Psalm 150 (NLT) Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
By Chuck Griffin
As someone regularly involved in leading worship, I have to acknowledge where I am and am not gifted. Music is definitely an area where I need to step back and let others take charge.
I love worship music, though, and singing is a critical part of worship. When the singing has to be muted or subdued, as it has been during the pandemic, I am among the first to recognize how we suffer.
Psalm 150 makes it clear how noisy worship should be, at least at times. (There’s a place in worship for deep, meaningful silence, too.) The word “exuberance” comes to mind.
One thing I’ve learned over the years—musical exuberance comes in many forms. I’ve been blessed to pastor churches employing all sorts of music styles, and I’ve seen how every style has the potential to glorify God.
Some rural folk would immediately reject the idea of “high” worship being inspiring, but some of the best worship I’ve ever experienced was at a Methodist church that focused on the organ, the choir, and a highly disciplined, classical sound. These people knew how to inspire worshipers with music that often was centuries old.
I’ve also been blessed to have a similar experience during so-called “contemporary” worship in its many different forms. (This style should significantly change how it sounds every decade or so if it’s going to stay contemporary. Otherwise, it is just a particular generation’s preference.) I have been in services with a bluegrass or southern gospel sound that have brought me to tears, too.
Here’s the key: It’s not the style of the music, it’s the intent of the music leaders and the worshipers as they follow along. If God is praised through the music, if God is glorified, God’s Spirit will flow through what is happening, and we will feel inner transformation during the experience.
If the music comes across like a performance—if someone other than God is glorified—the whole service is likely to fall flat.
I thank God regularly for those of you with musical gifts, whether you are pianists, organists, guitarists, singers, fiddlers, banjo pickers, saxophonists, drummers, cymbal crashers or tambourine shakers. Keep doing what you do to the glory of our Lord and Savior.
Lord, thank you for the gift of music. It touches our souls in places words can never reach. Amen.