Jesus Our Song
Charlie is a songwriter/pastor based in Oklahoma City, where he is the Pastor of Worship Arts and Liturgy at Frontline Church. He has been writing songs for the Church and leading congregations across the world for more than 20 years. Hall is one of the members of the Passion Worship Band.
What an amazing time in the history of the church for music. The songwriting is wide, not always deep, but it is amazingly wide. The decades past are still overflowing with spiritual songs that serve the church. The church has been left with a treasure trove of hymns. One of these great historic hymns, which dates to only a few hundred years after Christ's death is "Phos Hilaron." I celebrate the diversity of songs, styles, hymns, and tribal war cries for Jesus that exist for the church. But amid this celebration, I want to fight for the songs that help the church see the clearest biblical pictures of God. Many of these pictures are found in hymns that have been passed down hundreds of years. All of these hymns though serve by helping us to see clear pictures of God, reminding us of the gospel, helping us battle sin in our lives, reorienting our affections, and above all forming Christ in us.
Singing Hymns to Remember the Story
Since the creation of the world, there has been song, melody, and lyric. They began with and in God and then He himself passed it on to His people so they could pass on the story of God (Psalm 78). They sang of His acts and miracles. They sang to remind each other of His truth and to help one another meditate on the God’s words. They sang to pass this story on to their children and into the next generation. This had been going on for hundreds of years when Jesus came, lived, was crucified, resurrected, ascended and then left the Holy Spirit to guide His bride. The songs of God grew like a tidal wave and the word, the Gospel, and teachings of God through song were contextualized to reach ever-changing cultures. Fast forward to our current age and we've added all kinds of trappings to either hinder the singing or assist it. Whether or not the addition of instruments, sound and lights, has been helpful, the congregation is lifting up songs of truth as a demonstration that the pursuit of God's presence and his exaltation are just the same as they were thousands of years ago. The voices of the Church need to be heard with passion. As we all enter our gatherings we are in deep need of being reminded of the truths that are being sung around us. We should consider this as we think through our music and liturgies. We should create space and moments where the congregation can sing over each other and to God. I want the addicted man I'm sitting next to, to be singing over me and me singing over the addict. We all come into the presence in need of the truth. Sing it out!
Singing Hymns to War
The Church, Jesus' Bride, God's Wife, was made to sing! She was made to sing to and about her King. She was made for the proclamation of what her Savior has done. And as she is singing these truths God uses them to wash her, grow her, sanctify her and course correct her. The songs are important. Kevin Twitt states, "We gather to sing our songs so we will know the truth so well that we can go out into the world and we say, ‘We don't believe your lies anymore! We won't be squeezed into your mold!'" And so we can speak to our fearful heart and say, "Heart, I don't believe your lies anymore!" (or as Charles Wesley put it, "Arise my soul arise! Shake off your guilty fear!") because Jesus can trump even what my heart says! And Jesus does trump our hearts as He becomes beautiful and believable to us. That is why we gather in worship. That is why I urge you, use the hymns of the church! God is using them to mold us into truth, restore our sanity, and open our eyes to see Jesus as beautiful and believable."
Singing Hymns to Form Christ & Affection
Week after week the Church stands together heralding and proclaiming the beauty of Jesus through music and lyric. This profound mystery of singing forms Christ in people, reorients our affections for God, intersects people with the presence of God and reminds us of the beauty and power of the Gospel. What an amazing treasure for us to protect. Songs pass on the story of God, tell of His acts and miracles, remind us of truth, teach us scripture, encourage us to pursue God's presence, call for us to exalt Him, and spotlight His beauty and attributes. Songs wash us and grow us. Songs scatter the enemy, heal the broken, and they help direct our devotion to Jesus. Songs can move and energize us or create quiet reflective moments. Songs can help us tap into our angst and need for Jesus. Songs connect us with others and motivate us to live life in community. Songs give us language to speak when we've lost all our words and have forgotten how to pray.
Songs can come from God's heart and free people in an instant. Songs paint pictures of God that we can lift, point to, and gather our brothers and sisters around. These songs can call us to reflect upon and be amazed at the Father. Jesus’ great name is our song! So we sing it on the battlefield, in the mountains and valleys, prisons and at weddings. We sing this song over the sick and the healed, in the dark night and the bright day, we sing as we live and as we die. Jesus' great name is our song!
Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.