‘Go compare!’ Just one Cornetto!’ ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play!’ ‘Washing machines last longer with Calgon!’ ‘…. with mild, green, Fairy liquid.’
‘If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our Club!’
I’m quite sure that it was impossible to read these advertising slogans without at least one of them bringing to mind the accompanying tune. The tune helps us to remember the words, perfect for advertising. No surprise then that in the Bible we are told to sing to God and also to each other but what words should we use? Here is a good clue from Colossians 3:16,
‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom’
This tells us that we should know the word of Christ, read it, absorb it into our hearts and minds so that it dwells in us richly, so much so that we can encourage, teach and correct one another with the wisdom that it brings. The verse goes on to say,
‘as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God’.
It’s true that when we start to speak about hymns and music in church everyone has an opinion and emotions can run high. It’s too loud, too slow, too fast, too quiet, too modern, too repetitive, too old, and it’s the wrong tune! What should really matter is that we are singing words that build us up and give glory to God, reflecting the truth about His son Jesus and all that he said and did for us. The style of music is not as important as the words. Styles come and go. We often have a preference for one or another or we might like a bit of everything. That’s okay, but someone said that if we are singing ‘rubbish’ then it will be ‘rubbish’ that dwells in our hearts richly. So, if we want the good stuff to dwell in us we must make sure that that is what’s going in! So it is right that we should be discerning when we choose hymns and songs.
Next time you sing a hymn in church or listen to Songs of Praise pay particular attention to the words. Are they biblical, edifying, giving God His worth or are they overly emotional or devoid of any real substance? When we minister to each other in song it’s important that we choose words wisely and always with God’s grace.
Finally, those jingles that started this letter, which joined words with a tune to make them memorable – can you create one for a Bible verse?
As you relax in your garden through the summer or whilst on holiday (with your Bible nearby, of course) see if you can come up with one and email or message me. If it works well I’ll teach it to others in the Benefice.
That’s your summer project! (In between watching the Olympics and following other challenges that are happening in our country at the moment!)
Many blessings to you all,
Sue Elliott – Pastoral Assistant