Finding new themes for congregational singing — Hugh Wetmore

Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.

The Bible is one of the most comprehensive books ever compiled! And God had the major hand in this compilation. God wants His pastors to preach the Word. Be prepared, whether the time is favourable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For the time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. — 2 Timothy 4:2-3

What the apostle Paul says about preaching he also says about singing: “The rich and wise teachings of God’s Word must be taught, and used to correct, God’s people. This must be done by singing these teachings and corrections to each other” (Colossians 3:16, paraphrased). Otherwise our singing will degenerate to follow “our own desires” and tickle “our itching ears”.

Pastors must be tuned into the realities which their congregations face. They must ensure that God’s people are influenced more by God’s Word than by politicians. The politically correct ideas of today will be obsolete tomorrow. But God’s Word is firmly fixed in the heavens — Psalm 119:89. This is the Word we must preach with confidence.

If the Bible writes about it, and the pastor preaches on it, then we should sing about it! We should sing the teachings of the Bible with the same confidence the pastor has when he preaches them. These teachings cover the widest possible range of themes.

Each week the worship leader and the pastor should meet to plan the next Sunday service. The pastor will have chosen the text, the theme, for the sermon. The songs that immediately precede and succeed the sermon should be themed around that text, that sermon. There should be a clear link between the Scripture, the Sermon and the Songs. This kind of Scripture-Sermon-Song integration will pack spiritual effectiveness into God’s message for His people. (If you are a pastor or song-leader, please read this paragraph thoughtfully, twice! It is so important.)

A prime example of this Scripture-Sermon-Song integration is given in Deuteronomy chapters 31 and 32. God instructed Moses to condense his preceding sermons into a song and teach the song to the people. They will forget Moses’ sermons, but they won’t forget his song. This song will speak to them when they are tempted to follow other gods and heathen cultural customs. So write down the words of this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them to learn it so it will serve as a witness for Me … — 31:19. To this day we sing part of that song:

Ascribe greatness to our God, the Rock,
His work is perfect, and all His ways are just.
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
good and upright is He. — 31:4

This song will be part of the repertoire we sing together in heaven They were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God … Great and marvellous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Just and true are Your ways … — Revelation 15:3-4.

Celebrate the permanent power of singing God’s Word! Sing songs that integrate with the Scripture and the Sermon! Pack a Holy Spirit inspired singing punch into the preached Word!

Next month we will give practical tips on how to integrate Scripture, Sermon and Song.

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