Sunday, November 27, 2005

Impart What?

If you love Michael W. Smith's song "Ancient Words" (written by Lynn DeShazo), please skip this post. I'm feeling critical and grammatical and downright villainous.

I was sitting in church today and we began to sing "Ancient Words." You're probably familiar with the song, but in case you are not, here are the lyrics:

Holy words long preserved / for our walk in this world, / They resound with God's own heart / Oh, let the ancient words impart.

Words of life, words of hope / Give us strength, help us cope / In this world, where e'er we roam / Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true / Changing me, and changing you. / We have come with open hearts / Oh let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our faith / Handed down to this age. / Came to us through sacrifice / Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved / For our walk in this world. / They resound with God's own heart / Oh let the ancient words impart.

We have come with open hearts / Oh let the ancient words impart.

And while we were singing this song, I looked around at the congregants. They were worshiping. A few people had their eyes closed and their hands in the air. And I thought, We are worshiping the Bible. The song is not a song of praise to God for his revelation. It is a song praising the revelation. I certainly don't mind singing the praise of things in poem or song - this bird's regal bearing, that lady's beauty, yonder rock's jut, or even the scriptures' authority. And I am not trying to disrespect your favorite artist or Ms. DeShazo. But we don't bring these kinds of songs or poems into our church and use them to worship God. "Ancient Words," regardless of what else you might think about it, should not be peddled with the likes of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "In Christ Alone" any more than "She's Got a Way" should be. It's not that songs or poems praising something's beauty or singularity cannot or should not be used in church, but that they ought not to be used to lead people in God-adoration.

(My wife, who loves this song, is frowning fiercely nearby. So I'll shut it.)


alison said...

Haven't heard the song. Usually not such a MWS fan but I don't think I am hanging with you here, Buddy.

God is pretty jazzed about his word...and isn't it his creation?

I have someone eager for the computer. Will revisit.

And why would you want to go on and on about something your wife likes?

You might be a very, very, bad man.

Jamie Dawn said...

I was a music and women's ministry minister for several years before my throat ailment forced me to quit. I have found that people in a worship setting are too easily swayed. They don't tend to do much thinking at all.
You can orchestrate a worship experience with music swelling at certain points and key changes, etc... and the people pretty much follow like sheep. A fellow blog friend calls people, sheeple. He is so right in his assessment.
You are right to keep your mind engaged during worship services and at all times. In your example, no one is purposely doing something wrong, but it is good to always think about what your are saying and doing.

Scott said...

Jamie, I think you're right about us sheeple. And I didn't mean to imply (though I did) that we were a bunch of bibliolaters - I think the hearts of the people in my congregation were pure in their worship.

Alison, I am a very, very bad man. However, I have to keep it honest here and so, to be completely upfront and honest, I think green beans and broccoli are from the Pit even though my wife really likes them. ; )

I am God's creation and God is pretty jazzed about me and yet no one better be singing my praises in the middle of a worship service. There's plenty of time for that outside of church, after all.

ScottB said... I've never heard that song used as a part of the worship gathering before. And to be honest I don't know if it would have connected with me in that way, because it's not really a bad song in and of itself (if you like that sort of thing). But - yeah. I hear you loud and clear.

alison said...

I promise I will never sing a song of worship about you in church - before and after only.

I mean it. Really.