“We don’t sing the Psalms in our church because they don’t mention Christ.” by W. J. Mencarow, Pastor, Reformation Church, Boerne, TX
That’s probably the #1 objection to singing the Psalms in worship. Setting aside the fact that the Psalms do (to put it mildly) “mention” Christ — after all, they are largely about Him, which is no wonder since He wrote them — that they prophesy His ministry, suffering on the cross, resurrection and rule over all creation — the fact is that the Psalms do not contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Those words are not found in any of the 150 Psalms.
It recently occurred to me that if the standard that governs what we are to sing in worship is only songs that use the words “Jesus” or “Christ” — and please tell me where in the Bible we find that commanded — then we ought to take a close look at popular hymns with that standard in mind.
I went to www.hymnlyrics.org/ and clicked on “Popular Hymns” and read all the lyrics. I also read all the lyrics to “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” at www.popularhymns.com/ And I read the lyrics to all the hymns at www.hymnlyric.com.
I was amazed at what I found. Or more accurately, what I didn’t find.
Now, I have no idea how many hymns there are. It is said that Fanny Crosby alone composed about 8,000 hymns. Thus the list below could be expanded exponentially.
What strikes me is how many old standards don’t use “Jesus” or “Christ”; beloved hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “Blest Be The Tie That Binds,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” “Faith Of Our Fathers,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” — just to name a few.
I found that about a third -- 32 to be exact -- of “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” don’t mention the name “Jesus” or “Christ.”
(And my sense, without counting, is that MOST of the modern “praise songs” do not use the names.)
Popular hymns often use “God,” or “Spirit,” or “Master” or “He,” sometimes “Savior.” Many of them could be sung in a Jewish synagogue, a unitarian assembly or even a night club. Some could be also used in pagan rituals (other than unitarian); I’m thinking of the ones that sing praises to the “Spirit” and “He,” “Him” and the “Master” or even “Savior.” Cults use words like that to make Christians believe that they are worshipping the Christ of the Bible.
Some hymns, like “Was It For Me?,” appear to go out of their way NOT to use His Name (http://www.hymnlyric.com/was-it-for-me-lyrics/) “Walk Thou With Me” (htt p://w ww.hy mnlyr ic.co m/wal k-tho u-wit h-me- lyric s/) is another; even “Were You There?” http://www.hymnlyric.com/were-you-there-lyrics/)
Some of the following hymns may not be familiar to you (or to me); others are VERY familiar.
Some of the lyrics could easily be secular songs without any changes. Here are three examples of that:
After reading the lyrics to several hundred hymns I am frankly amazed at how many don’t have the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Many, possibly most, of the ones that do, only do it once. I expected to find some that don’t mention His Name, but I never expected to find so many.
And so many popular hymns are just insipid, shallow and silly — when they are not blasphemous (i.e., “May God Depend On You?” and “We All Can Do Good”). Many are clearly deist.
I wouldn’t be able to sing some of them without bursting out laughing, such as — are you ready? — Drop Kick Me, Jesus:
"Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life; End over end neither left nor to right; Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights; Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.”
Just so you know I am not making that up: http://www.hymnlyric.com/drop-kick-me-jesus-lyrics/
Please tell me that there are no churches that sing that.
Here is my starter list of the most popular hymns (and some “praise songs”) sung in churches that do NOT contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Again, I think you’ll be surprised, as I was, at some of the familiar titles.
Does your church expect you to sing any of these?
A Call To Prayer All Creatures Of Our God And King (which includes “Dear mother earth, who day by day, Unfoldest blessings on our way”) MOTHER EARTH??!!! Amazing Grace Ancient Of Days All That I Am Abide With Me Be Glorified Be Not Afraid Be Still And Know That I Am God Be Thou My Vision Believe And Obey Blest Be The Tie That Binds Breathe Upon Us Calling For You Children Of the Lord Cleanse Me Clear As Crystal Count Your Blessings Crown Him With Many Crowns Day By Day Decision The Doxology Dwelling In Beulah Land Eternal Light Faith Of Our Fathers Father Of Heaven Faith Is The Victory Gates Of The Beautiful Give Me Joy In My Heart Give Me Oil In My Lamp Give Thanks Give Me the Wings Of Faith God Is So Good (but the lyrics are so bad: http ://ww w.hym nlyri cs.or g/mos tpopu larhy mns/g od_is _so_g ood.p hp ) God Leads His Dear Children Along God Will Take Care Of You Great Is Thy Faithfulness Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah Hand And Hand Happy Sunbeams Have Thine Own Way, Lord He Has Promised Here I Am, Lord Here Is Love Holy, Holy, Holy I Am Thine, O Lord I Need Thee Every Hour I’ll Fly Away (among the silliest ones — the version by The Fifth Dimension is much better) I Need Thee Every Hour I Never Knew You (truer words were never written) In The Garden In The Sweet By And By Joy Unspeakable Joyfully Sing Just As I Am King Of The City Leaning On The Everlasting Arms Leave It There Lord Of My Life Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace May God Depend On You? Morning Has Broken My Faith Looks Up To Thee Nearer My God To Thee Now Thank We All Our God O Fly To Him O Light Of Life O Worship The King Old Time Power Old Time Religion On Let Us Go Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior Power For Service Prayer Is The Key Praise Our Creator Precious Lord, Take My Hand Pure Within Quiet Lord My Froward Heart Rest At Home Rock Of Ages Sailing Into Port Scatter Sunshine Shall We Gather At The River Seek Ye First Take My Life And Let It Be There Is A Fountain (Filled With Blood) Thou Are The Way Till The Storm Passes By Tried And True Unanswered Yet Under His Wings Up In Heaven Up And Onward Walk With Me Was It For Me? We All Can Do Good (not based on Rom. 3:12) We Are Nearing Welcome For Me Were You There? Your Mission Zion’s King Shall Reign Victorious Zion Founded On The Mountain
And even tho they don’t belong in the above list, a few deserve special mention:
“Life’s Railway To Heaven”: http://www.hymnlyric.com/lifes-railway-to-heaven-lyrics/
And I don’t know what to think of “Hand Of The Almighty.” Is this sung in churches???!!! (WARNING: Very offensive language.) http://www.hymnlyric.com/hand-of-the-almighty-lyrics/
So, if you object to singing the Psalms in worship because they don’t use the words “Jesus” or “Christ," then you’d better not sing any of the above hymns.
On the other hand, if you recognize that:
* The Psalms were written by the Triune God and given to His church, and He commanded His people to sing them in worship;
* He has never changed His commandment
* He has never given any other songs for us to sing in worship;
* He has never commanded that uninspired men write songs for worship — or for that matter, women — (many churches that would never permit a woman to teach men allow women to teach men through songs, one of the most powerful teaching tools);
* The church (Old Testament and New) always sang the Psalms and nothing else for centuries;
* If you clearly see Christ in the Psalms, and realize that if you don’t that is your failing, and that you need to pray and study more;
* If you admit that your preference for singing the hymns and praise songs you like to sing with music that appeals to you is saying that first and foremost worship should appeal to your senses, it should be what you enjoy, and what God commands and is pleased with is secondary;
If you recognize all this, then you are following the old paths. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” — Jer. 6:16
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