The songs we sing in worship are incredibly important. A well written hymn or song is truly a gift to the church and can often express deep theological truths in a powerful and yet understandable way. As a person who plays music and also studies scripture and doctrine the songs used in worship have always been a source of particular interest to me. I have found through the years that usually the ones that I appreciate the most are the old ones. They seem to reflect a time when the doctrinal content of the songs was deeper and richer. They seem to be more substantial and objective than much of what we hear today.
However, while it may be fun to be a bit of a curmudgeon, if I am going to be fair to modern song and hymn writers I have to acknowledge that there are other variables at play beyond the erosion of theological literacy in the church and culture. For one thing it makes sense that on average the songs that are still played from generations past would be better than the average modern song because through the years many of the less impressive pieces would simply not remain in use. This thinning of the herd takes time so we would expect a higher average for older works than modern ones. The same is true for books, art, etc. The second thing that I have to admit is that there are a lot of old songs and hymns whose theology is just as poor as many modern songs. Perhaps I will post on this at some point in the future but for a couple of good examples you can check out this article on The Gospel Coalition site.
The fact is that though it may take a bit of effort we can still find many people who are writing wonderful worship music. With the permission of Sovereign Grace Music (www.SovereignGraceMusic.org) I would like to share one recent composition that I think is just as beautiful and powerful as most of my old time favorites. For me, this song captures wonderfully the heart of any sinner who recognizes that they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Though it is new it has become one of my favorites.
These simple yet powerful lyrics were written by Jordon Kauflin. It is worth a moment to reflect upon them.
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)
You can find more information on this song and other Sovereign Grace songs on their website at www.SovereignGraceMusic.org.