On Friday night Rebekah and I had the privilege to go to a Stuart Townend concert at Kensington Baptist Church in Bristol for Rebekah’s birthday. Together with musicians like the Getty’s he has written many contemporary hymns and songs that have become classics such as In Christ Alone.
Recently in our readings we came across this passage of celebration, praise and worship:
6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.7 And the women sang to one another… (1 Sam 18:6-7 ESV)
Music has played a central role in God’s people worshipping Him for ages. Ever since the creation of angels in heaven beings have been praising the LORD in song.
I am a firm believer that in every age of the Church believers have produced both great pieces and those that are best perhaps forgotten. The very best of our songs of praise from each era rise to the top and stand the test of time.
Often some of the best music in Christian history has been written during periods of revival (think of songs such as Amazing Grace written during the Evangelical Revival in Britain). About a half-century ago, there were few new songs being produced. Then about 30-40 years ago there began to be a surge of new songs (some good, some not so) that added to our repertoire. Sadly surge this coincided with the cultural movement known as post-modernism that emphasizes the subjective. This meant many songs were light on doctrine and while great sounding tended to focus on one’s experience in worship vs. conveying anything enduringly meaningful (and in the most extreme cases failing to overtly remember worship is not ultimately about us at all but the Lord).
There have been in recent years a number of Christian artists that have sought to have as their motto “doctrine+sound.” Such individuals and groups have sought to write songs that blend a robustness that had been lacking in such a way that the sounds also engaged and uplifted. Some names of mention would be the Getty’s, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Stuart Townend to name a few.
At Friday night’s concert Stuart spoke of different types of songs that can help the church be edified that go far beyond the monotonous repetitions of some worship choruses.
He spoke about songs that:
- Teach doctrine and robustly present specific themes
- Tell Bible stories
Of songs that go beyond the category of praise to include:
- Songs that help us worship outside the gathered church.
Below is a small sampling of some songs from this concert that capture some of these points:
May we continue to worship the Lord through music and with our lives and may the Lord continue to bless those musicians either professional or congregation who He uses to build up His Church.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,