I’ve been reminded lately about the importance of the content of our worship music. I remember when I was very young, we sang a song at church that I was especially fond of — it had a really nice melody and appealing chord progression, and my sisters and I liked singing it around the house with all the schmultz we could muster. Anyway, it got pulled from the church repertoire, and when I asked my dad about it, he said that while it was a pretty song, the songwriter took too much poetic license and ended up on the wrong side of the truth.
That totally stuck with me, and it made me incredibly aware of every song we sang at church. It meant that ten years later, when I was in charge of song selection, I quickly overlooked the, umm, dumb songs, and thought carefully about theological implications. It also made me realize how much teaching happens in those 20 minutes of congregational singing. I haven’t memorized very many sermons, but I have hundreds of songs tucked away, shaping the way I think about and experience God.
I’ve thought about all of this again recently. This past summer, my dad sang “Happy Day” during family devotions at Aunt Judy’s house, and for whatever reason, Jameson latched onto that song as his absolute favorite. We have been singing it multiple times a week ever since — I play the piano and sing, and he drums. He doesn’t sing, and I didn’t know how much he was actually catching. Then, at Christmas time, he suddenly started interrupting me as I sang —
“Mom, why ‘happy day’?”
“Mom, what’s ‘wash my sins away’?”
“Mom, what’s ‘rescued me’? ‘Saved me’?”
One day before Christmas, I asked him, “Jameson, do you know why Jesus was born?”
His little face lit up, because he knew he had the right answer (which was totally unprompted by me!): “To wash my sins away!”
I’m suddenly not bored with singing that song anymore. We can sing it a hundred more times, and then some.* I want him to know every single word, every single nuance of meaning. I want that story to be written on his little heart, and if Happy Day is the pen that will write it, then let’s keep singing.
[*side note to worship-leading sisters: Don’t stop singing a song just because you’re sick of it. Chances are, everyone else is just starting to notice the lyrics, and aren’t they the whole point?]