One of those pieces is titled “Favorite Hymns of Different Professions”. I thought I would re-post it here today…
The Dentist's Hymn ... Crown Him With Many Crowns
The Weatherman's Hymn ... There Shall Be Showers Of Blessing
The Contractor's Hymn ... The Church's One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn ... Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn ... There Is A Green Hill Far Away
The Politician's Hymn ... Standing On The Promises
The Optometrist's Hymn ... Open My Eyes That I May See
The IRS Agent's Hymn ... I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn ... Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn ... Send The Light
The Shopper's Hymn ... In The Sweet By and By
The Realtor's Hymn ... I've Got A Mansion Just Over The Hilltop
The Pilot's Hymn ... I'll Fly Away
The Paramedic's Hymn ... Revive Us Again
The Judge's Hymn ... Almost Persuaded
The Psychiatrist's Hymn ... Just A Little Talk With Jesus
The Architect's Hymn ... How Firm A Foundation
The Credit Card Telemarketer's Hymn ... A Charge To Keep I Have
The Zoo Keeper's Hymn ... All Creatures Of Our God And King
The Postal Worker's Hymn ... So Send I You
The Waiter's Hymn ... Fill My Cup, Lord
The Gardener's Hymn ... Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming
The Lifeguard's Hymn ... Rescue The Perishing
The Criminal's Hymn ... Search Me, O God
The Baker's Hymn ... When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
The Shoe Repairer's Hymn ... It Is Well With My Soul
The Travel Agent's Hymn ... Anywhere With Jesus
The Geologist's Hymn ... Rock Of Ages
The Hematologist's Hymn ... Are You Washed In The Blood?
The Men's Wear Clerk's Hymn ... Blest Be The Tie
The Umpire's Hymn ... I Need No Other Argument
The Librarian's Hymn ... Whispering Hope*
Of course, all believers have their favorite hymns, songs, and tunes. The same is true for you and me. And to be honest, we all have those hymns, songs, and tunes that we do not like as well. (And if you grew up as a Baptist, you probably have an affinity for the first, second, and last stanzas of many a hymn, but not the third!)
This week, we have been undertaking summer Worship Camp at our church, for kids who have completed Kindergarten through the 5th grade. This year’s theme is “Eye on It!”, from Toby Mac’s song of the same title. This is our ninth year doing worship camp; and we are thankful that our participation level grows most every year. It is good to see boys and girls embracing the public worship of God as they learn the arts of singing, playing, recital, performance, drama, black light, creative movement, and the like.
Worship, of course, is a very “hot potato” in the modern church. Entire web sites are devoted to this subject. But worship wars are really nothing new. As a child, I instinctively understood this. In the little country church my family attended, we first sang from the old 1933 American Hymnal (by Broadman Press), then from the actual 1948 Broadman hymnal, then from the 1956 Baptist hymnal, then from the 1975 hymnal, then from the 1991 Baptist hymnal, etc… Now there is yet another: the 2008 hymnal. And each of these, in their respective time, introduced "new-fangled" music, to which it took people quite a while to adjust.
A case in point: when Bill Gaither’s music first showed up in the Baptist hymnal of 1975, suffice it to say that it was met with some resistance, particularly by the older generation. At the time, many well-meaning Christians simply did not like or accept his music. But now, 39 years later, the songs he wrote (including such classic works as “He Touched Me”, “The King Is Coming”, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord”, “Because He Lives”, and “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”, among others) are all considered standard fare for traditional Christian worship today.
In truth, this cycle has been repeated over and over throughout Christian history. In the 1700s, Charles Wesley wrote over 6000 classic Christian hymns. But when he first brought an organ into a church, people accused him of being irreverent for bringing profane “tavern music” into God’s house. Yet, within a short century or two, no self-respecting church was without both a piano and an organ. Martin Luther faced similar criticisms in the era of the Protestant Reformation in the early to mid 1500s.
My only point is that musical styles change. They always have and they always will. What matters is that only the God of the Bible and the Book that relates His story do not change. And His people are called to worship Him in every generation – be that with lyre and harp in the Old Testament or with Gregorian chant in the Middle Ages or with cornet(t), flute, and hurdy-gurdy in the Renaissance or with organ and piano in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries or with guitar and drums in the twenty- first century.
For my part, I am simply glad to know that the church has a future. The fact that these little boys and girls are embracing the public worship of God in a way that is relevant to their world is, for me, very encouraging. For this is the pattern of Christian history.
At the age of 52, I have come to accept that the worship style of the church my grandparents inherited from my great-grandparents was not the same one that was then passed on to my parents’ generation. In turn, my parents’ generation received and then passed to my generation a heritage of worship; but one that they themselves had also modified.
And the same is true with my own generation, which like its predecessors, has left its unique imprint on Christian worship. No doubt the coming generation will do the same thing.
I rejoice to know that, in their own way, they are fulfilling the admonition of Scripture, which calls us to worship Him with passion. In the fifth chapter of the Apostle Paul’s New Testament letter to the Christians at Ephesus (v.v. 18-20), he challenges his fellow believers to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”
And long before this, in a previous generation, King David did much the same for fellow believers in his day, when he penned the now cherished words of the 100th Psalm:
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
May we, along with each and every succeeding generation of believers, always be faithful to do these very things!
NOTES: For those unfamiliar with Baptist history, Broadman Publishing (now Broadman & Holman) was a leading publishing house named for John Albert Broadus and Basil Manly, Jr., both considered eminent Baptist Theologians in their day.
Bill and Gloria Gaither’s music is available widely online. Their official web site is: http://gaither.com/.
The use of tavern music tunes and instruments by both Martin Luther in Germany and the Wesleys in England and America is a contested issue among historians. Web sites exist both in favor of and against the notion. But one thing is certain: numerous hymn writers, including Fanny Crosby and William Booth did make use of secular music and incorporate such tunes into their work.
Cf.: http://www.apologetix.com/faq/faq-detail.php?faq_q_id=89 and http://www.christianforums.com/t7625305/.
Lastly, in a related matter, the entire music industry itself is in a state of flux in the modern world, from the way it is packaged and consumed to the current relevance (or lack thereof) of actual musical genres. An insightful article on this subject can be found online at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/for-taylor-swift-the-future-of-music-is-a-love-story-404763219#printMode.
I leave you with a couple of pictures from our recent 2014 Worship Camp Celebration on night...