Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Music Mission

To get myself into a music learning mode last night I pulled out some music I had on my shelf. One was a hymnbook, Tabernacle Hymns Number Three. This was an encouraging time.

I recognized several of the names of lyric writers and music composers. I was impressed with the number of high-caliber names among the lyric writers like Lance B. Latham and William R. Newell. I don't come across many Bible teachers writing songs today. Perhaps this was a feature of the times. Before everyone had a screen, homes often had pianos.

One particular song caught my attention. “What Will You Do With Jesus?”
Jesus is standing in Pilate's hall
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all:
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call!
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”


Jesus is standing on trial still,
You can be false to Him if you will,
You can be faithful thro' good or ill:
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”


Will you evade Him as Pilate tried?
Or will you choose Him, whate'er betide?
Vainly you struggles from Him to hide:
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”


Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny?
Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,
Daring for Jesus to live or die?
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”


“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today!
Jesus, I'll follow Thee all the way,
Glady obeying Thee! will you say:
“This will I do with Jesus!”

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”

I didn't know it, nor have I heard it before, but in case it wasn't already clear from the lyrics, from reading the music it's clear this is a forward-charging song with a mission. Would that our songs today issued such calls to action.

Church music today tends to be portrayed as a choice between dusty old hymns and contemporary music to match our times. Usually the hymns are played slow like a lullaby, and the contemporary songs are filled out with a full band.

Having grown up with Gospel music played in an evangelistic style, and then seeing where we are today, I find my experience with church music to be nearly the opposite. Hymns and Gospel songs were usually sung much faster and with more enthusiasm. I find many of the songs today, sung to God in the name of worship, to be slow and stifling. “Breathe” is a primary case in point.

Churches would do well to pick up the tempo, not just of whatever style they choose, but of the urgency in their message.

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