Thank you for your review of Sacred Songs of the Church. Some of your comments really got me to thinking about the songs we sing in our worship services. I love God with all my heart and pray that I am doing what He commands. Maybe you can help me understand this a little better, since you have a better knowledge of these songs and their writers than I do.
My question is: How can we know that the songs we are using to worship and praise our Heavenly Father are acceptable to Him?
I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much for your time.
I've fowarded your question on to brother Walker and hope that he'll have time to respond. Meanwhile, I would like to address your question as well.
We could broaden your question. How do we know that are prayers are acceptable to God? After all, we aren't given prayers to say, only a few examples of other people's prayers and some guidelines on what makes a good prayer. While we don't have the tunes, but we do have the words for a number of songs in the Bible.
When Paul told us, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17), it is the phrase "do all in the name of the Lord" that governs the contents of our songs. First and foremost songs must be in accordance with the Lord's authority. They have to be accurate to the teachings of God found in our Bibles.
Second, songs have a purpose. They are to teach and admonish while at the same time directing the hearts of the singers to the Lord. Entertain is not in the criteria for songs that we sing.
Third, the types of songs are psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. A proper song of worship can be based on one of the poems in the Bible (a psalm), it can be a song based on the text of the Bible (a hymn), or it can teach spiritual principles found in the Bible (a spiritual song).
Fourth, the medium in which the songs are delivered is by the voice. We sing songs, not play music. And such makes sense given the other criteria. Songs are about the words, not the music. Music helps emphasize the words, sets the tone, and helps our memory, but it is the words being delivered that is the focus of what we sing.
Therefore, the determinant of whether a song is acceptable to God is whether it expresses what God requested. That is done by comparing what a song teaches to what the Scriptures teach. But even an accurate song can be delivered in an unacceptable way. Too many song leaders give little to no thought about what they are teaching at a service. Many congregations give little thought about what they are saying, making the words merely the sounds which accompany the music instead of the other way around. Without our hearts accompanying what we are doing, I have a hard time seeing that as pleasing to the Lord, given what God has said in the past.
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24).