Thursday, September 24, 2009

Christian Music Principle (3)

Before I get too side-tracked by a new term's teaching, I must try and complete these basic principles (as I see them).

3. Words in Christian worship have two functions.
Two audiences mean that words in Christian music have two functions - they are to praise God but also teach and affirm one another. As New Testament scholar Gordon Fee comments - in the early church singing was two-dimensional, offering "both praise to God and once directed toward God, and didactic for the participants." Contemporary hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty say that they write songs with a key principle in mind: "songs should teach the faith, telling truths about God and telling God's story."

First, telling truths about God needs care with words that need to be worthy of God's worthship. As Marva Dawn puts it: "is the text theologically sound? Is it true to God's it a Christian thought? Is it carefully expressed." Some have bemoaned, for example, that contemporary hymns rarely speak of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When I preached on temptation last year, the worship planners had difficulty finding any recent songs on the subject. Worthy words, true to God revealed in Scripture, are essential. And when planning gathered worship, they need to confirm the testimony of the preached word.

Second, telling God's story to each other needs care with words that (again in Dawn's words): "need to be conducive to the formation of character, and inclusive for the whole community." How appropriate is the language. Does it use "we" often enough?

Keith and Kristyn Getty describe their intention:
"Take "In Christ Alone" for instance. A lot of peole are moved by the fact that through the verses, Jesus takes on flesh as a helpless babe and ends up on the cross...they've sung through half of Romans by the end of the song, but because you've taken them through a story rather than just giving them didactic truth, it really communicates to them."

Words matter enormously. Words have great responsibility to convey God's worthiness and edify others.....cue the next principle on music inself!

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