Listening to bad music  Let’s face it, in the history of Gospel songwriting, at times there have been song lyrics that sound ridiculous.  In some cases, the titles alone say enough for thinking-Christians to be embarrassed at the apparent ignorance on display.  Consider titles like Ain’t No Flies on Jesus, Dropkick Me Jesus through the Goalpost of Life, among the frontrunners for worst.  Then there’s Put Your Snout to the Spout Where the Gospel Comes Out.   Just “drink in” this text (pardon the pun):

Put your snout to the spout where the gospel come out.
All get glory drunk.
Ah, get yourself a snoot of that glory toot
And we’ll never have so much fun.
Get your father and your mother and your sister, too.
Grab you brother, boys, and here’s what we’ll do:
We’ll put our snout to the spout where them gospel come out.
All get glory drunk.

Powerful stuff, huh?  Perhaps I should not get overly cynical, since the truth is that human words always struggle to fully display spiritual truth.  The most obvious offenders tend to be those rooted in human experience.  But then again, we must recognize most of us evangelicals have been frequently reminded by preachers and other evangelists that our salvation  involves a personal encounter with the Savior.  I have come to believe that the real struggle at issue is whether we place our faith in that experience, or if we root it more solidly in the work of that Savior, trusting or faithing, if you will, what He has done, His finished work (Hebrews 4:3).

There is clear value in following biblical instruction in worship, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, for therein lies a healthy repertoire rooted in historic worship practice, psalms; theologically rich praise and proclamation, hymns; and testimonial encouragement of God’s recent and present work in our lives, spiritual songs.  Even in the interpretation of our own experience we are likely to discover a more deeply reflective expression of our journey of faith.

At our TENNESSEE MENS CHORALE AND TENNESSEE LADIES CHORUS RETREAT this past week we had opportunity to express our worship, which included our shared experience in music-making with some rich texts given us by authors/composers/theologians, and developed by gifted musicians including our own.  The occasional tears were perhaps to be expected as a group of worshiping musicians sang such lyrics as these:

            Woven with melody, Thy Word is sweet to my soul

            In concert, in harmony Thy yoke is easy, easy.

            O blessed am I to sing my devotion

            O blessed am I

                                                                                                         from Sing a Mighty Song by Daniel Gawthrop

Or the beautiful self-emptying prayer of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Help me spread Your fragrance wherever I go

Flood my soul with Your Spirit and life.

            Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly

 that my life may be only a radiance of Yours

Shine through me and be so in me

  that every soul I know will feel Your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You.


              From Prayer, Words of Mother Teresa set to music of Rene Clausen

And this excerpt  from a song given by one of our own modern day gifted Baptist poets, Dr. Terry York:

            Music played, unafraid we are called to live His song…

            To live His song, to be His music,

            To know a harmony with Christ that sings and soars

            To live His song, even when sorrowing;

            To live His peace, His joy, His love, to live His song.

            Angel songs sung on earth

            Earthborn songs of second birth

            Choirs of sinners find their worth,

            We are called to live His song.

                                                                                            from To Live His Song by Terry York and David Schwoebel

In addition we offered ourselves to be sent in songs like:

            Lord of the harvest, place Your fire in me

            Servants you need now, servant I will be

             from Lord of the Harvest by Paul Smith as recorded by The Imperials

Life as a human being is full of daily experience, some is mundane, some feels profane, and on occasion there are moments that are spiritually rich.  On those occasions there is a sense that God is somehow pleased.  Those moments can be filled with laugher, tears, silence or cheers, but they are gifts no matter the accompanying emotion.  I am so grateful for the spirit of fellowship and sense of mission that characterizes our Tennessee Ladies Chorus and Tennessee Mens Chorale.  I truly wish every ministering musician in our churches could be a part of this sweet fellowship and missional organization.  I pray we will have more and more join our ranks that the Lord will be greatly praised through our singing and our worship, that His Name will be boldly proclaimed in our song, and that our churches will benefit from leaders that return home encouraged to build up the body of Christ!

About Paul Clark Jr

Worshiper, student of worship. Graduate of Robert E Webber Institute for Worship Studies (DWS), Director of Worship & Music Ministries for Tennessee Baptist Convention. Musician, Clinician, Conference Leader, Teacher, Author, Worship Music Leader, Husband, Father, Grandfather, fellow traveler.

Posted on September 10, 2013, in Tennessee Music Ministers, Tennessee Pastors, Worship Leaders, Worship Renewal, Youth Choir. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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