Saturday, June 26, 2010


"With Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs...let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you." Colossians 3:16

I like Paul’s emphasis on the Word of Christ richly dwelling in us.
As an English teacher I see the adverse results technology is having on reading skills. People skim over e-mails searching for important words. They glance at web pages looking for a key idea or, better yet, a great visual. They don’t, at least not yet, struggle with the limits of 140 characters dictated by Twitter. However, ask them to read, comprehend and think about a passage that will take longer than ten minutes and trouble sets in. As much as I like technology, if it’s such a valuable tool, why are reading scores not improving for today's youth? Ahhh, a topic for another post.
Technology is not being used to develop rich reading experiences where people can dwell on ideas and implications. What’s lost? Thought, insight, analysis, understanding. As an educator I want my students to be at the end of Bloom’s taxonomy not stuck on factually recalling the name of Alfred’s pet pig. How does this relate to Colossians 3:16? The hymns we sing should help us richly dwell within Christ’s Word. If they don’t then what’s the point?

Dwell: verb (used without object) to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing

By examining what the hymn teaches we also benefit from richly dwelling in what God’s Word teaches.

“Songs conveyed some of the Bibles’ greatest teachings. Great expressions of joy
and thankfulness naturally flow from the rich doctrine of Christ. “Certainly you
will not release a stronger incense or other repellant against the devil than to
be engaged by God’s commandments and words, and speak, sing or think them.”
(Large Catechism. Martin Luther. Preface 10)

So with those preliminary thoughts let’s look at -Lincoln Brewster’s, "Let the Praises Ring" to see what the song teaches.

Verse 1:
Oh Lord my God in You I put my trust

Oh Lord my God in You I put my hope

Oh Lord my God in You I put my trust

Oh Lord my God in You I put my hope

WDTHT? It’s clear the focus of this song begins with what we do. We put our trust and hope in God. While certainly not an evil idea, I’d like to know why we are putting our trust and hope, our trust and hope in God. This is crucial. If the reasons for our actions are not clarified, they are not taught and they are not properly understood. We must always clearly teach who Christ is and what He has done for us because we are motivated by the Gospel. Our lives are a joyful response to what God, through Christ, has accomplished for us. Verse one doesn’t reveal who Christ is or what he has done. Perhaps this comes later in the song *


In You In You I find my peace

In You In You I find my strength

In You I live and move and breathe

Let everything I say and do

Be founded by my faith in You

I lift up holy hands and sing

Let the praises ring!

WDTHT? Why do we find peace and strength in “You”. I’m assuming this is Christ. I can only assume because it’s not clarified. Perhaps people think I am too picky with this criticism? Relax, Brandt. Of course, it’s Christ. That much is obvious. Well, it’s not obvious. The mantra I hear about the power of praise music is that it’s more relevant and engaging for those young in their faith or new to the church. The young in their faith and/or new to the church need to hear the clear message of who our Savior is, what he’s done for us and why that matters today and for our eternity. If that message is not taught in the song, what’s the point?

I also don’t understand the meaning of “In You I live and move and breathe”. Is this just poetic diction conveying an emotional idea? What’s the emotional idea and why should everything we “say and do be founded by my faith in You”? What does the hymn teach? Our actions should be grounded in God’s saving grace in Christ but this song doesn’t teach that lesson. We wouldn’t accept these vagaries when asking for directions or when filling out our tax forms or when applying to a college? Why accept them with our Lord and Savior?

Verse 2:
Oh Lord my God to You I give my hands

Oh Lord my God to You I give my feet

Oh Lord my God to You I give my everything

Oh Lord my God to You I give my life

WDTHT? Verse two continues the anthropocentric focus. We are giving our hands, feet, everything and life to God. If we are giving our hands and our feet, then why not give our tongues and our eyes and our toes and our ears and our clavicles? Oh, wait. That’s covered in the next two lines when we give our “everything” and our “life.” What exactly is the difference between those last two items?

Why are we doing all this giving? What is our motivation? Why is the focus on what we are doing? Because the song doesn’t answer this question, those singing this song must only guess because they are not being taught that Christ’s death and resurrection have redeemed us and we live sanctified lives in response to the forgiveness in Christ, the mercy in Christ, the hope in Christ.
Now some may think I’m hypercritical just because I’m old and/or I don’t like praise music. I’m critical because the song doesn’t teach what we all need to hear. The song doesn’t teach who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross. The song doesn’t provide the explanations as to why we should live a sanctified, God-pleasing life. The song simply doesn’t teach. It may be harmoniously euphoric, effusively emotional and soul-stirring (whatever that may mean), but it simply doesn’t teach the message we all need to hear.

For my conclusion, I return to the beginning:
"With Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs...let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you." Colossians 3:16

How can the Word of Christ richly dwell within us through this song? It can’t. This song is an emotional appeal to our actions without proclaiming Christ crucified. It may leave you feeling good about all that you are doing for God, but it certainly doesn’t teach what Christ has done for us. It certainly doesn’t offer an explanation of Christ the Redeemer. It certainly doesn’t “let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you.”

What kind of song does all that? This one: “By Grace I’m Saved”: Words. or Listen to the recording from last year’s Higher Things conference.


Josh Evans said...

"I give you my life" especially intrigues me and is exactly what I find wrong with contemporary worship songs. Last I checked, the Lutheran Confessions preach Christ crucified, not man crucified. It was he who gave his life on our behalf for the forgiveness of sins. Even if the lyricist is alluding to the doctrine of sanctification, I still find his methods troubling because, as you said, it's not clear, let alone theologically sound.

I've been away from the blogosphere for several weeks, but I really do enjoy the new WDTHT posts. By way of suggestion, perhaps it would be interesting to choose a hymn from a GIA hymnal (Catholic). "Gather" is the one my grandma's church uses.

JBrandt said...

Thanks for the comments, Josh. Sanctification must always be understood as a joyful and filled response to justification. Without the latter, the former is works righteousness.

سما احمد said...

شركة تنظيف قصور شمال الرياض
شركة تنظيف قصور غرب الرياض

شركة تنظيف قصور جنوب الرياض
مستودعات لتخزين الاثاث بالرياض
شركة ديكورات
شركة تشطيبات فلل بالرياض
شركة تشطيبات شقق بالرياض
تصاميم فلل

شركة تنظيف عمائر بالرياض
شركة نقل وتغليف عفش بالرياض
شركات تنظيف الستائر بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مدارس بالرياض

سما احمد said...

حل ارتفاع فاتورة المياه بالرياض
شركات العزل الحراري بالرياض
شركات عزل مائي بالرياض
شركة تنظيف انتريهات بالرياض
ارقام نقل العفش
تهريب الحمامات والمطابخ بالرياض
دهانات غرف نوم
التخلص من الحشرات المنزلية
شركة مكافحة الفئران بالرياض
شركة مكافحة الفئران شرق الرياض
شركة مكافحة الفئران شمال الرياض
شركة مكافحة الفئران غرب الرياض