Thursday, September 23, 2010

About God, to God

A couple of years ago, my husband and I heard a currently fairly popular preacher declare, in defense of modern worship music, "In the olden days, we sang songs about God. Now we sing songs to God."

Shawn pondered on that for a long while. It stuck with him.

Once when my brother was visiting, we went for a walk, and Shawn related that statement to Paul and asked him, "Do you think God is more pleased when we sing about Him, or when we sing to Him?"

Paul never answers a question quickly. After walking in silence for awhile, thinking carefully and looking at the road, he raised his eyes and responded with slow, measured words, "I think God is most pleased when we sing about Him, to Him."

Modern songs are very simple. There can be great beauty in simplicity, but there is also beauty in intricacy. I think it is a grave sadness that many church members simply no longer possess the vocabulary nor the ability to interpret poetry that would allow them to comprehend the glorious truths expressed in some of the old songs.

I fear that in a number of the new songs (not all, certainly, but quite a few), we get so caught up in singing to God that we forget about who He is, and instead focus on our own feelings and actions: "I'm singing... " or "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say..." And all of a sudden, what we think we are singing to God becomes mainly a form of self-expression for our own thoughts, feelings and ideas. If we are not on guard, our worship can quickly become all about us rather than all about God.

Here is a song that is about God, sung to God, in praise of His attributes. And it comes from 1 Timothy 1:17...

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish -- but naught changeth Thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All praise we would render; oh help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!

Now that is a song we can sing to God, about Himself. I'm not sure that it's accurate about the angels veiling their sight as they adore Him, but other than that, I think it's a pretty wonderful expression of the magnitude of the Lord.


Cal said...

I recently found your blog, and I really enjoy reading it. I may not always agree, but i appreciate your point of view :).

Ruth said...

Why thank you, Cal. My husband doesn't always agree with me either, so you're in good company.

Cal said...

I think life is a bit more fun with a few small disagreements.