Hymns Modern and Apathetic

Apathy is my pet-peeve. I’m a naturally high-strung, energetic person who probably talks a few notches too loudly and is far too dramatic about simple situations!!!!!!!!

But for all my energy, I sure can be apathetic about worshiping the God who created and saved me.

I’m passionate about my sin and myself but not about praising a God who gave me the very breath I breathe. The God who preserved me from danger this past week – and all twenty-two years before. The God who gave me incredible family, fiance, and friends. The God who gave me a fantastic job and ministry – both of which I know I don’t deserve.

Not to mention the God who sent His Son to live a pain-filled life and die the most painful death.

Jesus faced hell for me. But I can’t even stand a half-hour of worship and prayer.

O idiotic man that I am!

As I’ve sought to develop a passion for my God, I’ve come to realize that my worship needs work. How often do I actually spend telling God how much I appreciate all He’s done for me? I probably spend more time thanking the Chick-Fil-A guy (“My pleasure!”) than I do my Creator!

Particularly in public worship, I realized I’d taken the approach of being apathetic because they didn’t choose the style of songs I liked. A Getty song? Sovereign Grace? Oh, I’m all over that – and I can genuinely praise God for that. If I feel like ti.

HymnalBut when an old rotting hymn gets trotted on stage like a decomposing zombie, I sing like I’m as dead as the guy who wrote it.

I say this sarcastically, betraying what has recently become a very bitter attitude toward hymns. But this week, my perspective changed. I began to listen to a live album by Sovereign Grace that included a lot of old hymns. And I’ve rediscovered a deep appreciation for these rich, old texts.

Let me be clear: I think both hymns and modern songs are important. I can fall too far on the modern side while others fall too heavily on hymns-only. As I’ve studied the issue, I’ve discovered that while the old hymns are rich on theology, they’re weak on emotion. And the new songs are weak in theology, but rich in emotion. But an old hymn sung in a more modern style or a modern song with deep theology…now that’s a song with balance.

But the key is this: theology must be mixed with the heart. For me, my worship became a recitation of words without any heart. To truly worship God, I want to come before Him with a heart on fire to exalt Him. Without any thought for my personal preferences. Hymn modern or ancient, I want to exalt Him.

Whether that be with the stirring words of “Arise, My Soul, Arise”:

My God is reconciled! His pardoning voice I hear.
He owns me for His child – I can no longer fear!

Or one of my personal favorites, the oft-neglected last stanza of “Come, Thou Fount”:

O that day when freed from sinning, (free!!)
I shall see Thy lovely face.
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace!

Or the life-altering last stanza of “And Can It Be”:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!

Or Jesus’ tender words of loyalty in “How Firm a Foundation”:

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (Did I mention never!?!)

No matter the song, ancient or modern, one thing is certain: God is so incredibly incredible, that I can’t help but sing to Him!

sing thy graceWere we to have a thousand tongues and a thousand notes, it wouldn’t be enough! Whether using an organ (my least favorite) or a guitar (acoustic, don’t worry), I don’t care. Let’s just worship God! With our emotions, with deep theology, with the spirit and understanding (1 Cor. 14:15), with psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs, let’s sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19).

Not just with lips moving. Not just with hands moving. Above all, I want my heart moving!

The only natural response to God’s salvation is to sing. As a modern hymn-writer, Matt Boswell puts it:

I will sing of the wonder of Jesus
And the cross that He bore for our sin.
I will sing of the love that has conquered the grave
And the day He’s returning again.
-M@
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