It is a hazardous thing to criticize a worship song. The songs we sing in church are dear to us—sacred even. Their potency comes from the fact that, over time, the songs become a part of us. Like eating and drinking, the rhythms and rhymes of these songs have a way of seeping deep into our marrow.
So it is with a bit of trepidation that I criticize the much-beloved hymn below.
Liturgophiles Gone Wild
Many of us who love and appreciate the Church’s rich liturgical tradition feel this way because of how it has affected us, especially over time. For us, the liturgy is deeply understood and deeply felt. But this is not the case a large majority of Christians. Despite the resurgence of interest in overtly liturgical worship (I use “overtly” because, as many have pointed out, all worship has a liturgy), the growth of the Church in the global South has been largely of the Pentecostal and charismatic variety.
I often don’t know what to pray for when thinking of the Middle East. The prayer “peace for the Middle East” though melodic doesn’t seem to cut it. How do we pray when we hear of the horrors of those who call themselves the Islamic State? How do we pray when we hear of abductions, beheadings, bombings, and destruction? How ought we to pray?
Remembrance: An Incomplete Truth
Every year, I ask my college and seminary students to tell me how they think 8 and 9 year olds in their congregation would summarize the point of the Lords’ Supper in a sentence. Invariably, the vast, vast majority say “the Supper is about remembering Jesus’ death.”