I attend the youth ministry at my church, and like many youth groups, we play contemporary Christian music. I notice that these songs can often be much more stirring to sing than the old hymns, and more heartfelt at times.
One big problem, however, occurs when we sing new songs or get too focused on singing a song well. Personally, I find it difficult to sing from my heart a song I’ve never seen before. I’m unfamiliar with the tunes and the lyrics, leaving me to stay silent as I try to get used to the song. Also, there are times when I’m conscious of my singing or my voice – such as those times when I have a bad cold and a hoarse voice – where I get too distracted trying to sing well. The rest of the time I’m so busy singing, I actually forget what I’m singing in the first place – because I’m so used to the song. It then becomes easy to lose focus of what worship is truly about: standing before God, acknowledging His presence, and letting my praise flow to Him in music.
However, new songs can be excellent at times. If the song is really well written, you can read the lyrics – not busy trying to sing – and understand the songwriter’s motives behind writing it. Often times when I sing a very familiar song, I kind of forget the whole meaning of it… unless of course I know the words really well and sing them as an extension of my thanksgiving to God, experiencing the words in their full power.
Every once in a while, I find it extremely helpful and encouraging to just be silent as the music plays. Read the lyrics and meditate on them, and try to figure out if there are any subliminal, deeper meanings between the words. Silently pray ad talk to God, acknowledging the words and presenting them to God in prayer as your praise. It’s a completely different experience than from singing the words. Your worship might become more real, with the knowledge that you aren’t simply singing… you are actually giving to God all the praise and glory He deserves.
With that, I urge you to give this a try. Whether you sing hymns or contemporary songs, take a minute or two to really think on the words, and honestly present your praise to God in full adoration of who He is.
If you do so with a heart full of thanksgiving, you will surely reap heartwarming results.