**Today's quotes are rather long, so don't bothering trying to quote them, unless of course you'd like to SING them.
Today's post is about my two favorite "hymns."
Before I start, you have to understand that I do not come from a background of hymns. My church (Church of the Living God) is what you would "technically" call (denominations are overrated in my opinion...) Charismatic Evangelical...
My church strives to create Biblical and vibrant worship and we sing mostly contemporary songs by artists such as Hillsong, United, and Jesus Culture. The names Reuben Morgan, Kim Walker, Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jonathan Stockstill, Chris Tomlin, and Misty Edwards frequent the bottom of our song charts. I, having grown up in the church and now being an active part of our worship team, am wholly accustomed to an electric guitar, a drum set, projection screen, and modern sound. Most of the hymns that I know have been introduced to me by other sources, as there are only a handful that we sing at CLG on a regular basis.
That is just the way that I have grown up.
But wait, before I dig myself into a hole, let me say that I am NOT implying that there is something wrong with hymns. I am also not saying that worship is a sound, a look, or a certain 'flavor' of music.
Worship isn't words in a song or chord progression. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship is a mindset. Worship is an expression of your heart toward God.
You could sing, all day long, the very best of Christian music, in the very best of churches, and still not be worshiping.
The Bible talks of God wanting worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth; with all their being. Not just with sound coming out of their lips, as they read some lyrics off of screen, or out of a hymnal. Just just singing because someone said they had to.
I have learned that worship cannot depend on a band. It cannot depend on the lighting. It cannot depend on the person next to you. It cannot depend on whether or not you like the song.
And seeing that changed things for me. I can worship alone. I worship with a mic in my hand. With a keyboard at my fingertips. I can worship sitting on the floor with nothing but me and a guitar. I can worship in front of 5,000 people, or seated behind the wheel of my car. I can worship with laser lights flashing or in quiet stillness. (...I can worship in a box, I can worship with a fox...? Okay. Sorry.)
As a kid I realized that worship wasn't a congregational game of 'Simon Says.' My life was changed.
Now, worship is my life.
Anyway, back on track...
I have experienced a lot outside of the walls of my own church. I have been to lots of churches, in lots of places, singing lots of things, and I have seen the diversity of the body of Christ. And I like it that way. Often people get caught up in dominations or titles and the body of Christ becomes dis-unified. I've learned that the body extends WAAAAAAYYYYYY beyond the walls of Church of the Living God. And while we worship well, not everyone has to do everything exactly like us in order for it to be "right".
In all of my experiences, I have come to the realization that I actually like hymns.
But there are two songs, written in the style of hymns, by a man named Stuart Townsend, which I particularly love.
As you read them, pay attention and think about the lyrics. Pretty powerful stuff.
----IN CHRIST ALONE -Stuart Townsend & Keith Getty, 2002 ----
In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day, up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
--HOW DEEP THE FATHER'S LOVE FOR US- Stuart Townsend, 2004 --
How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there, Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart; His wounds have paid my ransom
*and just by the way, an honorable mention goes out to "On Jordan's Stormy Banks", my third favorite hymn..."SONG NUMBER 94!"
And "Beautiful, Scandalous Night" comes in fourth. Sadly, no one ever seems to sing that one. Maybe they should have named it something different...?