So personally, I've been internally struggling with an issue regarding my perspective on worship songs specifically.  First, allow me to begin with a (verb) definition of worship I found online.


Worship:  (v) To honor and love as a deity.


That said, let me give a brief background of myself as an individual.  I am the worship leader of a church in the Northwestern United States.  The church is a small one, with over a half of a century of history, and over that time, they have come to love their hymns.  Being raised away from the church, when I was saved, I learned to worship with mostly contemporary worship songs, as they connected with my preferred style of music.  Our church has become accustomed to the 'blended' worship service, using multiple types of worship songs during each service.  For the most part, we have resolved the 'hymn vs. contemporary' issue that has come up in many a church around the world.


Personally, I think of my self as an intellectual being, and I am very rational-minded.  I like to make sure things done in church services are done with intention and on purpose with direct meaning.  Being in the leadership position I am in our church, I have the trust of the congregation to choose the worship songs for each Sunday, as God leads.  And as you all know, sometimes, new songs are introduced.  But with my rational mind, I view the worship song portion of the service as the verb definition states, to honor and love God.  The actual action of doing this in a musical medium is what I feel called to lead (as well as arranging special music pieces, dramas/skits, etc.).


But with all of this said, here's my struggle:  I feel the physical act of musically worshiping God includes singing from our lips to God's 'ears'.  It makes sense to me that singing of God's glory to Him and acknowledging His works and His greatness to Him directly is as natural as speaking to you directly so you can hear/read what I'm saying and know that I'm speaking to you.  It makes a clear distinction in our hearts and minds of who we are communicating with.  So when I choose worship songs, I tend to choose songs that are directed towards God specifically (like How Great Thou Art [Boberg/Hine], Open The Eyes Of My Heart [Baloche], or Your Grace Is Enough [Maher]).  I feel that many Christian songs, although good natured and God oriented, aren't necessarily worship songs in my point of view (like Amazing Grace [Newton], Awesome God [Mullins] or Made To Worship [Tomlin]).  So to me, using them during service seems to be straying from the intention of musical worship from singing TO God, to singing ABOUT God.  And that isn't the point of a musical worship time as a congregation in my opinion.  This directly effects my duties in ministry as there are hundreds of hymns and thousands of songs that aren't addressing God directly.  So this greatly handicaps my song selection when it comes to Sunday morning worship.  I want Sunday morning worship to be a time for the congregation to sing TO God, and not have a sing along ABOUT God.


I have spent many hours in thought and in prayer about this situation and would like to bring this dilemma to you, the reader in efforts to resolve this issue in my mind and in my heart.  My intention is to either finish this conflict with a resolved feeling and internally okay with choosing only songs directed toward God (for the most part) for congregational worship, or coming to an understanding of how to worship God directly without singing to Him directly.  I'm just looking for a rational resolution.  Is there any thought, point of view, scripture, etc. that you might have to offer that would help me to understand and feel at peace with a resolution of this view on the act of musical worship during a church service?  Gracias y via con Dios!

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This is wonderful to read! Without having read this far in the responses, I put in my own oar a little while ago. The subject hit a sensitive nerve, and I may appear a bit heavy-handed. But I hope it has blessing for you as well.
Yeah. We have talked about this topic before, and I think it is a good one. The Church has, in general, often categorized all P/W and such songs as "Worship" songs, and I am certainly guilty of that as well. Semantics, I guess. But I have to agree with Stevo's first post. I wouldn't limit my song selection to only TRUE worship songs, unless of course you really feel led to do so. Mix it up, man. Have some fun, even. There is nothing wrong with that. I see Sunday morning, especially, as a celebration! You might be putting a little too much pressure on ourself, brother. It is a tough enough job ;-)
I too have learned much from reading this discussion :)

I have also been learning how to weave congregational Scripture readings in between some of the musical expressions of worship. Some people have never considered that we can express worship in any form other than music.

How about some times of silent worship . . . ?
Hi! from Rainier, Oregon -

Several years ago, during a twenty-four hour period, I first played piano for an outdoor hymn sing. Afterwards, someone said, "I love these songs. We're singing TO God, not like so many of the new songs, which are just ABOUT God." Then next morning at staff the Youth Pastor mentioned, "I know what it is! The old hymns were ABOUT God, but so many of our contemporary songs are TO God."

Each saw their music -- not just the style or the beat -- as intimate worship. They saw the others' as "not-quite-genuine",. a photograph rather than the real thing. These people were saying that their fellow Christians are "not worshiping with their music." That is a beastly thing to say about a brother or sister, the product of ignorance and not caring enough to be acquainted with a fellow churchgoer's culture. I do not say this in a vacuum. I have been dealing, as a pastor, with the "to" and "about" thing for thirty years or more. I also realize I'm getting a little emotional here; but I've sat up all night, thinking I would weed out the "less worthy" songs, and ended up unable to find the offenders, because I began singing and shouting to God with praise for so many songs that spoke of His glory and lavished such worship to Him!

Sorry. I see no rational resolution -- only spiritual resolution. Personally, I conclude that all songs ABOUT God, if sung to God, ARE "TO Him."

Think about the Psalms. Sometimes they are pictorically direct -- "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me????" Sometimes, "The Lord is my Shepherd..." BOTH of these were written after-the-fact. "My God! --" was written in a quiet room with ink and scroll available. David consciously chose the first-person voicing for the first, the Monet water-lilies approach for the second. He could have easily written "Lord, You are my shepherd. You give me everything I want; you have given me green pastures to lie down in, peaceful waters... Lord, you've restored my soul!"

Why not? There is absolutely no difference in the meaning. David simply chose to do it that way. Sometimes in the 70's, when you could still fiddle around with text, we would "personalize" a song by changing HIM to YOU. It had its virtue, but sometimes it goofed up the poetic and rhyme structure something fierce, causing distraction -- the very thing you don't want in a worship song.

A cup of cold water given in Jesus' name: the cup is given to a person, but Jesus says is is given to Him. Directly to Him. Mary ran from the tomb, telling ABOUT Him -- this was part of the act of worship of her life. Why should it make any difference if the verbiage is "to" or "about" God? If we are His, all songs are to Him.
Well said, Greg.
Worship is all about glorifying and giving according God His unmeritted power and all in all just to bless God. I have found out that what poeple call worship is just a song which is slow but to me i can further classify them hope that you will understand it.

Worship songs are in two parts. 1) Those that focus on me and God getting together 2) these focus on glorifying God alone 3) songs that talk about us. there is no song which is bad i always say but kbowing the time and place to sing it

So when I choose which songs to put on my list i ussually focus on the songs that talk only about blessing God and magnifying Him such as How great is our God, Indescibable (Chris Tomlin)

I see there are plenty explanantions and as my pastor says we see in parts and together we see a bigger picture

God Bless
part of the issue for me is the difference between corporate and individual worship. When we are together to worship we often sing songs which are written by individuals worshipping as individuals. So we simply choose as many songs as possible which use plural pronouns so that worshippers feel they are worshipping corporately. Addressing God directly also works since we can do that as a group. I don't prefer "Heart of Worship" for corporate use because, to me, God cares about the community side of worship too.


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