The Worship Quote of the Week for (01/08/2002):

Worship in Truth
Well, was it the words or the music of that congregational song that spoke to
you so deeply? Or was it some wonderful combination of the melody and poetry
that moved your heart to worship God so profoundly? Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE
tries to bring some clarity to this important question. Our author is Don

I believe we should consider church music basically to be THEOLOGICAL
expression—part of the dialogue between God and worshipers. With few
exceptions, music in worship is coupled with important words. For this
reason, we should choose literature—for instance, hymns and choir pieces—in
which the music "fits" the text. True, good words may be supported and
enhanced by a variety of musics. But the music, or dance, or any other art,
must be the SERVANT of theological truth, not the master. This is an
unchanging principle in this day of right-brain, aesthetic-emotional
preoccupation in worship: God must be worshiped in full theological truth.

Illinois: Harold Shaw/Hope, 1998, p. 62. ISBN 0-87788-838-8

[Personal confession: In my experience, there have many times when a familiar
sacred text has exploded into theological truth when it has been released
from the bondage of overly familiar or exceptionally beautiful music. Music
often enhances words, but, for me, powerful music also has the potential of
inappropriately overwhelming or disguising theological truth. Sometimes all I
have to do is carefully read the hymn or song as a poem, and then put it back
where it was with melody and harmony. Voilá! The perfect combination! I am
sure that there are other trained musicians who deal with this occupational

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky