Friday, December 2, 2016
Worship Him in Song!
I figured, what a better song to start Advent meditations than the wonderfully simple, but profoundly meaningful hymn, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Let’s take a look at it:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
I love it! This song is concisely precise praise! I didn’t grow up listening or singing hymns, but over the years I have been able to gain deep appreciation for them. I have learned a lot about our faith through the help of hymns. Actually, that is one of the primary purposes of hymns: to teach us the principles of our faith and to present the truth about God through song. We know, instinctively, that singing helps us acquire knowledge. Think about every time you need to remember the order of the letters in the alphabet…what do you do? You start singing the alphabet, right? I mean, really…Elementary teachers have known the power of song as a learning tool forever! Teachers also know that music makes people happy. It changes the mood. It touches our emotions. We see then, music carries with it two of the most effective teaching/learning elements: the power to help people memorize concepts and the power to encourage positive moods and to bring people in touch with their emotions. What a great learning tool!
However, there is another purpose for hymns and Christian music in general: we are commanded to sing praises to the Lord!
Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. Psalm 33: 1-3
The Bible tells us to Sing to the Lord very often. Therefore, we need to remember that singing is God-ordained! We are expected to sing! I can’t sing, though…my family keeps reminding me every time I attempt to singing…but I must sing, nevertheless, because God wants me to. It’s just as simple as that. But, why does God want us to sing, I wonder? Well, singing is a way of worshiping Him.
What is worship? This is a sticky subject because of our differences in doctrines and traditions, but I read a definition of worship that I found very helpful, at least for me: “Christian worship is an expression of our affections that are evoked when we encounter the True and Living God.” (Greg Stiekes: http://religiousaffections.org/articles/hymnody/purpose-power-christian-hymnody/)
Like Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4: 24
Therefore, worship happens when we know Truth and when we are in touch with the Spirit. Hymns and Biblically sound Christian music help us accomplish both: through their theologically based lyrics, we learn and encounter Truth, and through their music we cultivate the Spirit as we are touched emotionally in a way that allows us to express our affection for the God who is Spirit and Love. All that, just to say that exploring Advent through the lyrics and music of our beloved hymns and songs could be not just fun, but also a profound form of worship, and a sound way to help us be intentional about the Christmas Season.
Tomorrow we will get back to “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” since we have just run out of time today.