Friday, 13 March 2009

Worship songs that changed my life: NUMBER THREE

I have never really been part of a "traditional" church. My background is independent charismatic, Vineyard and latterly, Newfrontiers.

I have never really had the foundation of the "good old hymns". In fact, in some ways the charismatic music scene of the late 70s-early 80s into which I was born was something of a movement away from the old hymns.

Only in the last ten years or so has stuff like "Be thou my vision" and "How great thou art" have come back into vogue, along with "When I survey" or "Crown him with many crowns".

My song choice here is a Charles Wesley classic. Steeped in revival, sung by countless millions across the globe, and an absolute pearler.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

I think this hymn above any other made me really quite uneasy about some modern songs. How will some of the fluffy bunny "Jesus is my girlfriend" type, "Me, I, Me, I", "feel, feel, feel" songs sound in 20 years time? We won't know. No-one will be singing them. They will have gone through "Songs of Fellowship" and into the Greenbelt bargain bin within a decade.

We will still be singing this hymn. Instead of ignoring the heritage of Christian worship in this country we should build upon it: which is probably why Stuart Townend has had such success with his modern day "hymns".

"I" may not "feel" too "fluffy" when I start singing this song, but by the end my eyes are on Him and my destiny in His calling. It is a chunky, gutsy, rousing story of what Christ has achieved for us and what we look forward to. A juggernaut of a song on a highway of mediocrity.

2 comments:

PamBG said...

Yep, that's what us oldies have been saying forever about modern worship songs.

In actual fact, I think that the two types of songs have different functions. The function of worship songs is, well, worship. To induce a mood and a feeling in people.

The function of old-fashioned hymns is to teach theology. There are still many Methodists who will quote hymns when making a theological point. It was a good way for people who couldn't read to learn theology.

Although I appreciate being able to worship in an emotive way, you've hit on the reason I prefer hymns.

dave bish said...

Pam,

Strange though cos my impression is that the richer the theology (when well written and well scored) the richer the 'experience' of worship..

"I love you Lord" is entirely fine, but it gains its depth not by an eastern meditation or pagan repetition but from the 'doctrine' - who is this Lord? what has he done etc?