Praise the Lord with Cymbals…Loud Clashing CymbalsMarch 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 108 Comments
By Robin G. Jordan
O praise God in his holiness : praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him in his noble acts : praise him according to his excellent greatness.Praise him in the sound of the trumpet : praise him upon the lute and harp.Praise him in the cymbals and dances : praise him upon the strings and pipe.Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals : praise him upon the loud cymbals.Let every thing that hath breath : praise the Lord.
In reading the comments posted on the Heritage Anglican Network, a number of them relating to the use of music and musical instruments in Christian worship caught my attention. There was considerable difference of opinion over what kinds of music and what musical instruments are suitable for use in Christian worship. Disagreements over what kinds of music and what musical instruments should be used in Christian worship are not something new. Such disagreements have been occurring since the first century.
In the early Church all musical instruments were prohibited. Their prohibition was not on biblical grounds. It had to do with where musical instruments were commonly played at the time—at orgies, in brothels, and at pagan sacrifices. Among the instruments prohibited were the organ, the nose flute, and a variety of stringed instruments.
Singing in the early Church was unaccompanied and usually in unison. The early Christians also sang responsorially, the congregation repeating a common refrain after a cantor sung each verse or group of verses, a method of congregational singing that had its origin in the Jewish synagogue. Antiphonal singing, from side to side, was a later development and originated in the early monastic communities of the sixth century. During the period of the Arian controversy the Arians lured orthodox Christians into their churches with women choirs. The orthodox Christians responded with women choirs of their own. The Church would eventually ban women in choirs.
By the height of the Middle Ages singing in church had become the preserve of professional men’s choirs who sung not only in Latin but also in elaborate polyphony that deliberately sought to make the words of the song unintelligible to the listener. Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected the continued use of polyphony in worship for this reason. It was not edifying to the people. Cranmer advocated the composition of settings for the canticles and the psalms in which each syllable of a word or each word of a psalm or canticle is sung to one note. This had the affect of discouraging congregational participation in the singing even though it was intended to encourage that participation because it is much harder to sing to this kind of setting than it is to sing a setting in which a syllable or word is sung to two or more notes or two or three syllables or words to a single note.
The Reformation saw a revival of congregational singing. In Lutheran churches in Germany the chorale became the popular form of congregational song. In Reformed Churches in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, and Switzerland, however, the metrical psalm became the dominant, if not exclusive form of congregational song. The leaders of the Reformed churches commended the Psalms for singing, citing James 5:13, “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise,” and Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
This was also the case in the Church of England. While choirmasters and church music composers were highly critical of metrical psalm singing, it was extremely popular with the English people. Large crowds gathered at St. Paul’s Cross in London to sing metrical psalms for hours on end. The singing of metrical psalms was the primary form of congregation participation in the Prayer Book services. The Sternhold and Hopkins “Old Version” of The Psalms of David in Metre enjoyed a popularity that we do not fully understand today. England became a nation of psalm-singers. The common people sung metrical psalms as they went about their daily occupations. Elizabeth I, however, did not like metrical psalm singing. She derisively referred to the tunes as “Geneva jigs.” The metrical psalm tunes may in part account for their popularity. They were often sung to familiar popular melodies, the tunes of folk ballads and dances. These tunes were frequently played on the lute and other stringed instruments, the oboe and other woodwinds, and the tabor, a small hand drum. In church, however, metrical palms were usually sung unaccompanied. The parish clerk would line out a verse and the congregation would sing it after him. In a few parish churches was introduced the use of a barrel organ as a form of accompaniment. Pipe organs were found only in cathedrals and collegiate chapels, as were choirs.
In addition to the psalms, the Prayer Book canticles, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers were also rendered into metrical form. In Puritan churches these metrical versions of the Prayer Book canticles, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and other prayers were sung instead of the prose versions. Charles I, however, when he ascended the English throne, suppressed this practice. Charles I, like his Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, was a High Churchman.
The Prayer Book, the organ, and the choir were banned during the Commonwealth period. The use of the organ and the choir was restored with the use of the Prayer Book at the restoration of the monarchy and the ascension of Charles II to the English throne.
In the seventeenth century developed what is now called “west gallery music.” Local musicians and singers began to accompany the congregational singing. Galleries were built against the west wall of the church for these groups of village musicians and singers. Hence the name “west gallery music.” A number of local composers wrote settings for the metrical psalms and the small number of hymns that were used in the Church of England. Among the instruments used were the fiddle, the viola, the mandolin, the oboe, the serpent, and the penny whistle. The singers sat around the musician who played the music part that they sang. They did not sit together like a choir.
In the nineteenth century the High Church Oxford Movement introduced the hymnal, the organ and the vested choir into the English parish church. West gallery music was suppressed and the groups of village musicians and singers were disbanded. Some of these groups took refuge in the local Non-Conformist chapel. West gallery music has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. It is particularly suited for use with services from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Nineteenth century Evangelical hymn collections included a substantial number of gospel songs, which were popular in Evangelical parish churches. The hymn collections composed almost exclusively of hymns, including a large number of hymns translated from Greek and Latin, that many Anglicans associate with Anglican hymnody, were for a large part an Anglo-Catholic development.
By the twentieth century the hymnal, the organ, and the vested choir had become ubiquitous in Anglican churches, not only in the United Kingdom but also around the world. The west gallery musicians and singers had been forgotten. Even Evangelicals came to assume that the hymnal, the organ, and the vested choir were normative for Anglican worship.
The late 1950s-early 1960s saw the beginning of experimentation with other musical instruments beside the organ, the harmonium, and the piano to accompany church music. In the 1970 and 1980s the domination of the guitar and the drum set replaced the domination of the keyboard in a number of churches. Praise bands and small ensembles replaced the choir. Choruses and other informal worship songs replaced hymns. In a number of denominations the “worship wars” heated up, with proponents of the organ, the hymn, and the choir on one side and the proponents of the guitar, the worship song, and the praise band on the other side.
A few brave souls took an eclectic approach to church music, using the organ, the guitar, the hymn and the worship song. This approach is known as “blended worship,” which seeks to creatively use the old and the new together. It has led to the development of what is called the “new traditional” style of church music, a mix of traditional hymns, metrical psalms, spirituals, gospel songs and more recent compositions, including the older choruses and worship songs.
The twentieth century saw an explosion of new compositions and tunes—hymns, metrical and responsorial versions of the psalms and canticles, anthems, and other forms of church music. That explosion turned into a great mountain of church music. Hymns and songs from the Roman Catholic Church and the World Church found their way into the newer Protestant hymnals. Hymns and songs from the Anglican Church found their way into the newer Roman Catholic hymnals.
In the twenty-first century church then a visitor is likely to find one of three styles of church music—“contemporary,” nothing older than the past 10 years; “old traditional,” nothing newer than the 1950s, and “new traditional.” The visitor is also likely to find a number of styles of church music that reflect the ethnicity and national origin of the congregation.
Can any one style of church music be regarded as distinctively “Anglican”? A number of years ago the new music director in my former parish told the choir that she was going to use more “Anglican” music on Sunday mornings. In my mind I asked myself what kind of music was she intending to use. In Africa Anglican congregations sing to the accompaniment of drums and foot stamping. They also sing without accompaniment in natural four-part harmony. In Central and South America the acoustical guitar is a common form of accompaniment for congregational singing in Anglican churches. At All Souls, Langham Place, a flagship Evangelical parish in London, England a full orchestra, including brass, percussion, strings, and woodwinds, accompanies the congregational singing. All of these styles of church music are “Anglican”. The music that she had in mind was “old traditional,” largely drawn from the Episcopal hymnal. It would not have dawned on her that these other styles of music are also “Anglican.”
In learning to appreciate the different forms of church music it is helpful to think of each form as being a part of the witness of a particular group of Christians in a particular time and a particular place. It is their proclamation of the excellencies of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. It is their testimony to their faith in God and Jesus Christ. It is their contribution to the upbuilding of the Church of Jesus Christ. In using these forms, we are like the householder who takes from his storage room treasures new and old. Some people want to quarrel with the design of a particular object, the materials from which it is made, its decoration, and its workmanship instead of valuing each object for what it is—a unique creation reflecting a particular group of Christians, a particular place, and a particular time.
The use of percussion instruments is a major source of controversy in both Anglican and non-Anglican churches. Some congregations will tolerate the use of the guitar and other stringed instruments in worship but draw the line at the use of percussion instruments. The controversy over the use of percussion instruments largely stems from the association of percussion instruments in most people’s minds with the drum set of a rock and roll band. They are often oblivious to the fact that the piano is a percussion instrument. The pianist strikes a key that causes a hammer to strike a taught wire producing a musical sound. For teaching new hymns and songs and leading and supporting congregational singing, the piano is the best musical instrument. A congregation is better able to hear notes played on a piano than an organ and a pianist cannot drown out the congregation’s singing with a piano. The only drawback of a piano is that some hymns benefit from the fuller sound of an organ.
The piano is not the only percussion instrument that can be used in worship. Other percussion instruments include the glockenspiel, stacked bells, hand bells, cowbells, the djembe—an African hand drum, conga drums, West Indian steel drums, the bhodran—an Irish hand drum, the xylophone, marimbas, the kalimba—the African finger piano, wooden box drums, claves, finger cymbals, and the human hand. These percussion instruments can be put to a number of good uses. For example, hand bells can be used to give pitches, accompany psalm chants and hymns, and to enrich the great songs of the liturgy such as the Te Deum, Benedicite, and Gloria in Excelsis. A djembe can be used to establish the rhythm of a number of songs, especially those using African and West Indian tunes, and to maintain their tempo. A tune that comes to mind is LINSTEAD, Doreen Potter’s adaptation of a Jamaican folk tune, that is used as the setting of a number of hymns, including Stephen P. Stark’s metrical paraphrase of the Benedicite. “All You Works of God, Bless the Lord!” All of these instruments can be coupled with the human voice to give glory to God.
As with any instrument the key is how the instrument is used. The drummer who plays so loudly that he drowns out the voices of all but the amplified voices of the vocalists in the praise band is no different than the organist who plays so loudly that he drowns out the voices of both choir and congregation. At the same time it must be recognized that there are generational differences that enter into the equation. Younger congregations that prefer contemporary Christian and praise and worship songs do not want to hear their own voices. They also want to “feel the beat.” Older congregations who share the younger generations’ preference for contemporary Christian and praise and worship songs, prefer the sound system to be turned down a few notches so that they not only can hear the vocalists but also themselves.
Evangelicals have just begun to recognize the problem of worship leaders whose electronically amplified voices dominate the singing in the worshiping assembly. Roman Catholics have recognized this problem for a number of years. The dominance of the voice of a cantor with a microphone discourages the assembly from singing. In an excellent article that he wrote a few years ago Marty Haugen urged Roman Catholic worship leaders to get rid of their microphones and musical instruments and lead the assembly in singing simple hymns and songs without accompaniment from the midst of the assembly and not from upfront.
In a number of emerging churches the praise band has been moved from the front of the room in which the assembly gathers for worship to the back of the room. Putting them at the back of the room changes their relationship with the congregation. They are no longer seen as performers and the congregation as an audience. The members of the congregation are restored to their proper role as performers and God to his rightful role as the audience. At the back of the room the praise band can also provide better support to the singing of the assembly.
The organ is regarded in some quarters as the only suitable musical instrument for Anglican worship. But the organ has had a checkered history in the Church as noted above. In the sixteenth century “Puritan Churchmen” objected to the use of the barrel organ in English parish churches to accompany congregational singing. They took the position that some Reformed churches such as the Scottish Free Presbyterian Church retain to this day, that congregational singing should be a cappella. Like the Churches of Christ they argued that there was no Scriptural warrant for the use of musical instruments in Christian worship. The use of the organ did not become widespread in the Church of England until the nineteenth century and then due to the growth and increased influence of the High Church Oxford Movement. The nineteenth century also saw the substitution of the harmonium, a keyboard instrument with metal reeds, for the larger pipe organ in a number of small parish churches and mission halls. A harmonium has a foot-operated bellows that the player of the harmonium pumps while playing. In the twentieth century the electronic organ replaced the harmonium but the quality of the sound was not much better than that of the harmonium. The quality of the sound of electronic organs has improved greatly over the past 40 years but a good quality well-tuned upright piano is still the best musical instrument for accompanying congregational singing in a small church. It is also much easier to find a competent piano player than a competent organist. With a piano other musical instruments can be used to embellish a hymn or song.
In a number of churches congregational singing is experiencing a decline. Behind this decline is the failure of these churches to not take the right steps to encourage and foster congregational singing. Church sanctuaries and worship centers are built with padded seating, carpeted floors and platforms and the wrong kind of acoustics for congregational singing. Songs that are difficult for congregations to sing are selected for Sunday worship. Congregations are not given an opportunity to hear themselves sing as a congregation. Worship leaders have abnegated their role as leaders of congregational song, which include helping the congregation to learn and master new songs, as well as leading the singing of the assembly. Churches do not produce CDs and downloadable MP3s and I-pod broadcasts of the songs used in Sunday worship so that members of the congregation can sing them at home, on the way to work, and elsewhere. Churches are not stressing the importance of congregational participation in the singing on Sundays.
A number of cultural factors have also worked against congregational singing. The decline of singing as a family, community, and school activity and the stress of TV and radio on singing as an activity of professionals are among these factors. However, the popularity of karaoke and TV shows like American Idol suggest that Americans still sing. People also sing along with the CD player, radio, or I-pod.
One style of church music does not fit all churches. The situation of each church is unique. Factors such as the ministry focus group that it is trying to reach, the musical resources of the congregation, the musical preferences of the community and region in which the church is located should all be considered in determining what styles of music should be used in the worship of a congregation. A congregation’s choice of music can become an obstacle to its gospel ministry. A congregation that adopts classical music for its worship in a community and region in which only a very small number of people are attracted to classical music significantly limits the size of the segment of the population to which it can proclaim the gospel.
Thom Rainer in his research interviewed the newly churched to determine what part that the music used in worship played in attracting them to a particular church and keeping them in that church. He found that it was not so much the style of music as it was the attention that the church paid to the quality of the music that it used in its worship. This attention showed to the unchurched that the members of the church put a high value on worship. This is what attracted them to the church and kept them in it. This finding, however, does not rule out the importance of considering the ministry focus group of the church and musical preferences of its community and region in the choice of music for its worship. The implication, however, is that whatever music a church uses in the worship of a congregation should be done well. In choosing the styles of music to be used in the worship of a congregation, the capacity of the church to do these music styles well should also be a consideration. It is important to select what the church can do and do well.
This leads to a number of other important considerations in the choice of music for worship. The first of these considerations is theological content. Are the language, images, and motifs in a hymn or song biblical? Is what the hymn or song is saying agreeable to Scripture? Is what it is saying theologically sound? A hymn or song may have a very appealing, singable tune but its wording may teach something other than what the Bible teaches.
A second consideration is the type of song and the juncture in the service in which it will be used. By “song” I am referring to hymns, canticles, psalms, anthems, choruses, worship songs, acclamations, service music, and the like. Among the types of songs are calls to worship, invocations of the Holy Spirit, songs of praise, songs of adoration, songs of exhortation, songs of encouragement, songs of invitation to discipleship, songs of dismissal or sending-forth, and songs of response. The latter includes songs of affirmation, songs of commitment, and songs of self-dedication. A song may fit in a number of these categories or it may fit in only one category. Knowing the type of a song is helpful in deciding where it can be used to best advantage.
A song needs to make sense where it is used. It fits that particular juncture in the service. Choosing, for example, a post-communion hymn or a dismissal hymn for the beginning of the service not only invites the congregation to sing nonsense but it devaluates the place of music in the service. It is critical in planning the music of a service to treat songs as an integral part of the service and not as something ancillary to the service. Care should also be taken that the lyrics of the song do not contradict what precedes it or follows it. A classical example of a worship planner not paying attention to what preceded or followed a song is the accompanist who picked “Shall We Gather at the River” for the hymn after the sermon. In the sermon the pastor urged the drinkers in the congregation to stop drinking and to throw into the river the bottles of whatever they drank so they would not be tempted to keep drinking. The song urged the people to gather at the river.
The mood of a song should also match the mood of the juncture in the service in which it is used. A fast upbeat praise song, while it might be a good choice for the opening of the service, would be a poor choice for a more meditative part of the service such as the distribution of the Communion.
A third consideration is the accessibility of a song. Can the congregation be expected to master the song within a reasonable interval of time? If it takes the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band more than a couple of rehearsals to learn a song, the song may be too difficult for the average singer in the congregation. The primary role of the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band is to lead and support the congregation in praising and worshiping God in song. It is not to worship on the behalf of the congregation. Special music is secondary. The Revelation to John gives us a picture of heavenly worship. The redeemed are not listening to the heavenly choir lauding and magnifying God and the Lamb. They are part of that choir! Life on earth is a preparation for life in heaven. Those who attend church services in which the choir, cantor, or vocalists in the praise band do most of the singing may come away from these services feeling that they have worshiped God. However, they have not been prepared for the worship of heaven.
When the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band do most of the singing, it is a denial of the New Testament doctrine that we need no one to represent us before God since we have Jesus Christ as our mediator and advocate and he is the only representative that we need. It is also a denial of the New Testament doctrine that God has called us to serve him as a royal priesthood proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We proclaim his excellencies—his great merits—through reading aloud his story from the Scriptures in the assembly of the faithful on Sunday morning and other times; through telling the children in Sunday school what he has done; through giving our testimony in the assembly how his story and our story intersect; through sharing the gospel, the story of salvation, with friends, neighbors, and relatives; and through singing God’s praises and extolling his mighty deeds in the assembly.
It is useful to think of the songs in a church service as a part of conversation that is going on not only between God and ourselves but also among ourselves. In the songs we speak to God and God speaks to us. We speak about God and ourselves. We also speak to each other. In all parts of this conversation God is speaking. He is giving us the words, as well as prompting us to speak.
One of the complaints that is commonly heard about contemporary Christian and praise and worship music is that it focuses too much upon the individual and his relationship to God and not enough upon God himself, his attributes, his promises, and his dealings with humankind. Most songs fall into one of two categories—songs to God and songs about God. Both kinds of songs have a place in worship. If we look in the Bible, we will find both kinds of songs in the Book of Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible. A song to God usually begins with these or similar words, “ I will extol you, my God and King…” or “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth….” A song about God typically begins with words like, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…” or “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain….” A skilled worship planner will seek to strike a balance between the two kinds of songs. This balance will vary from Sunday to Sunday. The lessons, the sermon, and the occasion are the principal determining factors. However, they are not the only determining factors. There is no set formula that worship planners can follow. Some Sundays the lessons, the sermon, and the occasion will require more songs of one kind than of the other. As a rule of thumb it is generally best to start with songs about God and then to switch to songs to God but this is not a hard and fast rule. At the conclusion of the service a song that reminds the congregation of how they are expected to serve God in the world is desirable. This may require a song that is directed at the congregation.
A fourth consideration is the tunefulness of a song, that is, the melodiousness of the setting to which the song is sung. Tunefulness is to a large extent a subjective judgment. What may be a tuneful series of notes to one person’s ear may not to another. In evaluating the tunefulness of a song, it is helpful to ask the following questions: Will this song sound tuneful to the larger part of the congregation? Is it a tune that they will over a reasonable interval of time come to like and enjoy? Will it sound tuneful to a larger part of the church’s ministry focus group? Is it a tune that they too will come to like and enjoy? And so on.
A congregation that has been exposed to a wide variety of different forms of church music and a wide range of tunes can be expected to consider a much larger number of songs as tuneful than a congregation that has been exposed to only one or two forms of church music and a limited range of tunes. Our sense of what is a tuneful series of notes is acquired. A musician trained in classic music may not consider tuneful a series of notes that a congregation that has no classical music training considers tuneful. The culture or subculture to which we belong also influences what series of notes we are likely to consider tuneful.
A fifth consideration is the suitability of the tune to the mood of the song. This is one of the weaknesses of a number of the older hymn tunes. They do not capture the tone, or mood, of the hymn with which they are used. The lyrics of a hymn may speak of joyfully praising God but the tune to modern ears is mournful, more suitable for a dirge or a lament. One option is to substitute a new tune for the old one, a tune that matches more closely the tone of the hymn.
Our choice of music for church services, the songs that we select, are a part of the welcome that we extend to first time worship visitors. For eight years I collaborated with the first music director of my former parish in planning the music for Sunday mornings. At my suggestion we adopted the policy of using for hymns tunes that would not only be familiar to Episcopalians but also Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. We used as a guide the Ecumenical Hymn List that listed the most commonly used tunes for the most widely used hymns. We also picked from this list the hymns that we used. In their selection of hymn tunes for The Hymnal 1940 its editors had chosen the tunes to which certain hymns were set in English hymnals rather than American hymnals. Consequently the tunes were unfamiliar to visitors from non-Episcopal church background.
Unaffiliated Episcopalians comprised a very tiny segment of the unchurched population of our community. Rather than confining ourselves to these rare and difficult-to-catch fish, we baited our hooks for the fish that swam in our pond, our target area, in larger numbers—unchurched families and individuals with a non-Episcopal church background and those with no church background at all. Our church was at the time a small mission congregation that met for worship in a storefront. The church had no organ, no pews, no stained glass windows, no polished brass, no flickering candles, no needlepoint embroidered kneelers, and the like. The trickle of Episcopalians new to the community who did visit us generally did not stay for any length of time. They missed these things. The honest ones told us that they could not worship God without them. They did not feel like they were “in a real church.”
In addition to hymn and hymn tune selections from the Ecumenical Hymn List, we also used a number of new hymns and new metrical versions of psalms and canticles from the Hope Publishing/Jubilate Hymns hymnal and music collection series as well as a number of what were then called “celebration songs” from Come Celebrate, the Scripture in Song series, Songs of Celebration, the Songs of Praise series, the Sounds of Living Water series, and other sources. The latter are fairly simple hymns and songs, a number of which are so easy to learn that they seem to sing themselves.
When asked what kept them coming to our church, newcomers put at the top of the list the friendliness and warmth of the congregation, the type of music used in the church services, and the enthusiastic participation of the congregation in that music. This is what brought them back Sunday after Sunday. In the process they heard the message of the gospel not only preached from the pulpit but also proclaimed in the adult Bible study classes that set the church apart from all of the churches in the deanery and most of the churches in the diocese.
In the nineteenth century Anglican missionaries traveled to Africa and other parts of the world in order to proclaim the gospel to the peoples of these parts of the world. Yet they often made little headway. This was largely due to their approach. They established a mission station. The handful of people they were able to attract the mission station were expected to learn the English language, to adopt English customs, to wear English clothes, to sing English hymns, and to cross a number of other hurdles in order to hear the gospel. Consequently, these missionaries made few converts. Contemporary missionaries and contemporary missiology has learned from this experience. The task of the missionary is to spread the gospel and not to spread his national culture or church ethos. But many churches in North America have yet to apply this lesson to the world’s largest English speaking mission field, Canada and the United States. They continue to act like nineteenth century missionaries, expecting those to whom they should be bringing the gospel message first to acquire their tastes in music and worship. Instead of advancing the gospel, they are erecting barriers to the gospel. We need to take care that we do not fall into the same trap.
When I advocate tailoring the music used in the services of a church to the particular circumstances of the church and making it friendlier to outsiders, I am NOT advocating modifying the gospel message to make it more acceptable to a particular ministry focus group. Too often latter is erroneously equated with the former. The use of a particular style of music other than that favored by the individual equating the three is then criticized as diluting the gospel message. Songs are not the only means by which the gospel is conveyed. Scripture readings, sermons, study groups, newcomer orientation sessions, membership classes, and discipleship training seminars are important means of communicating the gospel.
Songs are certainly an important means of reinforcing the gospel message. Whatever forms of church music are used in a service, I do recommend that worship planners should select a number of songs to highlight or emphasize different aspects of the gospel at each service. These aspects should not be the same ones Sunday after Sunday. At the same time a careful balance needs to be struck between the devotional and the didactic elements of a service. The songs of the service are there to help us to voice our praise and adoration of God as well as to inform and instruct.