Friday, December 24, 2010

More Thoughts on Church Music

I’ve been thinking during Advent about the music that “contemporary Christianity” is missing. One ancient hymn most often on my mind is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. It seems that even the very title is antithetical to the typical approach in contemporary worship!

Because I fell in love with hymnody in my late teens and used their words (particularly Charles Wesley’s) in my spiritual formation, I used “old” music as an Evangelical pastor. In the closing decade of my pastoral ministry, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence would have been part of the standard repertoire going from Advent to Christmas. I must confess that for a number of years I sang some of those words with a veil over my mind:

King of kings yet born of Mary as of old on earth He stood;

Lord of lords in human vesture in the body and the blood,

He will give to all the faithful His own self for heavenly food.

In those words is the confession of the Church from the early centuries. Singing those words expands and deepens faith. Even though I didn’t “get it” until later, I look back at my early singing of this hymn as the Holy Spirit sowing seeds which would eventually bear the fruit of understanding.

It is said that when Christians sing they pray twice. Learn to pray well by singing the hymns which have been proven by the test of time.

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