“So, Why Do We Do That?” : A DSChurch Blog Series

Gospel-Hymns

Note: At Double Springs Church, there are some things we do on a weekly basis that some may see as unique. We believe these things to be Christ centered and to serve as aides to the mission we feel we’ve been given to Know Christ, Grow in Christ and make Christ Known. We strive to create an environment that serves as a catalyst for people to be redeemed, an incubator where new Christians can grow in their faith and a cathedral where people are provoked to good works and to sincere worship. From the Call to Worship to the Benediction, everything we say and do is carefully and prayerfully designed to bring glory to Christ and benefit His people.

 That being said, we realize that no matter how seriously or prayerfully we are in providing these aides for worship, and even when we understand and implement the “How” of what we do with precision and excellence…if we lose sight of the “why”…we’re in real trouble. When we forget the “why”, even the most beautiful and beneficial elements of or corporate worship gatherings can become mundane and mere tradition.

 So over the next several weeks we’ll address several of the elements of our weekly corporate worship services such as the aforementioned Call To Worship, the Doxology, Corporate Prayer, The Lords Supper, the benediction and so on. Our hope is to remind you of the “Why” so that the “how” really matters. We pray this Blog Series will refresh your soul and prompt worship that pleases God.

“WHY Do We Sing So Many Old Hymns?”

I’m asked often to describe the “style” of Worship at DSChurch. Let me say first off that I despise that question. I do so because I know the response that is being sought from me is for me to utter one of two words that I loathe…”traditional” or “contemporary“. My fingers couldnt withstand the exercise they’d get from typing up the plethora of reasons why I hate those two divisive and man-centered terms so I’ll not go there today (You’re welcome). Instead, I’ll give you the reply I usually give when that question of “worship style” at DSChurch is asked of me….

“Christ centered.”

If we were to have a “style”, I pray that “Christ centered” would best characterize it. That is our hope. That is our heart. That is our end goal.

We seek to provide a Christ centered expression of worship through song. To accomplish this, we make use of various forms of Music (NEVER with the goal of appeasing man, EVER with the goal of pleasing Christ). Yes, We do have hymn books and at the same time we do make use of two giant screens. The style of our music is varied as there are some modern choruses we use to promote worship among the people of God along with Ancient Hymns of the faith. Our Choir leads us to the Throne of Grace through selections that range from Chris Tomlins latest Christ exalting arrangement to Martin Luther’s timeless and doctrine specific hymns.

Our Goal, again, is Christ Centeredness.

We fully understand the fact that varied “styles” of music can help to create an atmosphere of worship that is conducive  for sincere worship. We embrace the fact that God didn’t stop inspiring song writers when Fanny Crosby died but the fact is, when it comes to corporate worship….for the most part, we intentionally rely upon Ancient Hymns of the Faith to lead us in Christ centered worship. Oh, we use any Biblically sound song that aides our mission but the vast majority of the worship music we use dates back, well, a long way.

It’s not that we’re stuck in yesteryear, stubbornly (and selfishly) refusing to change. It’s not simple nostalgia either. It’s not even a matter of preference. It’s that we believe that the use of these Hymns best helps us to accomplish our ultimate goal, Christ Centered worship.

It’s intentional….

Here is the “WHY” Of Our Using Old Hymns In Corporate Worship

1. Because Words Matter

The Old hymns that we use  contain certain terms of great Doctrinal and Theological truth that have all but “gone by the wayside” when it comes to todays vocabulary. The argument is often made that since these oft-forgotten terms aren’t employed in every day conversation, the use of them in corporate worship is foolishness. It’s said that these terms, which are central to our faith, are too hard to understand or even comprehend therefore it’s wise to replace them. I say that practice sells the congregation short and diminishes the role of Gods indwelling Spirit in our lives. I look at the use of Hymns in the same way I look at preaching…rather than dumbing teaching down, we are to lift the hearer up. The great terms that our older hymns use do just that. They challenge us to think deeply on what we are singing and I believe that leads to a more sincere worship experience.

On a side note – The form of hymns often exhibits better use of the English language. For that reason, hymns are often better able to encapsulate more truth through more words in better and more memorable images. We desire that our congregation to hears more truth in poetic images and rhymes so that they will remember them into adulthood–truths that I pray God will cause to sink into their hearts and cause them to love the God of the gospel that we’re singing about.

2. Because Of Their Motive and Guidance

It seems to me that the writers of the older hymns of our faith were motivated by a sincere desire to educate the worshipper, edify the Church and to exhort sincere worship. Thats not to say that modern composers don’t have the same goal as I’m sure most do but I do know that selling out stadiums simply wasnt on the radar of Wesley, Luther, Whitfield or Bliss. Take Luther, for instance. When he wrote The battle hymn of the Reformation, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, he wrote in with clear motives. This song wasnt going to win friends. As a matter of fact, this hymn was going to bring him great rouble. Yet his goal was clear…educate hearers of Doctrinal truth and edify the Church. As I read through timeless hymns I am consistently encouraged by the sincere motivation of the authors. 

Most Christians I know are fans of CS Lewis or at the very least admire him from afar. Below is something he wrote with regard to the value of reading old books. I would argue that the same principle holds true in the songs we sing as Christians, since the songs that we sing are intended to be educational and edifying.

Naturally, since I myself am I writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old…. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones…. We all … need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books…. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth [and to be certain, the twenty-first] century … lies where we have never suspected it…. None of us can fully escape this blindness…. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I am more than encouraged by the ever-increasing number of Gospel centered writers who are churning out rightly motivated music… yet we must also be cautious. The ‘characteristic blindness’ of our own age is invisible to us and we will be in danger unless we’re able to let the centuries of Christians who have gone before us inform us. Hymns tend to guide us.

3. Because We Need Consistent Reminders Of Our Own Heritage

 Too often we have been told by our Gospel opposing culture that the history of the church is nothing but a shameful stain of the garment of history. The Christian can quickly be shamed by all of the wrongs of the church through the ages. But the truth is…when we look back, though there are some dark spots for sure, we begin to uncover the treasures of our history that will help us to glorify Christ as His work through generations and generations of faithful believers comes to light.

We find in many of our Ancient Hymns the work that Christ was accomplishing in that generation is highlighted and we are reminded of His faithfulness. We’re filled with hope and encouragement as we ponder His work in previous generations for we know that He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. How He has moved in nations, families, individuals and generations in the past is a good indication of how He’ll move in the future. Old Hymns preach that truth.

3. Content, Content, Content

When it comes to Christ-centeredness in worship music…it’s all about content.

I know of no music that provides as rich, as sweet and powerful a content as the older hymns do. There is no cotton candy with the hymns, big and boisterous and colorful…until you take a bite and find there’s little substance. No, the hymns are a nothing short of a spiritual feast. There is meat and “taters” with all the trimmings, and what a satisfying meal it is!

Consider the substance of one of my personal favorites, let it soak in for a moment and worship

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.
Wash all my sins away,
wash all my sins away;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more,
be saved, to sin no more;
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more. 

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die,
and shall be till I die;
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing thy power to save,
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave,
lies silent in the grave;
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave

– William Cowper

“On that day a fountain will be opened…to wash away sin and impurity” Zechariah 13:1

Truth be told, we could go on and on here. We are blessed to be able to incorporate older hymns into our worship settings at DSChurch and to have  Biblically centered men like Bryan and faithful musicians like Anne and Glynnette who love older hymns to lead us in worship each week. Pray for them and thank them the next time you see them. So many of you encourage us by thanking us for not bypassing the great Hymns of our faith and we are appreciative yet deflect all the glory to Christ.

 I hope that this blog gives you a glimpse into the “why” of our use of older hymns. As a Church, we are committed to continue to employ them, as well as modern worship that helps to accomplish our mission as we march forward as a body of believers.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Kyle

 

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