Preacher/Author: Matt Merker Category: Articles, Corporate Worship, Capitol Hill Baptist Church
One of the greatest privileges we have as a congregation is to praise God together in song. Because music is such a powerful vehicle for glorifying God and encouraging one another, our desire is to approach worship through song with deliberate thought and care. Here are five main considerations that give shape to our use of music in the services of CHBC.
We strive to exalt biblical truth in music that leads to an appropriate emotional response. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” God created music as a medium that stirs great emotion in the human heart. Our goal is to harness this power responsibly by using music to highlight and celebrate biblical truth. We recognize that music can make people feel certain emotions regardless of the lyrics’ message, so we’re careful both to pick songs that have profound biblical content and to avoid over-emotionalizing our music. The emotion in worship should be a response to the truth of who God is and what he has done.
2. We strive to cultivate rich congregational singing. When John views God’s throne room in Revelation 5-7, the whole gathered congregation joins their voices together to praise the Lamb. Our goal is for singing to be a participatory experience, not an observational experience. Paul tells the Ephesians to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19), which reminds us that although our worship through song is primarily God-oriented, it also has a secondary purpose of encouraging one another. For this reason, we print the music for many of our songs to make the melodies (and harmonies) easier to learn, we have plain rather than overwhelming musical instrumentation, and we avoid performances and “special music” in our services.
3. We strive to use a simple musical style that promotes unity. Our prayer is that CHBC would be a community of faith that includes people from all backgrounds and cultures, united in our trust in Jesus Christ. When it comes to worshiping God, the style of music we use is extremely unimportant in a theological sense. Therefore, our hope is that by using a simple style with minimal arrangement and instrumentation, a diverse group of people with varying musical tastes would be able to sing together and enjoy unity around the lyrical content of the songs. The musical style may not be everyone’s favorite, but that means worship through song is an opportunity for all of us to sacrifice our personal preferences for the sake of the whole congregation.
4. We strive to appreciate God-honoring music from all eras. In our services, our aim is to incorporate not the “best of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today,” but the best from all of the periods of Christian history from which we have music – including today. Singing edifying hymns from long ago is one way that we appreciate the witness of our brothers and sisters from past centuries who have persevered in the faith.
5. We strive to reflect the full spectrum of the Christian experience in our music. Our goal is to sing music that captures the whole array of the Christian life – from the sorrow we have over our sin to the joy of our redemption in Christ, and from the happy expectancy of heaven to the pain of trials and persecution. We see this variety of expression conveyed wonderfully throughout the Psalms. Some of the slower, minor key songs we sing at CHBC may be new to you, but we pray that these hymns would become helpful companions to you during times of suffering, as they have for so many of us.