This post is by Karen Bozeman.
I love praise and worship. Songs and hymns help me refocus, removing the grating noise of daily life. Music fills up my “soul holes” and regenerates my sagging spirit. Yet how many times have we heard this complaint about worship songs? I don’t like these 7-11 songs. These songs are just the same seven words repeated 11 times.
Singing requires me to actively participate in the worship process. I can sing a song, or I can praise God. I can watch the words on the screen or in the hymnal, or I can use the words to worship the God who made me and deserves my adoration.
So should I discount a hymn or praise song simply because it is repetitive? The songwriter was inspired to pen the words and music. The lyrics brought them to the feet of Jesus. The writer had worship in mind as they composed the music. Repetition clarifies an idea and can imprint words into my memory.
First, I must recognize that I am singing to a God that is holy. God, perfect in righteousness and goodness, is worthy of my praise. Scripture reinforces this overarching characteristic of God. 1 Samuel 2:2 states “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” God alone is to be worshiped and adored.
When the song begins, I need to hear it. Sometimes this is tough. Distractions surround me like the wiggly four-year-old next to me or the cell phone ringing across the auditorium. Sometimes I push the song out of my head because I don’t know it. More than once, the Bible tells us to “hear.” Even the Old Testament Shema begins, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) It usually takes me the first two “repetitions” to really hear the song. Once I do, it’s in my head. I comprehend the words and understand what they mean.
If I stopped with head-knowledge, I didn’t really worship. I just sang a song. But when I allow the words to wash over me, penetrating my heart, worship begins. As I sing the words the third and fourth time, I must allow them to leave an imprint on my heart. What do these lyrics say to me at this moment? It should humble me to know that I am standing before the God of the Universe, offering Him my praise and adoration. I may need heart-healing and can’t fully worship because I’m sad or in pain, so I need to reflect on the words because they bring renewed hope. As David wrote, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1) David knew that worship must come from our souls, the spiritual part of our being.
If I am really entering worship with humility and recognizing that God is holy, my spirit is regenerated. As I continue to sing the words, the world’s filth is washed away, and I can stand clean before my Lord. Isaiah 57: 15 says
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
The repetition of the words and phrases can revive my spirit and my heart, allowing me to fully recognize the “high and exalted One.”
When the song ends, my heart and hands are now full of His divine love that should be extended to others. True worship is active and produces action. The Great Commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Worship shouldn’t stop when the last chord sounds. I should carry it with me, loving my neighbor as a demonstration of His love for me.
Karen is a retired educator who uses her time to teach Bible study at local women’s shelters and mentor at a Christian women’s job readiness program. She is a part of the Hello Mornings writing team and has contributed to many studies. Karen also writes and edits for her church, and her monthly devotionals can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mobberlywomenlongview/
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