If we define all that we are before our great Caller and live our lives before one audience—the Audience of One—then we cannot define or decide our own achievements and our own success. It is not for us to say what we have accomplished. It is not for us to pronounce ourselves successful. It is not for us to spell out what our legacy has been. Indeed, it is not even for us to know. Only the Caller can say.
—Os Guinness, The Call
Pop song lyrics have been de facto the main poetry of the United States since the mid-1960s.
—John H. McWhorter, Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care, 83
Instead of merely scrutinizing hymns, students can be asked to sing them. To the extent that it forms in students and faculty alike a deeper capacity for wonder, a genuinely doxological ethos may be as important for a course on worship as any particular assignment.
—John D. Witvliet, “Teaching Worship as a Christian Practice,” in For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry, 147
For heights and depths no words can reach,
Music is the soul’s own speech.
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
If you worship money and things—if they are where you tap real meaning into life—then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough.
Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.
Worship power—you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay.
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart—you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
—James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, 22
If music is simply used to create a mood or to entertain, it can be manipulative (e.g. the excessive repetition of songs to intensify the emotions of those present). But when it is employed to highlight the meaning of words, music can plant biblical truth memorably and powerfully in our hearts. Music can help us to be involved in prayer and praise emotionally as well as intellectually. It can be a vehicle for expressing deep reflections and feelings.
—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together, 141
All too many free-church prayers and hymns have forsaken biblical imagery in favor of a host of frivolous, superficial, pop psychological jargon and cliches that chatter about “celebration,” “becoming human,” “finding ourselves,” “being free to be you and me,” and other amorphous trivialities. This is particularly tragic among those whose forebears once felt that the presence and guidance of Scripture in worship was something worth dying for.
—William H. Willimon, The Bible: A Sustaining Presence in Worship, 14