Worship music is ever-in-transition. Always has been, always will be.
We often talk of those “old” hymns that have been incredibly formative in our religious upbringing or discipleship journeys. For every church-going believer (and even some not-yet-believers), there is probably some hymn which has been meaningful at some point in their lives. We punctuate our lives with them…weddings, funerals, with lots of “routine” Sundays in between.
But, if you’re like me, there was a point when you were “Exposed” (makes it sound like some contagious illness or airborne disease, doesn’t it?) to something new…something fresh, something different than the “hymns” you sang in church or heard in church in days gone by.
As I listened to the new Passion record a few weeks ago, I was taken aback when, after I had put it on shuffle for a while, a simple chorus of Matt Redman’s older tune “Heart of Worship” came on in the midst of a sea of new (some of it really nice) worship music.
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship…
Where it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it.
When it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus.”
Even though I’ve known it for years and went through a phase at ACU where I was leading it quite often in our Wednesday night service at So. Hills, it’s simplicity struck me as so powerful…and even though it was not the song I most poignantly remember as a “game changer” in my view of what worship music looked, sounded and “felt” like, it sent me back to a litany of times and places where some “new songs” really took me to a deeper level. I’ll probably be flooded with a list of memories and songs after I hit publish…and I may come back to that at a later date…
The simplicity of the sound, the form, the lyric…all just reminded me of what’s so important about what we communicate in the songs we sing in worship. I think what was at the core of an entire movement of new worship music, and to some degree, still remains at the core, was a desire of worship writers to go back to what was of “first importance,” to borrow Paul’s words. As a dear friend & brother of mine often says we must “keep the main thing, the main thing,” in the realm of what worship is most about. And for many of these writers? That’s exactly what they were and are doing. Going back to what is primary, foundational… and that is the fact that worship isn’t about us. And I don’t know about you, but I constantly need to be reminded, especially in worship, that it’s not about me. May we all go back to the heart of worship.
I have said for years when we start talking about what “I like” in worship we have lost our focus. You will rarely here me publicly express songs that I like/dislike for this very reason. Years ago I was very turned off by people expressing how they wanted to worship and it forever changed how I express that. Almost to a fault, if you ask me what my favorite songs are, I have a very hard time telling you.