Awhile ago, I posted a few comments on the benediction in Numbers 6. It seemed of interest to some, so here's the sermon I preached Sunday night on the same passage:
mp3 (smaller file)
Jon Edwards, a friend I'm glad to hear from, had some great thoughts on "Christian" art in response to my last post. You can read them on his site here. Someone else noted that I was wrong about Christianity Today not dealing at all with "secular" music. They do some reviews of such albums here; I stand corrected. But I would point out that their reviews are geared toward finding "spiritual themes...outside the Christian subculture." Why do this? According to CT, mostly for the work of evangelism, so we can have a point of contact with unbelievers. This is a great reason to examine not-explicitly-Christian music. But is it the only one? Why not review albums just to see which one rocks the best, which new jazz album swings the hardest, etc.?
I had the privilege of hearing a wonderfully illuminating sermon at presbytery yesterday on 1 Chronicles 25:1-7. On the surface, it's a rather boring list of the hymn-writers and musicians working under David for the new temple. But as the preacher dug into it, he showed some very important things about the church's hymnody:
1. The author of Chronicles strives to make clear that the chief writers (Asaph, Heman & Jeduthun) were inspired by the Holy Spirit when they wrote songs for God's worship. This is the import of saying that they "prophesied with lyres, with haprs, and with cymbals."
2. Even more striking, though, may be their other qualification. Not just were these men set apart by Spiritual inspiration, they were always under the authority of David, the King of Israel. The preacher went on to show that the leader of Israel was also their chief songleader. From Moses to Joshua to David to Solomon to Hezekiah - not only were the leaders leading in civil matters, but they were the ones commissioned and allowed (because of their position) to write new songs and lead the people in singing those new songs.
What does this mean for us? First, both of these qualifications for hymn-writers should lead us to much more circumspection regarding the importation of newly-written hymns into worship; songs written by men and women not infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit and not serving the King of Israel by direct commission. More importantly, though, we need to realize that when we gather to sing as the people of God, we are not just singing to God, but we are singing with Christ. Jesus is our songleader in worship, the perfectly righteous King who leads His people in praise. What a wonderful vision of worship! If we believed this, how much would change in our approach to questions of what songs are allowed in worship? If Christ is really our songleader, clearly we need to sing the songs of Christ, the songs He inspired, the songs He Himself sang.