Maybe it is because I took accordion lessons at the age of ten. Perhaps it is because I was forced to be in a sixth grade choir. Whatever…I don’t enjoy singing. I am grateful that scripture advises I make melody “in my heart.” I enjoy hearing singing; I just don’t like singing.
Thus it wouldn’t bother me much if the preacher said “Good morning” from the pulpit and began preaching. I don’t feel the least bit carnal about this; but neither do I feel any kind of superiority. I just don’t like to sing, so singing is an exercise in patience.
That being said, let me reiterate, I enjoy hearing singing…singing of all types of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) I don’t think “arky arky” falls into any of those categories; I have a personal prejudice against “it only takes a spark” (perhaps caused by being the camp speaker for over 120 weeks of camp!), but I pretty much like all kinds of other songs. This makes me dislike the arguments about praise and worship songs versus hymns.
Scripture doesn’t differentiate, thought tradition and heritage might. The fact that twice the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” validates the blending of different styles of music in worship.
My current favorite “worship song” is “Shout to the Lord.” I want it sung at my funeral! But I also want “And Can It Be?”, the hymn written by Charles Wesley. The former might cause my hand to go up (now, not at my funeral!), my toes to tap, and a smile of joy to appear. The latter will draw a sigh of appreciation, and a tear of gratitude.
Is one more “spiritual” than the other? Is either more “doctrinal”? Certainly the styles are different, the themes may vary, but both are focused on the Lord, His works, and our benefits.
Granted, some “spiritual songs” are a bit fluffy. That’s cool! I enjoy fluff now and again. I can’t survive and thrive on it, but it is wonderful to focus on the Lord with my heart. Some (certainly not all) hymns are rich in teaching and doctrine. It is wonderful to focus on the Lord with my head. It helps to fulfil the greatest commandment….to love the Lord my God with all my “heart,” as well as all my “mind.”
So why do we argue about it? Because we let the flesh and the devil win. Confusing preference with conviction, we elevate ourselves above other based on whether there is a drum, a repeated chorus, or a “eth” at the end of words. It bugs (or buggeth) me, and I believe it grieves the heart of God.
Read more articles by Jack Hager or search for articles on the same topic or others.