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“Multi-Purpose Hymns”

Categories: Christian Living, GOD, Sunday Family Report Articles, The Church, Worship

Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel... And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness, for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring.’” (Deut. 31:19, 21)

Since he is the Creator of music, it should not surprise us that God would make use of song to draw people toward himself—both by moving us emotionally and instructing us doctrinally. This song, penned through Moses, was designed to do both. As it would witness against the children of Israel, it was to teach their later generations of the great evil they would inevitably do by departing from God’s ways. As our songs and hymns are meant to do, it would be used for “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).

The assembled masses of God’s people must be thoroughly attentive to the quality of the hymns that we sing. If we are aware enough to appreciate them, they will often challenge us, convict us, and therefore sadden us into repentance. In many cases, they witness against us as they teach us and admonish us. And we must let them continue to do this.

In the event that our hymnody were to become unidimensional so that we we lost sight of the true exhortation and “witness” we are to receive from them, I fear we would incur a perspective from God similar to that which he described in the time of the prophet Amos. While the nation’s souls morally decayed into idolatry and injustice, they continued to sing songs of praise and self-confidence to God. And God said, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen” (Amos 5:23).

Hymns which only validate us—even while we are in our sins—do a disservice to the true power God would exhibit through song.

Let us then be judicious in choosing hymns for worship assemblies and in actively participating in our hymns. Because we need them to accurately praise the Lord of hosts. And we need them, on occasion, to witness against us and pull us back into his glorious presence.

- Dan Lankford, minister