August 16, 2019

Make Music in Your Heart to God!

I spent some time this looking for appropriate songs to fit the 122th anniversary service of the congregation I pastor. In my search I discovered a hymn book from the Holiness Movement Church in Canada. This denomination joined the Free Methodist Church in 1958, the same year The Gospel Workers Church joined the Church of the Nazarene, which our congregation is connected with.

This hymnal was published in Ottawa, Canada in 1902. My copy is a words only edition, so I have no idea what the tunes are to most of the songs. In fact I do not recognize most of the songs. More than 100 of the 600 songs in the book are connected to the concept of holiness in some way. I did not take the time to calculate it out, because of how the layout of our current hymn book is set up, but the percentage of holiness related songs is significantly less than this old Hymn Book was.

I understand, in many locations today, hymns have been replace by worship style songs and choruses. The intent of the old hymns was to provide a context for building a strong Biblical foundation for faith and spiritual growth in the lives of those who had said YES to the relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. We have been working through our computer software used for congregational singing to remove the “thees” and “thous” in the hymns, while including some choruses which have meaningful and Biblical content.

I personally desire for the Holy Spirit to be the one who engages and lifts the hearts of those present and not a pattern of emotional manipulation to provide a sort of “spiritual high.” In reading through some of the hymns from the Holiness Movement Church in Canada I was impressed at how the full experience of holiness was being built out. If someone was paying attention to the words they would have a better understanding that holiness truly is “the perfect alignment of our life with pure, selfless love,” as demonstrated by Jesus.

Music is an important part of our connection to God. Psalm 100:1-5, “Shout for joy to Yahweh, all the earth. {2} Worship Yahweh with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. {3} Know that Yahweh is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. {4} Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. {5} For Yahweh is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Make music in your heart to God!

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