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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vocal Worship

    There are many, many references to vocal worship and singing in the Bible.  Moses writing songs for the nation of Israel to sing to God, proclamations to sing praise, Solomon writes a thousand songs, songs in worship, singers are separated unto God, God gives songs in the night and Job worshipping the Lord regardless of his earthly circumstances can all be found in the Old Testament and, of course, there are numerous exhortations in the Psalms.  There are, however; a couple verses in particular in the New Testament that sum up the vocal worship of the church age believer.  

John 4:24  "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Hebrews 13:15  "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

    In this post, only the first verse will be pondered then another post for the verse in Hebrews.  
    I have mentioned John 4:24 in previous posts, but it is absolutely necessary to see:1) who God is and 2) the need to worship God in Spirit and Truth.  Much can be learned about who God is, throughout scripture.  Yet, John simply states that God is a spirit.  Of course God is a spirit being, but the Greek word translated "spirit" in this verse is πνεῦμα (pronounced: pnyoo'-mah) in which this word refers more to the personality and character.  Because God is spirit (in personality and character), believers must worship with that same spirit (character) Other scriptures detail God's character further, and specifically are seen throughout the providence of God in the O.T.  Jesus knew this and knew that the woman at the well was familiar (to some degree) with the O.T. 
    Secondly in John, is the mention of the necessity for truthful worship.  Humans are very good at making things look good, especially ourselves.  God is only concerned about our hearts worship attitude towards Him and believers can only know how to worship God by reading His instructions and John 4:24 is a very good start.
   Previous posts have already addressed the hearts worship, worship in thought life, and when it is appropiate to worship.  This post is about the believers vocal worship and, though God is concerned with our hearts attitude, our vocal worship is heard by people.  Anything that a believer does that others can see and observe is a testimony to how we view God.  Believers are commanded to worship in Spirit (God - honoring character) and Biblical truth.  Our hearts may have the most Godly character and we may think we understand all the truth about worship, but if our vocal praise and worship to God is tainted (and it is by sin), by our preferences in style, our culture, or our impressions of how we should worship, it is not very truthful and spiritual and others are watching.  Along with proclaiming God's truth is that the context needs to also be truthful.  A lot of Christian pop music has some very good lyrics that contain a lot of biblical truth, but the envelope that that truth is carried in isn't always truthful or spiritual.  There are many, many ways to sing and I have heard many different versions of, " Great is thy Faithfulness", for instance.  Knowing the difference between what is pleasing to the Lord and what may decieve us into thinking it is pleasing to the Lord involves discernment in a lot of cases, however some cases seem to be very obvious in what is appropiate or inappropriate.  There are a couple of examples that illustrate this point and because this post is about vocals and singing that reflects a proper attitude for the song, it would be best to close your eyes while the video is playing. 

   This first video illustrates an obvious reverence and soberness in respect to our country.  This can easily be determined simply by the quality of the singing.  

Example A:  National Anthem sung by veterans.

   Listening to this next rendition creates a shrill and atrocious anxiety of what is thought of about the United States. 

Example B:  National Anthem sung by Roseann Barr

   The above examples, to some, may be extreme, but they make the clear point that just the singing of a song can have a huge effect on the overall message.  This point can also be made clear with hymns.

    The singer in this example is singing one of the greatest hymns that recognizes who God is along with numerous characteristics.  The heart attitude certainly seems to be present and there is no doubt that this man is trying his best to please the Lord, but at the same time, these vocals and the "playing" seem to detract from the message of the hymn anD puts some focus on the singer.

Example C: "Great is thy Faithfulness"

     In this final example, there is clarity in the lyrics and crisp distinctions made in the vocals.  It is not hard to sense the reverence that everyone in this choir has for the message of this great hymn.

Example D: "Great is thy Faithfulness"

    Vocals are just 1 aspect in the music and the voice is powerful in changing the message to anything that the artist or performer chooses, but standing firm in the principles that God has given has long been the struggle of believers. God is faithful and also requires faithfulness in His children, not just in music, but in all of life.

1 Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

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