The Worship Quote of the Week for (03/14/2006):

Use Your Mind
We should know that a good sermon will be rich in biblical truth and practical application; but can the same be said of our expectations of sung worship? Do we engage our minds in the same way to ponder the truths of God’s Word and apply them with faithful Kingdom values? Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is from a great book by Donald Hustad and addresses the idea of using our minds when we sing (and when we listen to others sing).

Many American churchgoers seem to expect to use the MIND in worship, but only during the sermon. It’s at that point that typical pew-occupiers open their textbook (the Bible), get their pencils ready (to take notes), and put their brains in gear. You can almost sense the idea being passed from mind to mind, “Now the action really begins!”

Church music, too, should be heard WITH THE MIND. A hymn, a solo, an anthem, or a cantata is first of all a theological concept expressed in words. Consequently, musical worship should involve and transform the mind, as well as the body and the emotions. This concept must begin, of course, with worship planners. [See below for more from this paragraph.]

—Donald P. Hustad, JUBILATE! CHURCH MUSIC IN WORSHIP AND RENEWAL, from chapter 5, “The Nature of Christian Worship in Relation to Its Musical Expression.” Carol Stream: Hope Publishing Co., 1993, p. 121-22. ISBN 0-916642-17-8. This volume was formerly published as JUBILATE! CHURCH MUSIC IN THE EVANGELICAL TRADITION (Hope, 1981). Pastors and church musicians should own this book.

[How true! Many of us have witnessed the “dumbing down” of worship—not just in songs that say very little about the God of the Bible, but also in sermons that fail to challenge the heart and shape the mind toward the things of God. My dear friend Dr. Hustad has said it clearly, “Church music, too, should be heard with the mind.”]

This concept must begin, of course, with worship planners. They should select a piece of music on the basis of its conceptual ideas, and place it in the total worship experience so that it may have maximum intellectual meaning. If the music is sung from materials other than the hymnal, the text MUST BE REPRODUCED in the service bulletin; otherwise, there is little hope that it will have other than emotional (intuitive) meaning based on the musical sounds it contains. Further, the worshiper should hear the music with the expectation of understanding it. It is staggering to contemplate the possibility that university graduates (even seminary graduates and seminary professors), who regularly plow through abstruse technical (or theological) journals with full comprehension, will sing hymns in church with little thought that the words should have intellectual meaning for them. This illustrates one of the besetting worship sins of evangelicals, and unless the clergy (including music ministers) have worked faithfully to make music texts meaningful, they are more to blame than the laity for the present-day revolt against “theologically-loaded” music.

Have a great week,

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

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