Picking Songs: Part 1
By Caris Power
Picking worship songs and putting together the order of service each week is one of the most fun and most daunting tasks I am privileged to do as part of my job every week on staff. I was once asked if I just picked my favorites each week to sing. I wish it were that easy. In fact, seldom do I consciously choose songs based on personal preferences. Instead there are many, many other things I consider.
In this first installment of “Picking Songs”, I’ll share about the first and most important test I put a new potential song through when I consider adding it to our song catalog.
Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.
Gordon Fee, Theologian
TEST ONE: Do the lyrics of the song faithfully represent Christ and His word?
Our worship should always point us to Christ and the best way for it to do that is for our worship to be Word-centered. The entirety of scripture points to Jesus, so it should be our guide in worship. Our worship music should faithfully represent the Word of God. God’s word is also what beckons us to worship.
John Stott, in his book The Contemporary Christian: Applying God’s Word to Today’s World he says, “God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who is he before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.” This is also why we often begin our services with a call to worship straight from scripture. We are allowing space for God to reveal himself, so we can immediately have something to respond to him in praise.
Someone once said, “we are what we sing.” Music has an uncanny way of helping us remember words. When we know the melody, we often know the lyrics, so let us sing songs that will allow the Word of Christ to “dwell in [us] richly” (Colossians 3:16).
Not every song we sing, though, needs to have us neck deep in theological treaties, but every word should be true and accurate of God and the historical narrative of scripture. Some songs may be simple and repetitive, allowing space for our hearts to open to the Spirit’s leading. They may not be rich in many truths, but what they do say should be true. As a whole, we should be able to review our church’s songbook, see what portrait of our God is painted, and feel confident we have represented the fullness of Christ worthily.
We’ll pick this topic up again in the future as we look at the how we pick the type of music that accompanies these valuable truths.
If you want to read more about this topic, I would highly recommend Bob Kauflin’s book, “Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God.” In particular, part two of the book covers much of the material covered in this blog.
I am praying that every opportunity we have to be together in corporate worship will increase our understanding, our trust, and our longing for the crucified and resurrected Christ.
See you Sunday,