Worship Music or Worship Lyrics

Our Transitional Pastor made a statement last week that I keep turning over in my head and I want your thoughts on it. He said, ” there is no Christian music, only Christian lyrics.” His contention was that it was the lyrics that made it about God, not the music itself. When he first said it I sort of nodded along, but it has been sort of in the back of my mind all week, and here is why.

I am a talker. Words are my medium of choice. I write, I speak, I read. I devour words. If you want to move me in a worship service, don’t sing a song, read a poem, or put some verses on the screen at just the right time. I am a word kind of guy.

But I know that there are lots of people who aren’t like that. There are lots of people who paint or who dance or who play music. There are lots of people who’s heart is moved by things that I find boring.

So the question for me all week has been, can you worship with music even if there are no words, even if there have never been words. This is a different question than my pastor was really talking about because he was talking about a more corporate setting where music was being played for others. I am talking about private experiences of worship.

Is there worship without words?

I bring this up because of 2 things 1) I know my arrogance and if I am not careful I have a tenancy to think that everyone sees the world as I see it and relates to God as I relate to him and if they don’t then there must be something wrong with them and 2) because there have been times when I am all alone at the church and I am practicing my guitar and all of the words fall away and the sheet music is forgotten and I just start to play. I am not a good guitar player by any means, so I am really just running through chords, but a few times I have played for no one else but for God and just sort of offered my talent up to him.

And here is my thought, if a Word Guy like me can do that then there must people some Music People out there who use their gifts in worship on a regular basis without words.

So what do you think? Is there worship without words?

2 thoughts on “Worship Music or Worship Lyrics

  1. Pastor C says:

    with the risk of offending a "word guy", i contend that the worship isn’t in the words either, but in the meaning. and sometimes, we can have meaning with no words (or words with no meaning). i think the thing about worship music is that it creates an experience. when the message of the lyrics cause emotions of adoration and reverence and awe toward God–that is what a worship leader strives for. the appropriate music (whether it’s a piano, strings, simple acoustic guitar or a full out rockin’ overdriven electric with drums and grooving bass line) can help support the lyrics and become worshipful.
    the bottom line is, where is the heart of the musician/vocalist/listener/participant? i’ve heard people sing songs that obviously were written as worshipful, sing them with not emotion and just for the "show". even then, the listeners have experienced worship (or at least excitement…for the song? for the skill? for the Lord??).
    wow, i promised myself i’d never publicly get into this debate again, but I’m drifting into it. . .i’d better stop now :)
    -c

  2. Kelli says:

    Shane,
    Here is my story for you. When David and I married I had planned to have "Longer" by Dan Folgerberg sung at the wedding. Due to divine circumstances it didn’t happen. I had been heartbroken for years over it. It is not a christian song and the lyrics are not "christian". Well several years ago while reading a John Eldridge book I was thinking about how much Jesus really loved me and questioning how He could love me so much? A few pages later, John Eldrige quoted some verses from the song "Longer". I was so moved!!!! I no longer had regret for not having the song in my wedding. Now when I hear it, I hear the Lord Himself telling me that " as long as there have been stars up in the heavans, I’ve been in love with you." There is alot more to this story, but just to comment on your blog for me worship either silent or full of words music or no music it is all about the hearts desire to please the Lord or about experiencing the Lords desire to let us know how much He does love us!!!!!!!!!!!

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