Last month I shared an observation someone made online about worship music. The person had been studying the psalms, the Bible’s book of worship. Afterwards, he surveyed the CCLI’s 25 most popular worship songs. CCLI is the Christian Copyright Licensing International. This is the company that provides the copyright your church uses so you can sing a lot of the songs you like on Sundays. It’s a gross understatement, but the CCLI is how artists get paid.
His observation was about what was missing from the most popular worship songs. Now, this was one person’s look at one list. There could’ve been things he missed. Knowing almost all the top 25 songs myself, I’m inclined to affirm his five observations. There are consistent themes found in the psalms that are missing from much of our modern worship.
What’s missing first is God’s justice. Apparently, justice is only mentioned once within CCLI’s finest. I’ll combine the next two absentee themes. So many of the worship songs we know and love forego any mention of the poor, the widow, refugees or the oppressed. Good luck getting by without hearing about those people in the psalms.
The next category of people missing in modern worship is enemies. Actual people considered to be enemies. Do I need to remind you of prayers like Psalm 137:9?
And, finally, what’s missing from our worship are questions. Modern worship doesn’t ask a lot of questions. It’s occupied repeating the chorus twelve times.
To be sure, none of this is a critique of modern worship music only. I’ve been paying extra attention to the hymns my church has been singing lately. Don’t be too quick to assume the hymns you love do a better job of reflecting the worship of the psalms.
I offer all that to you for your consideration. That gives you something to think about the next time you’re listening to “Christian” radio in your car. See what you notice as you worship with your church this weekend.
This is important because you are what you worship.
If our worship doesn’t take in the full scope of what it means to be human, our perspective will be limited. Looking at the condition of much of the American church today, I would say it is limited. Damaged, even.
And I’ll use the Edomites as an example of why that’s unfaithful. This was a people group related to the Israelites. Over time, they maintained a hostile relationship. When the Israelites were overtaken by Babylon, the Edomites did nothing to help their fellow ancestors. Instead, they added to their pain and turmoil. The prophet Obadiah accused them of stepping aside to let their enemies do whatever they wanted to them.
Most of the short book of Obadiah is the prophet acknowledging the Edomites’ unconcern for others. Their only concern, of course, was for themselves. They knew what was happening to their “brother Jacob,” but became like an enemy to them.
How does that happen? Why are we like that?
Again, you are what you worship. The psalms do a good job of expanding our perspective of worship and life with God. We find a constant concern for those in need. We aren’t forgotten, of course. But there’s more to worship than just me. A lot of us are too comfortable with using worship to get God on our side.