and slow to judge songs written by other people. They may not have communicated clearly what they were thinking or we may be misunderstanding their intentions.

(Shawn Suttle) #3

There’s a lot in and to that article! Thanks for that link. I’ll have to reread that a few times. I agree that reckless probably isn’t the best word for that song. And I especially like the idea for congregations to write their own hymns! That would be awesome!

Thank you for this!

(SeanO) #4

@ssuttle1 Indeed - a lot of good stuff to think about as we try to honor the Lord and show grace to our brothers and sisters.

(Bob Adams) #5

We have erred to make things sound nice and appeal to the listeners. we have forgotten the Lord in these things as we have created an “All Loving God” who, if we were honest, believe He won’t send anyone to Hell. As the OT says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. One of my friends, Rich Mullins, mentioned when went to Nashville, he was stuck in a room and told to spit out 4 songs a week. Then our worship leaders pick from them and don’t focus on true worship nor often understand what it means. There are some great and spiritual worship leaders out there and they truly worship. But for the most part we have focused on performance. The Word says we will account for every idle word. What about the things we did on purpose with no true regard to Him? That has become the focus in my life.

(Mike Sweeney) #6

Jesus warned us to watch for false prophets, so being watchful is following Jesus. Jesus was everything that is in heaven while he was in the world. No sin, the Light, unconditional love and the Lamb without spot. He was here sent from the Father in heaven and as such I have no problem with the thought that He brought heaven to the world. I believe that Jesus was shown to the world in the flesh not only to fulfill the word of the prophets, but to show those with eyes to see and ears to hear a view of heaven The beauty of heaven.

(Kathleen) #7

Hi, @ssuttle1! Thanks for this good question. As a worship leader, one of the great burdens I have is to choose words that will both be sung and said in our public worship. That’s a huge responsibility as what we say, the way we sing/say it (sitting, standing, fast or slow tempo,etc.), and when we sing/ say it will shape us as worshippers and colour how we view God. This, in turn, effects our approach to him and how we relate to Him. So, no, I don’t think you’re being too legalistic, and I would hope that your own worship leaders would be not only musically discerning when they choose songs but also theologically discerning! :slight_smile:

I have found that there is place in the worship service for all types of songs: the rich hymns of the past (and the familiar tunes that go with them!), newer hymns, and, what sometimes is referred to as ‘praise choruses’. That is, songs that are a bit simpler and repetitive, but give us time and space to reflect upon a specific character attribute of God.

I think Hillsong has put out some wonderful music, and we use a good bit of it in our worship, but the line you mentioned in ‘What a Beautiful Name’ is one that has also niggled at me as well! Though I wanted to do the song because of the spectacular bridge (‘Death could not hold you…’), I kept not doing it because of the line you referenced. However, for me, it’s the first part of it that gets to me. It just seems so…wrong…to assert that God didn’t want to be without us…like he was lacking something or lonely or bored. God does not need us, and I don’t want to proclaim otherwise.

The second part of the line you mentioned doesn’t necessarily bother me, as I understand it as it highlighting just one of the reasons Jesus was born…the Word became flesh…the Son became incarnate. After all…

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor and mean and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

Jesus did come ‘to save His people from their sins’, thus, Jesus himself, being God in the flesh, is often understood as heaven coming down…a heavenly invasion of earth! But I can see how the line can be understood to be asserting that Jesus brought all of heaven to earth. That, like you said, unfortunately remains to be seen.

But after I thought about it for a while and chatted to some other people, the full line sits with me a little better now. Because it is true that God, for whatever reason, loves us and thought humanity worth saving. So on some level, He didn’t want humanity to be completely separated from Him (i.e. want ‘heaven’ without us), so the Son, that little bit of heaven, came to earth to sort things out (i.e. Jesus, you brought heaven down). God brought salvation down to us. Or, as Charles Wesley put it…

Mild, he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

What a ridiculous, marvellous, overwhelmingly humbling, beautiful truth! :raised_hands: All praise and thanks to God!