If you ever study Old Testament worship, you will discover that the most popular worship song there is "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
You will find that it appears at key points in Israel's history. For example;
1. When David brings the Ark into Jerusalem (1 Chr 16:34) and institutes a ministry of constant prayer and praise unto the LORD;
2. At the dedication of the Temple Solomon built unto the LORD, when the priests and Levites sang praises to the LORD and his glory filled the Temple like a cloud (2 Chr 5:13). When the people saw that they continued singing the same song (2 Chr 7:3);
3. When the armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir attacked Judah, King Jehoshaphat appointed singers who sang an abbreviated version of this song as they marched to the battle (2 Chr 20:21-22). And the LORD gave them a glorious victory.
4. When the people of Israel returned from exile and rebuilt the Temple of the LORD, they sang this song when the builders laid the foundation (Ezra 3:11) and it was so loud that it was even heard from far away.
So you can say that this is the fallback worship song, the song they sing whenever the common people want to declare the praises of God. This song was so ingrained into the souls of the people that you can easily unify their praises when you start singing this song. And when you unify the praises of the people, the glory of the LORD is comes upon us (2 Chr 5:13).What are the Fallback Worship Songs of your church?
It is easy to dismiss the importance of the Fallback Worship Song. In this day and age we have mountains of worship CDs available, and we are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to the songs we have available for congregational worship. To make things worse, there are many people who take the Scripture's admonitions to sing new songs unto the Lord (Psa 33:3, 96:1) to mean that we should not be regularly and deliberately teaching and reinforcing the right Fallback Worship Songs to our churches.I disagree with that.
I firmly believe that as we teach our church people new songs we also need to regularly reinforce some of the old songs, the ones that truly speak to our people's hearts, the ones that will be the timeless truths you want people to remember when crisis strikes and their faith is tested. In other words, we need to keep them familiar with the Fallback Worship Songs of your church.
When you do that, this is how your congregation benefits:1)The Fallback Worship Songs become a familiar starting point from which they can learn new songs.
Consider the following passages:
Psalm 106:1-3 (NIV) – Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise? Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.
Psalm 107:1-2 (NIV) – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this — those he redeemed from the hand of the foe
Notice how the two Psalms start in the same way and yet continue differently? The people can ponder the goodness of the LORD and contrast it with their own sinfulness (the theme of Psalm 106) or they can ponder the goodness of the LORD and see it demonstrated in many ways in their lives (the theme of Psalm 107).
The beginnings of these two psalms show us that a Fallback Song can allow us to launch off into newer worship songs and give the people a context to remember them.2) Fallback Worship Songs help shape their confessions of faith
Psalm 118:1-4 (NIV) – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Let Israel say: "His love endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say: "His love endures forever."
Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever."
What do your church people really believe about God? Depending on your denomination, they may tell me that they embrace the Westminster Confession of Faith, or maybe the Baptist, Scottish or Mennomite Confessions.
But I am not referring about a statement of doctrine here. I am talking about what they hold on to when the boss tells them they are fired, the bills are piling up on the table and the creditors are hounding them. I am asking about who God is to them when the phone rings and it is from the hospital about their kid, or the doctor takes out their medical report and asks them to take a seat before he/she continues.Who is God to them then? THAT is their confession of faith.
The Fallback Worship Songs help shape their confession of faith. The newer songs just sung in passing in church and quickly forgotten, have little or no effect on it. Why do I say that? Because a genuine, dependable trust in God takes time to develop. Sometimes it can even take generations.
2 Tim 1:5 (NIV) – I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
The Fallback Worship Songs in your church arise when the worship leaders reinforce the songs that already resonate with the people of that church. In other words, the worship leaders must give time for the lyrics to sink into the hearts of the people. That takes time, patience and deliberate effort, like that of a farmer working his field for harvest.3) Fallback Worship Songs remind the people of the faithfulness of God.
Ezra 3:10-11 (NIV) – When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD:
"He is good; his love to Israel endures forever."
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ever had those moments when you suddenly hear an old song and it brings back a flood of memories to your mind and heart? In the Old Testament, God had his people deliberately use this song for the purpose of telling his people that he has remained the same. The people have sinned and fallen so far away from God, ever since the time David brought the Ark to Jerusalem and Solomon completed building the Temple. And yet God has not changed. He has remained faithful to them, and true to the promises in his Word.
In my life, one of my Fallback songs is Through It All (Reuben Morgan, 2001 Hillsong Publishing, CCLI 3452774). I still remember vividly that it was the last song I used in the very last worship music class I conducted. I was leaving formal employment with that school then, and my future looked uncertain and bleak.
And ever since that time I have gotten and lost jobs, been humbled by my mistakes and failures and experienced the lowest valleys of my life. Yet in the midst of it all, God has remained faithful to me, picking me up from my mistakes, providing for me and my family, given me wonderful learning experiences and brought me to beautiful places of rest for my soul.
When we use the Fallback Worship Songs of our own churches, we remind the people that God has stayed the same, from the time they first learned this worship song up till now. They may have been exalted by the Lord since then or humbled by their own mistakes and failings, but the LORD still remains faithful to them.Conclusion:
A farmer is deliberate in preparing his field and choosing the seed he will sow for his harvest. A pastor prays and seeks the Lord for the sermons he preaches to build up the faith of the flock God entrusted to his care. Let us, as worship leaders, be just as diligent to seek the Lord and sow the right Fallback Worship Songs into the hearts of his people!