I listened to song after song, music project after music project and I could only find a couple of worship songs. Even albums called “worship projects” from our top “worship” leaders from around the country, I could only find at best two or three worship songs on their albums. I had begun the task of removing songs that were not worship songs from the list we sung to open our Sunday services. After removing the majority of the songs we use to sing, I was left with a short list. And was now disheartened as it became difficult to find more songs.
This experience took place several years ago following a conversation I had with the Lord. I had begun to notice while playing the organ during our morning worship, I would feel God’s presence on certain songs but not on others. I asked the Lord why this was the case and He explained to me that He responds to worship songs. I thought all the songs we were singing were worship songs, but this statement from the Lord caused me to realize I did not know what a worship song was.
I sought the Lord for an explanation and after asking for several months the Lord began to speak. The first thing the Lord explained was worship songs are songs ONLY about HIM, His character and His nature. This did not bring clarity as I thought all Christian/Gospel songs were about Him. So He further explained we are the main subject of most of the songs we sing, not Him. We have been singing songs about ourselves to Him and calling it worship.
If I said to you, “my wife is the most important person in the world to me,” I am the subject of that statement. My wife is a secondary character but this statement reveals how I see and feel about my wife. But you don’t know anything about my wife. That statement reveals nothing about my wife’s nature or character because the statement is about me. So when we say things like, “I love the Lord,” that statement is about us, who we love and how you feel about Him, but it’s not worship. Even a song about how I want more of Jesus is really a song about me and what I want.
I heard from a well known musician that worship songs were slow songs and praise songs were up tempo. However, the categorization of a song is not based on the songs tempo, rhythm, or even musical genre. With christian or gospel music, it is the content or lyrics that determines the type of song it is. Did you know God does not view songs by genre the way we do? I will explain how God categorizes songs in a moment.
As I went through countless worship songs I began to realize that all the songs were about us and what the Lord has done for us, or who we are because of Him. None of these were worship songs. They did not talk about who He is and describe His nature or character. Even though the Lord is mentioned in all of these songs, He is in essence a supporting character. Songs about how I love Him, He’s my desire, I’m thirsty for Him, I want more of Him, etc etc are songs about us. These songs explains our wishes, our desires, our feelings.
A worship songs talks about the Lord with Him being the main subject or character of the song. True worship songs declare the Lord’s nature and character. He is Good, Righteous, Holy, Love, Magnificent, a Healer, Almighty, The Most High, etc. Statements such as these declare His nature regardless of our experience with Him. And our experiences and testimonies about the Lord honestly does not come close to an accurate view of His true character. God’s character is not based on man’s opinion or experience.
So how does God categorizes songs? Songs are sermons or messages put to music. Ministers preach on all types of topics. The sermon may point to Jesus but the message may be about healing, forgiveness, maturing, grace, faith, etc. When it comes to music songs are categorized this way as well, by the content. When I talk about how great He is to me, He’s my deliverer, He’s my way maker, etc. etc, all of these types of songs are testimonial. These songs reveal my experience with Him and my feelings towards Him. Songs where we “give Him our will,” our desires, we want to be more like Him, these are songs of commitment, comital or submission. As I went through the words of our worship songs I found songs of submission, testimony, victory, strength, deliverance, grace, healing, long-suffering, joy, peace, the blood and that list goes on. All of these songs are needed and are important especially if we are to have a balanced walk with the Lord, but they are not worship. Worship songs declare how majestic He is, how great, how good, how none can compare to Him, He is the way maker, He is the healer, He is the King of Kings, and that list continues. Go back to your favorite song and identify what type of song it is. And when you are worshiping the Lord, make sure the song you are singing lines up with the sacrifice you are making to Him.