I often wonder if Christians pay any attention to the words of the hymns and choruses they sing. And if they do, are they honest about the things they say in song?

Words just roll off your lips when they are set to music. The tune moves them along in such a way that their meaning is often lost.  Remove the music and read the words as poetry and one can more readily sense the intended message that is often missed when music is added.

I don’t believe that people are deliberately dishonest when they sing the songs of faith. Rather, I suspect that they are just caught up in the tune and not really conscious of the lyrics.

I love “church music.” Next to the Bible, the hymnal has provided me with more inspiration than anything else. There are songs new and old with solid theology- and there are others that miss the mark. I find much strength and instruction in the songs of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, whether the songs are historic hymns of the Church or recently penned lyrics, it is easy to

  • make a lot of declarations that we don’t understand.
  • proclaim a lot of truth that we may not really believe.
  • express faith that we don’t really have- or at least are not sure of.
  • ask for things that we are not ready to receive.
  • make promises that we don’t plan to keep.

For instance, the second verse of I Am Thine O Lord says, “Consecrate me now to thy service Lord by the power of grace divine. Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope and my will be lost in thine.” Are we really ready to give up our desires and allow God’s will to take over?

We sing “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.” But I fear the truth is that while most of us may love “the story,” most of us don’t delight in telling it. It seems to me that most of us (note that I said us) who claim the name of Christ are rather timid about sharing the Good News of God’s love through Jesus Christ. If more Christians who sang those words were serious about telling “the story of Jesus and his love,” there would be many more people who would hear the story and believe.

We proclaim with much gusto that “Our God is an awesome God who reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power, and love.” But are our lives a demonstration of confidence in a God who relates to all creation with “wisdom, power, and love?” Wouldn’t  fear and despair dissipate if we lived the faith we sing?

All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust him.” Really? Maybe that is the goal that we are aiming for but do our daily actions and attitudes reflect a spirit of full surrender?

Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the words we sing. Or maybe when we give voice to the songs of the Church we are really declaring, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” I hope that is so.

Jamie Jenkins

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