I have been reading a serious of articles by Bob Kauflin, written for Crosswalk.com. I don't agree entirely, and I think he is primarily focused on younger people, those who like so-called "praise" songs, and don't like hymns, so if you do not understand that camp, you might not get as much out of the talks.
I also purchased a cd somewhat recently by Indelible Grace, and have liked a number of their songs. The lead singer, Matthew Smith is releasing a new cd shortly, and there is an interview on his web page.It is a little hard to tell what he thinks about emotions in worship. I would have liked him to say something like, "I used to think it was important to be all caught up in emotions, but now I have realized that who God is, his deserved honor and glory, and our correct doctrinal thinking is what is important, and not my feelings of him." I think Matthew has changed his thinking since high school, but I am not entirely sure from this interview how much.

As lead singer of the Indelible Grace band, and a key participant in the Indelible Grace albums, Matthew Smith has been a part of the new hymns movement, which joins old hymns with new music and is impacting worship worldwide. Now with the release of his first solo recording, Even When My Heart Is Breaking, Matthew continues pursuing his passion of seeing more people see the beauty of the Gospel of grace through hymns. We spoke to Matthew about how he got started, his new CD, and his plans for the future.

Tell me a little bit about how you got started singing hymns.

I used to lead worship some in high school for my youth group, but always felt inadequate as a worshipper. I never seemed to be able to stir up the kind of emotions in myself that I saw in others, or that I imagined should accompany worship through song.

After I graduated, I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University and study music business. I soon started attending a weekly Bible study (Reformed University Fellowship) where I was introduced to hymns with new music like "And Can It Be," "Arise My Soul Arise," and "Thou Lovely Source Of True Delight." I had never heard anything like these hymns, and the teaching that went along with them was revolutionary. I realized one day that I was worshipping the way I had always wanted to-my mind was engaged and I was emotionally connecting to the truth I was singing.

What made the difference?

The praise songs that I sang in high school mainly spoke about what I wanted to do: how I wanted to worship God, how I wanted to be renewed, et cetera. While those things were true, singing my desires didn't produce any kind of worship in my heart. In fact, it made me feel miserable. I felt like a failure. Singing about how I wanted to worship God was a kind of half-lie. In other words, I felt obligated to give God glory, because mentally I knew he deserved it, but it never sprung from being overwhelmed at who God is or what He has done. In the same way, I wanted to be renewed but wasn't being renewed, which led me to believe that I wasn't doing things right. It was a mess.

So, are you anti-praise songs now?

Not at all. But I do think that worship leaders should be discerning about what songs they choose, and sensitive to the realities of their congregations. Are the songs that you sing honest? If a hurt or discouraged person walks into your worship service, will they be met where they are in the songs, or are they being presented with a "cheer up and praise God, things aren't so bad" attitude? What encourages me about so many of the hymns is that they meet us where we are and gently guide us in the truth. Anne Steele did this particularly well, in that she wrote Psalm-like hymns of lament which cry out to God in the midst of hard circumstances, but never tries to minimize the reality of pain and a broken world.
Posted by Jon Daley on September 21, 2004, 3:50 am | Read 2972 times
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"I used to think it was important to be all caught up in emotions, but now I have realized that who God is, his deserved honor and glory, and our correct doctrinal thinking is what is important, and not my feelings of him." Hmm. Well, I wouldn't quite say it that way (and maybe that's why I didn't say it that way). Getting caught up in emotions is not primary (or secondary, for that matter) in worship: giving God glory for who He is should be the focus. However, I do not divorce correct doctrinal thinking from our emotional response. Seeing God for who He is and seeing ourselves for who we are quite often is accompanied by strong emotions, but they are gifts from God, not something that we can somehow stir up within ourselves (which is what I believed in high school). The prophet Isaiah is a great example of someone who encounters God and has a strong emotional response: "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5). Our worship of God should provoke emotional responses in people: mourning over sin, rejoicing over God's goodness, etc. If our hearts are hard, we respond with the emotion of apathy. I hope this clarifies my position, and thanks for reading my interview.
Posted by Matthew on September 25, 2004, 10:59 pm

Yeah, that clarifies things. Yes, I agree about unemotional worship would result from a hard heart. And that emotions are a gift from God.
I guess why I was going against emotions was the typical high school/college group where emotions are held up as more important than giving God the glory. Also songs that people sometimes sing are not what they really mean at the time.
I think there is a place for singing spiritual truths, even if you don't particularly feel like it, but I think too often we sing things about what we desire, or how we are feeling, when we aren't feeling that way at all.
Now, there might be something to singing about something that you should feel, and perhaps by saying/singing it yourself might correct your thinking and feeling, but I am not as sure about that.

By the way, I now have all three Indelible Grace cds, and they are great!
Posted by jondaley on October 4, 2004, 5:24 pm

They will be in Pennsylvania shortly, I am thinking about getting a bunch of people together to go see/hear them. I wonder how loud their concerts are; if Heather and I find church to be too loud, it is quite possible that the concert would be louder. Someday, people will learn that 85dB (the current target level for our church) causes hearing loss over time.
A couple kids in our church were remarking a while ago about how they can't hear as well as their friends who don't go to our church...
Posted by jondaley on October 4, 2004, 5:24 pm
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