Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Worship

First of all... thank you all for participating in yesterday's Toss-up... I love the fact that we all span the globe, (well, at least we span AMERICA) and represent all sorts of ages, some single, some married, some with kids, others without, and hopefully ... some grandmas! Each person feels passion about their thoughts on worship... and so we should.

This will be a long post, because how can you do a short one when you have to cover hymns and praise songs ... but I hope you stick with me, 'cause there's some good stuff in here... So, here we go...

Praise God ... I know I've said this before, but music really does speak to me. I love vertical praise -- a conversation through music straight from me to God -- up and down. I may not have written the words to the songs I sing, but they speak exactly what is on my heart and on my mind. I also love hymns that are horizontal praise -- songs that speak of what others have experienced and have been through... LIFE.

Hymns have a timeless quality about it. And like trees, their roots are deep, and strong, and have long out lived many people through many centuries! They reach deep into our hearts and provide us with the comforting "shade of knowledge" that others have been there, and have come out victorious... so we can too! Hymns have a longer life span than praise songs, and usually sing about our experiences and are filled with wondrous testimonies and encouragement that we take out to each other -- side to side -- me to you -- or, in this case, the writer of the hymn to me or you -- (hence, horizontal praise). They are generally written from particularly dramatic experiences by great and mighty people who have gone on before us, and had nothing other than their faith in Christ to lean on! And, as Shannon pointed out... they offer us a "powerful legacy of faith."

Shannon -- did you know that "the single most powerful hymn of the Protestant Reformation Movement was Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," based on Psalm 46. This hymn became the battle cry of the people, a great source of strength and inspiration even for those who were martyred for their convictions. Its majestic and thunderous proclamation of our faith is a singing symbol of the reformation." It's true... you can find this quote here, as well as stories to many other great hymns... like these:

I Love To Tell The Story and Tell Me The Old, Old Story - a young woman became very ill at 30, and while she was healing, she wrote a poem that contains the words to these songs.
I Need The Every Hour -- was written by a man that was walking in a crowded street when a little child put her hand in his and said "take me across the street to the other side." He was honored that the child trusted him so much, and wrote this song encouraging us to put our hand in the hand of Christ and trust Him.
The Doxology -- Known by every English speaking Protestant, has done more to teach the doctrine of the trinity than all the theology books ever written!
Great Is Thy Faithfulness - This hymn was written by a man that was born in a log cabin in Kentucky after his morning by morning realization of God's personal faithfulness.
His Eye Is On The Sparrow - I love this song. It was written by a woman who went to visit a depressed friend. She told her about how the Lord protected her during a long illness, and her depressed friend said, "You know I shouldn't worry, should I? We are promised in the Bible that God watches over the little sparrows." And with that, the woman went home and wrote this song!
It Is Well With My Soul - This is one of my absolute favorite hymns and stories - A man wanted to take his family on a vacation to Europe... he sent his family on ahead of him, planning to join them soon. Half way across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel, and it sank in 12 minutes. All FOUR of his daughters were among the people who drowned. His wife was one of the few who survived. This man stood on the deck of the ship taking him to join his grieving wife, and passed the place where his daughters had drowned -- He received comfort from God that enabled him to write the words of this hymn. Huh. Not sure if I could have found the comfort I needed to write a song about it, let alone, share it with anyone!!!
The Family of God - And finally ... as my last example, I'll share the one hymn that my church used to NEED to sing... over, and over, and over, and over, ad nauseum ... (oops... did I say that outloud?) -- it is written by the Gaithers -- this is an example of what at the time was considered contemporary music, and is now considered a classic hymn! Go figure!! The story behind this song, is really a testimony to modern day goings-on ... they knew a family who had a daughter that was getting ready to go through heart surgery. The father was working extra time in the garage that he employed him, to make up for lost time. He was working with combustible material, and there was an explosion. He managed to crash through the doors before the building went up in flames. He was severely burned, and not expected to survive. Here's what I'm sure you will find familiar... The whole church began to pray. The church building was kept open over night. People streamed in to pray for this young father. Then, the next morning, Easter morning, the doctors announced that he had passed the critical time period, and he was given a chance to live. The congregation rejoiced, and worshiped God in song... the church members pledged themselves to help with what would like ahead of them... help with the children, meals, trips to the hospitals, blood transfussions, money, and so much more support... On their way home from church that morning, the Gaithers were so overcome by what the church had been through, and they realized that they would do it for them, too... (Sound familiar? Yup, my church would do it for me, too!) Why? Because we're a Family of God. And that day, they sat down to write this song. (Note: So, really, I'm not sick and tired of the meaning of the song at all... I never will be. I'm just a little tired that we used to sing it all.the.time.)

Now... A praise song employs current modern-day language. They usually have words that invoke deep meditation... from our hearts and minds directly to God -- one on one -- up and down -- from me to God (hence, vertical worship). When I sing a praise song during worship, I can feel the beauty of the words, like flowers... the colors envelope me with joy and provoke a deeper meditation between me and my savior. Praise songs speak of what I'm feeling in the here and now. Hymns do too, but for some reason, praise songs take me up another level. Generally, praise songs are scripture put to music... for example, the Psalms. And praise songs are expressions of praise that come from my lips to be heard by and to honor God only.

While hymns cause me to reflect deeply, praise songs cause me to express freely. Both are needed in my time of worship. Both have their place, their role, and both complement each other so beautifully... just like flowers complement trees, and trees shade flowers. Praise songs allow me to thank God, praise God, honor God. Hymns cause me to think about God, think about my salvation, think about how I received my salvation.

We sang such an awesome song for worship this past Sunday ... so awesome, I want to share it with you today, because it is a perfect example of what I'm talking about... the words became MY words... and I found myself thanking God directly for all he has done for me... seen and un-seen. Maybe you recognize it? If so, sing along with me (nice and loud). The song really touched me, and I hope you enjoy the words, because I have no idea how to link you to the actual song... go to Lauren for that, because she is ultra techy and savy (and I'm ultra tech-norant as in - ignorant to technical stuff). But, you can go here for a quick clip here (it's song #3).

Thank You Lord (Performed by Don Moen, Words and Music by Paul Baloche and Don Moen)

I come before You today, and there's just one thing that I want to say: Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord, For all You've given to me, For all the blessings that I cannot see, Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord ...

With a grateful heart, With a song of praise, With an outstretched arm, I will bless Your name -- Thank You Lord, I just want to thank You Lord -- Thank You Lord, I just want to thank You Lord, Thank You Lord.

For all You've done in my life, You took my darkness and gave me Your light, Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord, You took my sin and my shame, You took my sickness and heal all my pain, Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord --

With a grateful heart, With a song of praise, With an outstretched arm, I will bless Your name -- Thank You Lord, I just want to thank You Lord -- Thank You Lord, I just want to thank You Lord, Thank You Lord.

Now, as if this isn't long enough... I just wanted to share a couple other comments with you that really struck a chord in me...

Stacey said: "It seems praise songs get real popular for a while and then kind of fade away but old hymns can and will be sung for many years to come."

and...

Kris said: "Hymns go deep - like the root of a tree and they stay around forever. Praise songs - they are short, sweet, and beautiful like flowers, but they come and go often."

Yup -- you are both right... because the words we use to praise change frequently, but the experience that one shares through a hymn never changes!

Peach said... "like trees and flowers, hymns and praise songs must co-exist. It's not that the tree alone is not beautiful and useful, for it provides shade and its own special kind of beauty. The flowers alone are also beautiful, refreshing and add color unlike the tree. Yet, my picture of worship is far more complete with the blending of both in my life." Oh, yes, Peach ... you are so right. I need a good blending of both in my life too.

Addie said: "... both awaken my heart to praise the God who created the mightiest of trees and the most delicate of flowers" Yes -- both hymns and choruses awaken my heart too!

Finally... Heth said: "I love when God moves on my heart and I am brought to tears while worshiping Him."
Basking in the Holy Spirit's love, and worshipping Him often brings me to tears. I realize how little I am in the great scheme of things, but yet... he still loves me sooo much -- even when he has other 'more important stuff' going on. And when I stop my busy-ness to acknowledge Him for all he has done for me (like with the song Thank You), then... BAM ... the tears start to flow as I revel in his awesomeness.

Okay -- that's all... I promise... I won't talk any more about worship. Thanks for sticking with me for this entire .... looooong.... and very wordy blog.

Love ya all!

6 comments:

Perri said...

Thanks for the lesson. I learned a lot from reading your post today.

Susanne said...

I love your blog. Couldn't tell you how I came across it though. Some round about way. I think it was probably very led of the Lord!What a wonderful post! I love to worship both with hymns & current praise & worship songs. I feel those who camp on only one side are missing so much! Our pastor is just doing a few connected sermons on weapons of warfare & worship is one of them. How exciting. The worshippers were put in the front of the army in the OT! Wow! Thanks again for the great post. It was a real blessing.

Shalee said...

I am so bummed that yesterday was so crazy that I missed Tuesday Toss-up!

So let me do an Wednesday Add-on instead. My first thoughts about hymns are about how they apply to every single person in any year in any country. Hymns resonate with the experiences of everyone. You don't have to have gone through any major experience to understand the faithfulness, gratitude or understanding of scripture of the composers. You just have to live life.

Also, the hymn that is new, but timeless that speaks to me is from this present time. It is called Song of Triumph by Dale Grotenhuis and it was written in response to his loosing his only son in a motorcycle accident. Beautiful confirmation that God is God and all is as it should be.

Peach said...

Wow! Information loaded, and I loved every last little bit of it. I agree with perri that today was a "learning" day with GiBee. Thanks for the scoop!

shannon from rocks in my dryer said...

GiBee, you keep those "wordy" posts coming--your words are always excellent!

GiBee said...

Perri -- just sharing my thoughts.

Susanne -- Thanks for coming around to Kisses of Sunshine! Do you have a blog? Also, I think in my flesshy mind, I might have faked a bad voice with a nasty cough if I was a worshipper in the OT... YIKES!

Shalee -- I can't find that hymn where I usually go to hear clips of songs... do you know where I can find it? It sounds very interesting and good! DO SHARE!

Peach - sorry to overload. Didn't mean to. I am so wordy!

Never mind. Shannon is encouraging me to keep the wordy posts coming. As if I COULDN'T hehehe!