Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pastor & Worship

Here is a great quote from Louis F. Benson, The Hymnody of the Christian Church (1927), preface, vi-vii:

“A good Providence has committed to the hands of every pastor, for such use as he can make of them, the three arts that lie nearest the human heart, - speech, poetry and music. The mission of poetry and music no doubt transcends the limits of congregational singing, but nevertheless it proves most spiritually effective in a self-expression by the people themselves in common song. . . .
Hymnody, then, is a spiritual function, and its welfare proceeds from the heart. Nevertheless its congregational expression needs guidance and a thoughtful ordering as much now as at Corinth in the days of St. Paul. Most of all it needs the inspiration which can only be imparted to preoccupied hearts by a pastor who cherishes it as among the best of God’s gifts, and understands it because he has learned the lessons of its chequered history, has measured its resources and traced the different lines of its ministry; and who is resolute to cultivate the spirit of song among his people.”

Note these points:
1) The pastoral value of poetry and music
2) The importance, value and power of congregational singing
3) The need for leadership in guiding the people to properly understand and appreciate the songs so that they might arise freely from the heart. It is true that authentic worship must arise from the heart, but it will not properly flow from “preoccupied hearts” without teaching and nurturing. And that, pastors, is our job.

May we too be “resolute to cultivate the spirit of song” among our people. Appreciation of congregational singing is no mere personal ‘taste.’ It is a spiritual issue, a deep need of our people; and we must lead, teach, and nurture so as to inculcate this value for the good of the souls of our people.

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