(Ephesians 5:18b-20 NRSV) … be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Most of us remember that worshipers in earlier centuries learned Christian doctrine, virtues and values from the songs they sang. If you thumb through an old hymnal, you will find songs about perseverance, holiness, the deity of Christ, the sovereignty of God, devotion to God, kindness to our neighbors and a host of other teachings. Having songs that taught the faith and would be carried outside of the worship space was important for several reasons. To begin, many of the worshipers of previous centuries were non-readers. Packaging the faith in a tune was just one of several ways that teaching took place. Another benefit was evangelism. Practically every Christian awakening or revival period has been known by its music. However, we often forget that memorized songs are also a means of discipleship. Music hidden in the heart often rises up at odd moments to instruct, comfort or warn.
Do your worshipers remember the songs that you sang in church after worship is over and they have returned to their homes?
A second question to consider: is your music in a form that can be carried away from church? By this, I mean, are you using memorable, singable songs? People in the music industry tell us that songs are often either lyric driven or music driven. Lyric-driven songs are often carefully worded poems or reflections set to music. The words and their meaning catch our attention, give us pause, cause us to think. Music-driven songs are very different. As the description hints, we remember the beat, or tune of the song while the words may get lost in the background. The music industry suggests that a “good” song is one that has both meaningful lyrics and a memorable tune. As we think of Christian music that survives more than one generation, we often find the same to be true. These are songs with a good theological message and memorable singable tunes that beg to be memorized and repeated.
Several weeks ago, I asked members of our faculty for a list of the top ten Christian songs that they felt should be memorized. I would like to extend this survey to you. Which ten songs would you hope that every Christian in your congregation knew from memory? Songs on your list can come from any century.
If you would like to participate, the link is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NDTC5KB. This link will be open until September 1, 2013. Please feel free to share this link with your networks. I plan to write a short article about the findings after data has been collected and analyzed. I am sure that the survey results will be interesting!
I hope that you will take a few moments to participate!