The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

What Is Contemporary Worship, Really?

 

Introduction: A Question Concerning Terminology

 

In a growing number of churches today, people will boast of offering a “contemporary service”. The old conservative Lutheran may react in a couple different ways. He may feel guilty or he may feel envious. “Why don’t we have a contemporary service? My pastor and others in the church must not care about the young people in our congregation; otherwise they would make arrangements to do what other churches are doing. We need to offer a more contemporary form of worship so that church becomes more relevant, in particular for those in highschool and college.”

 

In the Latin, “contemporary” means “with the time”. People maintain that they are “with this time” as they mimic the music of today’s society. Our answer may be “what about the words? What about the message?” What is really contemporary is not the form which carries the words of God. It is the words or the message itself. We give thought to David and his contribution to worship with his writing of many psalms. David’s words are our words. We’re with him in time. And we can relate with him when he speaks of forgiveness and salvation. Therefore the worship we have in common is very contemporary.

 

There are other terms with which we’ve become familiar in the worship context today. People talk about “praise services” and “alternative services”. Brief and simple responses are again in order. No one can praise God unless it is through Jesus Christ. And we happen to praise God every Sunday in the Divine Service. As for that alternative service, the service is an alternative to what? Some are of the opinion that because our culture has changed, we in the church should conform and make the necessary adjustments. However, Christ is our culture. No one has a right to make us incorporate this or that culture into our worship. The divine service is the alternative to what the world offers.

 

What is Worship?

 

The Origin of the Term

 

With respect to the Sunday morning gathering of the Christian congregation, it has never been the Lutheran tradition to speak of “worship” (our action), but of the Divine Service (God’s action on our behalf.

 

The dictionary defines worship as “the action whereby people honor or revere a supernatural being or power or a holy thing”; “to adore with appropriate acts, rites, or ceremonies.” Further, the dictionary informs us that the word worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon words meaning “worth ship”. We give worth or value to a being or thing and express this in acts of reverence or devotion. A problem exists in this definition. The common understanding of worship runs counter to the way in which our church has defined worship. According to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions worship is faith. True worship is to believe the Gospel and to receive from the Lord by his grace forgiveness of sins and eternal life. (Excerpts from Worship and Liturgy, God Speaks We Respond, Roger D. Pittelko, C.P.H. 1995)

 

Based on the comments expressed above, the question is not a difficult one. Which definition of worship shall we adopt? In all honesty, the concept of bringing worth to God by our act of worship, as if God needed our worship to thrive and exist is ridiculous and idolatrous false theology.

 

The Divine Service is primarily God’s work as he works faith and imparts forgiveness, life and salvation through the Word of the Gospel and the Word attached to the elements in the Sacraments. The people’s secondary response is to this same Word. The congregation responds with praise and thanksgiving to God and with confession. We confess back to God what he has said of himself in his Word. And we confess to each other and the world the faith we believe. (Source Unknown)

 

What is the most important thing in the worship service?

A)___ That it gives us the opportunity to do something for God.

B)___ That we’re instructed in how to serve our neighbor best and thereby glorify God.

C)___ That we have a good time with other Christians.

D) X_ That God comes to us in the means of grace to serve and strengthen us by forgiving us our sins through absolution, preaching, and the sacrament.

 

Read and comment on the relevance of the following passages.

 

Psalm 102:21-22

1 Corinthians 14:26

Matthew 20:28

Ephesians 2:17

Galatians 5:17

 

Comment also on Luther’s words from the Large Catechism.

 

Forgiveness is needed constantly, for although Christ has won God’s grace, and holiness has been wrought by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word in the unity of the Christian Church, yet because we are encumbered with our flesh we are never without sin. Therefore everything in the Christian Church is so ordered that we may daily obtain full forgiveness of sins through the word and through signs (sacraments) appointed to comfort and revive our consciences as long as we live.

 

What is the most important thing about music in the church?

A)___ That is lets me feel the Holy Spirit working in me.

B) X_ That it proclaims the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and expresses gratitude towards God in a way that’s fitting for his presence in Word and Sacrament.

C)___ That it makes me feel good about myself and lets me have a great time.

D)___ That it’s hard to sing.

E)___ That it’s contemporary and accompanied by a band, showcasing the God-given talents of soloists.

 

Read and comment on the relevance of the following passages.

 

1 Corinthians 14:33, 40

Colossians 3:16

 

The Heart and Center of Lutheran Worship

 

Lutheran worship puts the focus squarely on Jesus Christ, who is present for us and with us through his Word and Sacraments. Lutheran worship is therefore Christ-centered, not man-centered. When we are gathered for worship, we are not contemplating some far-off Christ or meditating on abstract concepts, or pondering various principles for living. Neither are we in church to be amused or entertained. Christ is living and active among us, right where he has promised to be in his Word and Sacraments. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 18:20). When he gathers us around his Word and Sacraments, he fulfills this promise to us once again. (What About . . . Lutheran Worship; A.L. Barry, L.C.M.S. 2000)

 

Worship Described by our Hymnal, Lutheran Worship

 

Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. . . Saying back to him what he has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. . . The rhythm of our worship is from him to us, and then from us back to him. He gives his gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another up as we speak to another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. (The Introduction to Lutheran Worship p.6)

 

Worship and the Liturgy

 

Worship assumes liturgy. It must because worship assumes structure. While it is true we gather as sheep around the Heavenly Shepherd, we do not engage in mindless bleating! Our worship will always have liturgy because we are caught up in a heavenly rhythm that originates outside of us. To be Lutheran is to be liturgical. From beginning to end Lutheran worship (Lutheran liturgy) takes on a structure - a form - which reflects our theology. (With Angels and Archangels, Rev. Dean M. Bell)

 

Is Diversity in Worship a Bad Thing?

 

Comment on the two following quotes of Martin Luther with respect to how the Church worships. He says on the on hand:

 

But in all these matters we will want to beware lest we make binding what should be free, or make sinners of those who may do something things differently... For these rites are supposed to be for Christians... who observe them voluntarily and from the heart, but are free to change them how and whenever they may wish. Therefore, it is not in these matters that anyone should either seek to establish as law some indispensable form by which he might ensnare or harass consciences. (Luther’s Work Vol. 53 p. 30-31)

 

But on the other hand he says:

 

Let us feel and think the same, even though we may act differently. And let us approve each other’s rites lest schisms and sects should result from this diversity in rites. (Luther’s Work Vol. 53 p. 31)

 

Is it okay for pastors to compose their own liturgies? Comment on what Luther has to say about the great variety of new German masses.

 

Some have the best intentions, but other have no more than an itch to produce something novel so that they might shine before men as leading lights, rather than being ordinary teachers - as is always the case with Christian liberty: very few use it for the glory of God and the good of the neighbor; most use it for their own advantage and pleasure. (Luther’s Work Vol. 53 p. 48)

 

True or False? Liturgy and hymns are confessions of faith.

A) X_ True, because their chief purpose is to serve the proclamation of the Gospel.

Therefore they must not contradict and undermine what we confess elsewhere.

B)___ False, because liturgy is one of those things neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture. Therefore we should do and sing what pleases lots of people.

 

Read and comment on the relevance of the following passages.

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

1 Corinthians 5:12

1 Peter 4:11

 

Why is it a good thing using the same liturgy as congregations in theological agreement with us?

A)___ Because it is mandated by the Bible and necessary for church unity.

B)___ Because there is only one true liturgy.

C) X_ Because it is fitting public expression of the unity of faith we enjoy across time and space, but not an absolutely necessary one.

D)___ It isn’t a good thing. There should be as much diversity and innovation in the church as possible to win those who aren’t members yet.

 

Read and comment on the relevance of the following passages.

 

Romans 14:5, 19, 21

Colossians 2:16

Ephesians 4:3-6

 

Comment also on the following words from The Apology of the Augsburg Confession.

 

For the true unity of the church it is enough to agree concerning the teaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments... We believe that the true unity of the Church is not harmed by differences in rites instituted by men, although we like it when universal rites are observed for the sake of tranquility... With a very thankful heart we cherish the useful and ancient ordinances, especially when they contain a discipline that serves to educate and instruct the people and the inexperienced. (Apology to the Augsburg, Art. 7, 8, Par. 30,33)

 

What can we say about the practice of using good liturgies and hymns repeatedly?

A) X_ It teaches “the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3) and is therefore a good thing, especially because as sinners we tend to forget God’s many blessings.

B)___ It provides a boring, unattractive worship atmosphere and should therefore be avoided.

 

Read and comment on the relevance of the following passages and quotes from the Confessions.

 

1 Corinthians 14:40

Colossians 3:16

 

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but hold it sacred, gladly hear and learn it. (Luther’s Small Catechism; meaning of 3rd Commandment)

 

The chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach people what they need to know about Christ.

(Augsburg Confession, Article 24, Paragraph 2)

 

Who Are We Worshiping? (What about the Trinity?)

 

Hymns of praise will help the worshiper focus on why we are so grateful and why we wish to praise God. It is essential therefore that the words state specifically what it is for which we are thankful. Whether termed “hymns of praise” or something else, Lutheran hymns give the worshiper the opportunity to confess the Christian faith and say back to the Triune God the magnificent particulars of God’s works. We praise him and confess his name, the God who has created us, who has redeemed us and has sanctified us.

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess: our faith in the works of our Triune God.

(See Luke 1:68, Luke 19:37-40, Ephesians 1:3-7, 1 Peter 1:3-6, Rev. 5:12, 2 Cor. 13:14)

 

LSB # 797 Praise the Almighty, My Soul, Adore Him

LSB # 794 The Lord, My God, be Praised

LSB # 954 We All Believe in One True God, Maker of Earth and Heaven

 

Contemporary songs of praise generally go into little detail as to why we are grateful and wish to praise God. Typically they become hopelessly shallow as a result, and do not help the worshiper focus on the works of our God and Savior. This is aided in many cases by sweet melodies or sentimental sounding music. The worshiper may be encouraged to praise God because of how God reveals himself to mankind in nature, but hardly ever because of how God reveals himself to sinners in the Gospel. The words of most contemporary songs unfortunately have little or nothing to say about who is the only true God.

 

 

 

Blessed Be Your Name By Matt Redman

 

Blessed be your Name Where your streams of abundance flow

In the land that is plentiful Blessed be your Name.

 

Blessed be your Name Though I walk through the wilderness

When I’m found in the desert place Blessed be your Name . . .

Blessed be your Name When the world’s all as it should be

When the sun’s shining down on me Blessed be your Name

 

Blessed be your Name Though there’s pain in the offering

On the road marked with suffering Blessed be your Name

 

Every blessing you pour out When the darkness closes in, Lord

I’ll turn back to praise Still I will say

 

Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be your Glorious name.

 

Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be your Glorious name.

 

You give and take away My heart will choose to say

You give and take away Lord, blessed be your name.

(Sung at Epiphany Lutheran, Chandler AZ - 1/29/06)

 

Famous One Words and Music by Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves

 

And for all You’ve done and yet to do,

with every breath, I’ll be praising You.

Desire of the nations and every heart,

You alone are God, You alone are God.

 

You are the Lord, the famous One, famous One;

Great is Your name in all the earth.

The heavens declare You are glorious, glorious;

great is Your fame beyond the earth.

 

Morning Star is shining through,

and every eye, we’re all watching You.

Revealed by nature and miracles,

You are beautiful, You’re so beautiful. . .

 

Great is Your name beyond the earth. Yeah!

 

No One Like You Words and Music by David Crowder, Jack Parker, Jason Solley, Jeremy Bush, Mike Dodson and Mike Hogan

 

You are more beautiful Than anyone ever.

Everyday You are the same;

You never change, no never. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Repeated)

 

And how can I ever deny The love of my Savior?

You are to me everything, All I need forever.

How could You be so good? . . .

 

Everywhere You were there, Earth or air surrounding.

I’m not alone, the heavens sing along.

My God, You’re so astounding. . .

 

How could You be so good to me? Yeah, yeah.

How could You be so good to me? Yeah.

 

We’re not alone, no, so sing along.

We’re not alone; sing along, sing along, sing along.

Spoken: Here we go!

 

There has never ever

There is no one, no one like You.

There is no one, ever been anyone like You, anyone like You.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

 

Rise Up and Praise Him Paul Baloche and Gary Sadler 1996

 

Let the heavens rejoice Let the earth be glad

Let the people of God sing his praise

All over the land Everyone in the valley come and lift your voice

All those on the mountaintop Be glad shout for joy.

 

Rise up and praise him He deserve our love

Rise up and praise him Worship the Holy One with all your heart

With all your soul With all your might Rise up and praise him.

 

God Will Make a Way Don Moen 1990

 

God will make a way Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see He will make a way for me

He will be my guide Hold me closely to his side With love and strength

For each new day He will make a way.

 

By a roadway in the wilderness He’ll lead me

And rivers in the desert will I see Heaven and earth will fade

But his Word will still remain He will do something new today.

 

 

What Has Our God Done FOR Us? (The Work of Christ)

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess that Christ shed his blood to redeem us from sin, death and the devil. As God is holy and just and cannot tolerate sin, Jesus accepted the punishment deserved by all sinners. As a result, we stand justified in the eyes of God.

(See Mark 10:45, John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2:24, 1 John 2:2, Romans 5:18, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

LSB # 438 A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth

LSB # 575 My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

LSB # 566 By Grace I’m Saved, Grace Free and Boundless

LSB # 761 Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

LSB # 555 Salvation unto Us has Come

Christian Contemporary songs often profess that we can be assured we will benefit from Christ and what he’s done for us, so long as we are experiencing certain feelings or emotions. We may find a number of contemporary Christian songs referring to the blood of Christ. However, they rarely emphasize what Christ has done for the world, how sinners stand righteous before God because of our Lord’s atoning sacrifice. It is much more common in contemporary Christian music to speak of how we can benefit through some kind of personal contact with Christ.

 

Here I Am to Worship Tim Hughes, 2001

 

Light of the world You stepped down into darkness Opened my eyes let me see

Beauty that made this heart adore you Hope of a life spent with you.

 

Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down Here I am to say that you’re my God

You’re altogether lovely Altogether worthy Altogether wonderful to me

 

King of all days O so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above

Humbly you came to the earth you created All for love’s sake became poor

 

I’ll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross

I’ll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross.

 

Jesus, You’re Beautiful Nate Sabin, 1997

 

Jesus bright as the morning star Jesus how can I tell you how beautiful you are to me

Jesus song that the angels sing Jesus dearer to my heart than anything.

Sweeter than spring time Purer than sunshine Ever my song will be Jesus you’re beautiful to me.

 

O Lord you are so beautiful So beautiful so beautiful so beautiful Jesus you’re beautiful to me

Beautiful beautiful beautiful Jesus you’re beautiful to me

Wonderful heavenly beautiful Jesus you’re beautiful to me

Morning Star Lord you are beautiful Jesus you’re beautiful to me.

 

Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) Word and Music by Chris Rice

 

Weak and wounded sinner, lost and left to die;

O raise your head, for Love is passin’ by.

Come to Jesus, come to Jesus, come to Jesus and live!

 

Now your burden’s lifted and carried far away,

And precious blood has washed away the stain.

So sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus and live!

Like a newborn baby, don’t be afraid to crawl.

And remember when you walk, sometimes we fall.

So fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus and live!

 

O, and when the love spills over, and music fills the night,

And when you can’t contain your joy inside,

Then dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus and live!

 

And with your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye,

Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side.

And fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus and live!

 

Can’t Know a Life

 

Words and Music by Michael Grayson, Sam Tinnesz, Seth Jones and Mark Woodward

 

I’m broken, but I’m calling, falling for You, Lord.

‘Cause You hands, well they offer much more than the world has in store, yeah.

Come now and take me and make me worthy.

Your voice enters through me, Your words consume me.

 

‘Cause You are the way, the meaning today. You are the way.

And I, I can’t know a life without You. I can’t know a life without You.

I can’t know a life without You. I can’t know a life.

 

And I’ll stand on Your promise, ‘cause my heart feels satisfied.

And Your love, it confronts me, leaving nothing to hide. I got nothing to hide.

 

‘Cause You are the way, the meaning today.

You are the way. And I, I can’t know a life without You.

I can’t know a life without You. I can’t know a life without You. I can’t. . . .

 

What Has Our God Done IN US? (The Work of the Holy Spirit)

 

Coming to and Remaining in Faith

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess that the Holy Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus Christ without any effort or cooperation on our part. Christian faith is not the result of some kind of conscious decision made by one who understands a certain amount about Jesus Christ and how he is our Savior. Faith is strictly a gift from the Holy Spirit which he creates in a person’s heart through the words of the Gospel. (See 1 Corinthians 12:3, John 15:6, 1 Peter 1:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:14, Romans 8:7-8)

 

LSB # 913 O Holy Spirit, Enter In

LSB # 658 Preserve You Word, O Savior

LSB # 703 How Can I Thank You, Lord?

LSB # 923 Almighty Father, Bless the Word

 

 

Christian Contemporary songs often profess that people come to faith by inviting Jesus into their heart or by making a personal decision to accept Jesus as the Lord of their life. It is believed that the cross of Christ (the Gospel) has power only after people choose to believe in Jesus Christ.

 

Come, Now is the Time to Worship Brian Doerksen 2005

 

Come, now is the time to worship

Come, now is the time to give your heart

Come, just as you are to worship

Come, just as you are before your God Come

 

One day every tongue will confess you are God

One day every knee will bow

Still the greatest treasure remains for those

Who gladly choose you now

 

All Over Me (Petra)

 

They nailed his hands and his feet to the wood.

At the foot of his cross all his enemies stood.

he said "Father forgive them"

he gave them all he could give.

Then he gave up his life and they watched him die...

You can choose to believe it,

You can choose to receive it,

You can choose to believe that he died over you.

 

The Savior is Waiting (Ralph Carmichael)

 

The Savior is waiting to enter your heart,

Why don’t you let Him come in?

There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart,

What is your answer to Him?

 

Refrain:

Time after time He has waited before

And now He is waiting again

To see if you’re willing to open the door,

O how He wants to come in!

 

If you’ll take one step toward the Savior, my friend,

You’ll find His arms open wide;

Receive Him and all of your darkness will end,

Within your heart He’ll abide.

Refrain:

 

 

 

 

I Could Sing of Your Love Forever Words and Music by Martin Smith

 

Over the mountains and the sea

Your river runs with love for me

And I will open up my heart

And let the Healer set me free

I’m happy to be in the truth

And I will daily lift my hand

For I will always sing of

When Your love came down

 

I could sing of Your love forever

I could sing of Your love forever

I could sing of Your love forever

I could sing of Your love. (Same verse repeated 3 other times)

 

And O I feel like dancin’. It’s foolishness I know.

But when the world has seen the light

They will dance with joy Like we’re dancing now. I could sing.

 

Oh, I feel like dancin’, and it’s foolishness, I know.

But when that world has seen the light

they will jump with joy like they’re jumping now.

 

The Christian Life

 

With All My Heart Words and Music by Babbie Mason

 

1. In this quiet place with You, I bow before Your throne.

I bare the deepest part of me to You and You alone.

I keep no secrets, for there is no thought You have not known.

I bring my best, and all the rest, to You and lay them down.

 

With all my heart I want to love You, Lord.

And live my life each day to know You more.

All that is in me is Yours completely.

I’ll serve You only, with all my heart.

 

2. You faithfully supply my needs according to Your plan.

So help me, Lord, to seek Your face before I seek Your hand.

And trust You know what’s best for me when I don’t understand.

Then follow in obedience in ev’ry circumstance.

 

With all my heart I want to love You, Lord.

And live my life each day to know You more.

All that is in me is Yours completely.

I’ll serve You only, with all my heart.

 

Sanctuary Words and Music by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs

 

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for You. Repeat.

 

I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be Your sanctuary.

I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be Your sanctuary.

 

I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be Your sanctuary.

I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna, I wanna be I wanna –

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, so tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for You, sanctuary for, for You.

 

Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo.

Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo.

Father I Adore You (Terrye Coelho)

 

Father I adore you, lay my life before you: How I love you!

Jesus I adore you, lay my life before you: How I love you!

Spirit I adore you, lay my life before you: How I love you!

 

 

Why Do We Need the Church?

 

The Law and the Gospel

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess that the Law and the Gospel are the two chief doctrines of the Bible. The Law is God’s will for our lives and it teaches us what we are to do and not to do. It cannot, however, help us to follow through and live a Christian life. The Gospel is the good news about our Savior Jesus Christ who has taken our place on the cross in order to redeem us and assure us of everlasting life. The Gospel alone enables us trust in Christ for salvation and to live a Christian life. (See Leviticus 19:2, Romans 1:16)

 

LSB # 556 Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice

LSB # 580 The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace

 

Christian Contemporary songs often profess that it’s hearing the testimonial of another believer that helps us trust in Christ as Savior and live a Christian life. The same testimonials, however, have little to say about the saving power of the Gospel. For the most part, the focus is on one’s personal experiences.

 

 

 

 

My Utmost for His Highest Words and Music by Twila Paris

 

1. When the Savior came to earth, answer to the endless fall,

He became a man by birth then He died to save us all.

May we never come to Him with half a heart.

All that He deserves is nothing less than all I am and all you are.

 

For His highest, I give my utmost.

To the King of Kings, to the Lord of Hosts,

for His glory, for His goodness,

I will give my utmost for His highest.

 

2. Standing in this holy place, let us all remember here,

Covered only by His grace, we are bought with blood so dear.

May we never bring with lesser offering.

He alone is worthy to receive the life we live, the song we sing.

 

For His highest, I give my utmost.

To the King of Kings, to the Lord of Hosts,

for His glory, for His goodness, I will give my utmost for His highest

 

I Will Rick Heil and Todd Shay - 2003

 

My Savior Redeemer My love and my Lord

I give you all of my heart My will and my soul

You take me as I am A scarred and broken man

Lord I surrender all I have to you to you

I will give you everything I will I will

Make my life an offering I will I will.

My Savior I’ll never Forget what you’ve done

You carried the weight of my sin To the cross the victory’s won

You make my heart brand new Now there’s nothing I won’t do

Lord I surrender all I am to you so when I lose my Life I save it I save it

And by Your grace I’m saved I know it I know it

When you were on the cross You give it You gave it.

 

The Means of Grace

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess that we receive strength to believe in Christ and live a Christian life only from God’s Word and Sacraments, His means of Grace.

(See Romans 1:16, Romans 10:17, John 3:5-6, Romans 6:3-7, Matthew 26:26-28)

 

LSB # 601 All who Believe and are Baptized

LSB # 594 God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It

LSB # 596 All Christians Who have Been Baptized

LSB # 597 Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying

LSB # 623 Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray

LSB # 618 I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table

LSB # 624 The Infant Priest Was Holy Born

 

Christian Contemporary songs often profess that strength as a believer, is something we find by finding Christ. However, it’s not clear where we find Christ. References are made to the Lord’s presence, his movement, how he fills us. We also are to believe that our faith is strengthened when we are “touched” by our Lord, when he “breathes” on us etc. However, no mention is made of the fact that our desire and ability to trust in Christ and live for him comes from the Gospel’s good news, from Baptism and Holy Communion.

 

Falling Words and Music by Michael Farren

 

Father, it remains to me a mystery why You still love me when You see the bad in me.

You show me mercy, You show me grace, You call me Your own.

 

Day by day I’m finding out just a little more, just exactly what the journey is for:

It is to love You, hold You, touch You, call You my own, my own.

 

And I trade treasure, I trade fame just to hear You speak my name.

I’ve been touched by You and I will never be the same, I will never be the same.

 

For I am falling more and more in love with You, my King, yeah, yeah.

My heart sings a song that even angels cannot sing.

Repeat all.

 

Now the Silence Text, Jaroslav Vajda; Music, Carl G. Schalk

 

Now the silence Now the peace Now the empty hands uplifted

Now the kneeling Now the plea Now the Father’s arms in welcome

Now the hearing Now the pow’r Now the vessel brimmed four pouring

Now the Body Now the Blood Now the joyful celebration

Now the wedding Now the song Now the heart forgiven leaping

Now the Spirit’s visitation Now the Son’s epiphany

Now the Father’s blessing Now Now Now

(Sung at MN South Lutheran Teachers’ Conference - October 20-21, Mankato, MN)

Breathe on Me Words and Music by Matt Huesmann and Grant Cunningham

 

Breathe on me, breath of God; bring my life close to Your Spirit.

Beat in me, heart of God; my soul’s in prayer to be near it.

Focus my eyes to only see what’s You.

And breathe on me, breathe on me, breath of God. Oh, oh, oh.

 

Breathe on me, breath of God; I am a vessel to be filled.

Comfort me, peace of God; Lord, I am restless for Your will.

Silence my fears (Silence my fears) so that I may hear from You.

And breathe on me, breathe on me, breath of God.

 

 

Surround me in Your glory, make Your presence known.

Set the path of grace before me, let Your breath become my own.

 

Breathe on me, breath of God; cover my sin with Your mercy.

Speak to me, Word of God; give me a light for my journey.

Show me Your way (Show me Your way) and draw me close to You.

And breathe on me, breathe on me, breath on me, breath of God. Hah

 

Move in Me Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michael W. Smith

 

I am only human, struggling to find confidence in all that I believe.

And You are only holy, You are love divine, And You have said to ask and I’ll receive,

So I have come to pray that You will come and feed the hunger here inside me

to grow stronger in the faith.

There’s a longing and a need to have You ever closer. Come fill me.

 

Cause when You move in me it’s like a symphony, a timeless melody that soothes my soul.

Though silent, I can tell that You’re alive and well, ‘cause I can feel You move in me.

Da Da Da Da Da

 

What they try to tell me is that Your love is false, and faith is just a way I chose to feel.

And that there was no meaning to You upon the cross, and I should reach

for something that is real.

And when those words are said, the questions in me start, and I don’t have

any answers until I stop thinking with my head and start list’ning to my heart.

And there I find my assurance. I tell them that

 

Breath (This Is The Air I Breathe) Words and Music by Marie Barnett 2005

 

This is the air I breath This is the air I breathe

Your holy presence Living in me

This is my daily bread This is my daily bread

Your very Word Spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for you

And I, I’m lost without you

 

Every Move I Make Lyrics, Words and Music by David Ruis

 

Na na na na na na na

 

Every move I make, I make in You. You make me move, Jesus.

Every breath I take I breathe in You, oh.

Every step I take I take in You, You are my way, Jesus.

Every breath I take I breathe in You. Waves of mercy, waves of grace,

ev’rywhere I look I see Your face.

Your love has captured me.

Oh, my God, this love, how can it be? . . .

 

Na na na na na na na Na na na na na na na Na na na na na na na Na na na na na na na

Christian Fellowship

 

In Lutheran Worship we profess that Christian fellowship and unity is a gift from God. He gives us unity in faith by giving us his Word and Doctrine. We recognize our Christian unity with those who profess with us, the same true faith. We express the fact that we are united, by joining with the same Christians in worship and by receiving together Christ’s Sacrament. (See 1 Corinthians 1:10, Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:26, Romans 16:17)

 

LSB # 647 v.2, 4 Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head

 

Christian Contemporary songs often profess that Christian unity is possible not because of what God gives, but because of what we give; acts of love which show our faith in Jesus.

 

They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love (Peter Scholtes)

 

We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord,

We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord,

And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

 

Chorus:

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

 

We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,

We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,

And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

Chorus

 

We will work with each other, We will work side by side,

We will work with each other, We will work side by side,

And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.

Chorus

 

The Last Word - God’s or Man’s? (What is Worship? A Review)

 

What is the highest worship of Christ? Comment on Luther’s words.

 

The greatest possible comfort comes from this doctrine that the highest worship in the Gospel is the desire to receive forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness.

(The Apology of the Augsburg Confession , Article 4, Tappert, p. 155)

 

True worship is to believe the Gospel and to receive from the Lord by his grace forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As mentioned above, the Divine Service is primarily God’s work. He works faith and imparts forgiveness, life and salvation through the Word of the Gospel and the Word attached to the elements in the Sacraments. Our response to this same Word is secondary. With praise and thanksgiving, we confess back to God what he has said of himself in his Word.

(See also Colossians 3:16, Psalm 102:21-22, Acts 2:42, Matthew 20:28, John 6:40, Matthew 17:5, John 4:21-24, Luke 2:20, Matthew 2:11)

 

LSB # 822 Alleluia! Let Praises Ring

LSB # 798 The God of Abraham Praise

LSB # 805 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

LSB # 422 On My Heart Imprint Your Image

LSB # 440 Jesus, I Will Ponder Now

LSB # 480 He’s Risen, He’s Risen

 

Christian Contemporary songs often suggest that worship is primarily or entirely the believer’s work. The words of a song may mention briefly what our Savior has done for the sinner. However, the emphasis is never on what Christ gives us in the Word and sacraments, but on what the believer does for God. Much is said about how I may feel good about myself on account of what God is doing in me and in my life. A reoccurring theme is my experience with God resulting from his love for me. As a result, the typical song is not about Christ and the forgiveness he gives me during the service. It’s all about me.

 

I Give You My Heart Reuben Morgan 1995

 

This is my desire To honor You

Lord, with all my heart I worship You

All I have within me I give you praise

All that I adore Is in you

 

Lord, I give you my heart I give you my soul I live for you alone

Every breath that I take Every moment I’m awake

Lord, have your way with me.

 

I could Sing of Your Love Forever Martin Smith 2005

 

Over the mountains and the sea Your river runs with love for me

And I will open up my heart And let the healer set me free

I’m happy to be in the truth And I will daily lift my hands

For I will always sing Of when your love came down

 

I could sing of your love forever I could sing of your love forever

I could sing of your love forever I could sing of your love forever

 

Oh I feel like dancing It’s foolishness I know

But when the world has seen the light

They will dance with joy like we’re dancing now.

 

You Raise Me Up Recorded by Josh Groban, Words and Music by Brendan Graham and Rolf Lovland

 

When I am down and oh, my soul’s so weary,

when troubles come and my heart burdened be,

Then I am still and wait here in the silence

until you come and sit awhile with me.

 

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

 

There is no life, no life without its hunger;

each restless heart beats so imperfectly.

But when you come and I am filled with wonder,

sometimes I think I glimpse eternity.

 

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

 

You Lift Me Up Words and Music by Chris Eaton and Cindy Morgan

 

Climbing on a cloud, Dancing on a day dream.

I don’t have a doubt Just how good this life can be.

You lift me up.

 

Running in the rain, Singing in the sunshine

Telling all the world Why I’m so in love with life.

You lift me up.

 

Chorus

You lift me up And I’m touching the blue sky.

You lift me up, I’m on top of the world.

You lift me up, I’m getting closer to heaven.

In every little thing I love

You lift me up.

 

Headed for the stars, Riding on a moon beam

Taking me so far, Farther than I’ve ever been.

You lift me up.

Chorus

 

Bridge:

And it’s so crystal clear I’m in love

All I’ll ever want All I’ll ever need

Is right here

 

Dah dah dah n dee dah n dah dah dah dah eee doo.

Dah dah dah n dee dah n dah dah dah dah eee doo.

 

Dah dah dah n dee dah n dah dah dah dah eee doo.

Dah dah dah n dee dah n dah dah dah dah eee doo.

You are Worthy of my Praise David Ruis 2005

 

I will worship (I will worship)

With all of my heart (with all my heart)

I will praise you (I will praise you)

With all of my strength (all my strength)

I will seek you (I will seek you)

All of my days (all of my days)

I will follow (I will follow)

All of your ways (all your ways)

 

I will give you all my worship

I will give you all my praise

I alone long to worship

You alone are worthy of my praise

 

Pass it On (verses 1, 3) (Kurt Kaiser)

 

It only takes a spark to get a fire going

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing

That’s how it is with God’s love Once you’ve experienced it

You spread his love to everyone; You want to pass it on...

 

I wish for you my friend this happiness that I’ve found

You can depend on Him, It matters not where you’re bound

I’ll shout it from the mountain top I want my world to know;

The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.

 

I’ve Got the Joy Author Unknown

 

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,

Down in my heart, down in my heart!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,

Down in my heart to stay!

 

Refrain:

And it’s the greatest, grandest feeling,

And it’s a feeling here to stay!

And it’s a joy that needs revealing, So I just want to say:

 

Refrain:

 

Heart of Worship Matt Redman 2005

 

When the music fades And all is stripped away and I simply come

Longing just to bring something that’s of worth

That will bless your heart

 

 

I’ll bring you more than a song for a song in itself

Is not what you have required. You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart

 

I’m coming back to the heart of worship

And it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus

I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it

When it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus

 

Come, Now is the Time to Worship Brian Doerksen 2005

 

Come, now is the time to worship

Come, now is the time to give your heart

Come, just as you are to worship

Come, just as you are before your God Come

 

 

Conclusion

 

The debate raging in the church today over whether we should use traditional, historic liturgy or contemporary worship is not simply an argument over style or as some might suggest, a differing opinion as to whether we should focus more on style or substance. The issue really goes much deeper. It actually goes to the heart of our faith and our understanding of the Gospel. It deals with what it means to be a sinner, how sinners are saved and how the church is created. (Workshop on the Lutheran Liturgy, presentation by Rev. Daniel Preus at Glory of Christ Lutheran in Plymouth MN, February 4, 2006)

 

A Christian hymn is a place of mingling echoes – echoes of the voice of God speaking the Word and of the responses of the listening human heart. (Lutheran Worship - History and Practice, Edited by Fred L. Precht, CPH 1993.) God comes to us with his grace; with his never-ending gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. We reply with our never-ending responses of praise and thanksgiving. Unfortunately, most contemporary music is not interested in these echoes or in worship’s rhythm. Most songs written and composed in our day have a routine story line with a standardized ending. “Look at how much I love you, Lord!”

 

The purpose of this study has not been to criticize all contemporary music or to look down on those who write new songs or who agree to sing them. We still have something to learn in the Church this twenty-first century. We may benefit from any new hymns and songs, which speak of the mercy of our only God and Savior and which remind us how contemporary the Gospel is in our day.

 

Be that as it may, “contemporary” doesn’t necessarily mean “new”. One complaint about traditional worship is that most of our hymns are outdated. It is true that many of the words and texts we use in the Divine Service are ancient. The reason for this, however, is that they have stood the test over time of what constitutes true worship. Perhaps some of what our generation will contribute to the words and texts of the Divine Service will stand the test as well. Much has fallen away from past texts, and much will fall away from present texts, because it does not stand the test of what the Church recognizes as legitimate worship. Or the text does not address the need of the Church over time. What will remain and endure and transcend time will be those words (in liturgy, hymnody, and creed) that are faithful confessions of the truth. They are true to God’s unchanging Word and may be confessed by any confessional Christians in any place or time.