Through the month of February, we are going to be looking at some of the most beloved songs of faith. The Lord has given us a large treasure trove of rich, meaningful songs that have sharpened generations in their Christian walk.
Worship in the Bible
The Apostle Paul admonished the church at Ephesus in their worship:
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-20
And also to the church at Colossi:
“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.” – Colossians 3:16
Singing Songs of Praise to God
Singing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, making music to the Lord in our hearts, in so doing, we teach and admonish each other. That is the command here. A psalm merely is just singing songs of praise to God. A hymn is not a song in the hymnal; rather, it is a declaration of faith or creed that gives glory to God. A spiritual song consists of a new, spirit-led song; a song of worship; or a song of intimate express between you and the Lord.
One such spiritual song was written by Issac Watts When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, published in the songbook Hymns and Spiritual Songs in 1707. Watts diverted from the usual writing style of hymns that was standard for his day, which was to sing paraphrased scripture. Watts expressed his meditation of Christ’s passion on the cross and the significance of the price Jesus paid.
When seeing such an expression of love, it only moves us to respond in some way. Watts expressed in the first stanza:
“When I survey the wond’rous cross, on which the Prince of Glory dy’d,
My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.”
Not only do these words give adoration to God for the sacrifice of His Son, but also express our spirit’s desire to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). If you and I were there on Golgotha’s hill that day, seeing Jesus on that cross and the suffering He went through, would our expression be any different? Would we not see all of our gains as truly nothing? Would we not also lay down our pride as contemptible before His selfless act of love?
Standing The Test of Time
The beauty about this song is not in its age or that it has stood the test of time being sung for generations. No, it’s true beauty is how the Lord used Watts to pen words that resonate in the heart of every believer as we survey the cross of Christ. Rarely do we take enough time in our corporate worship times to honestly sit and think about what we are singing. It is a shame, really. Corporate worship is not about the music itself. It is about what we express from our hearts to the Lord together. Words of this hymn and spiritual song and so many others help to unite our hearts in worship and lift our praises to God. Not only do we receive strength from each other, but also God Himself gives us what no one else can provide -His Presence!
As you come into a worship service, do not worry about the music style but focus on the words that express praise and worship to the Lord. Let those words ring in your heart and it will be much easier to lift your voice in song.
When I Survey the Cross
When I survey the wond’rous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory dy’d,
My richest Gain I count but Loss,
And pour Contempt on all my Pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the Death of Christ my God:
All the vain Things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his Blood.
See from his Head, his Hands, his Feet,
Sorrow and Love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such Love and Sorrow meet?
Or Thorns compose so rich a Crown?
His dying Crimson, like a Robe,
Spreads o’er his Body on the Tree;
Then am I dead to all the Globe,
And all the Globe is dead to me.
Were the whole Realm of Nature mine,
That were a Present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my Soul, my Life, my All.