Godly Songs Are Not Repetitious and Are Full of Doctrine. Oh Really?

IMG_5766 hymnals_smw

A few weeks ago, I attended a local event hosted by a church, which was also attended by several pastors within their association. Have you ever heard Christians dis other churches for singing anything other than hymns? They say things like, “Godly music must be rich in doctrine,” or “Songs of worship should not be repetitious. That’s what’s wrong with today’s contemporary songs. They’re just fluff,” and they actually call the songs that other churches sing “ungodly”. I often wonder if they have ever read, studied or been helped by the book of Psalms.

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Psalm 136 is an example of a psalm that contains a lot of repetition:

An exhortation to give thanks to God for particular mercies

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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Is Psalm 136 ungodly and unsuitable for church worship because it is repetitious? If not, then why are contemporary songs rejected simply because they contain some repetition?

The song in the video below is the cry of a broken heart, a crushed spirit due to the loss of a child. The lyrics reveal the struggle of the heart to continue trusting in God— “To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays, is appalling.”

Wasn’t King David open and honest with the LORD? Can we not be as well, or is this song also unacceptable and ungodly?

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Psalm 6 is an example of a psalm that does not contain the kind of doctrine that the pontificators say godly songs should contain. It is a cry of the heart:

David’s complaint in his sickness

To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.

O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

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The same pontificators talk about how things are a matter of the heart, and yet deny the same when they reject songs that are cries of the heart to God. Which is it? Is it really a matter of the heart or a matter of musical taste?

 

If you liked this, you might also like… God Danced?

 

About Rene Yoshi

Just a transplanted Okinawan-French Southern girl with a wee bit o' Irish, sharing photography and what I'm learning about spiritual things, including putting off legalism and religious traditions, and embracing God's matchless love, tender mercy, and amazing grace! View all posts by Rene Yoshi

13 responses to “Godly Songs Are Not Repetitious and Are Full of Doctrine. Oh Really?

  • Randell Bell

    Well said Rene. Pastors who hold to the idea that godly songs should not be repetitious have obviously never read where the heavenly host that fly around God’s throne repeat Holy Holy Holy night and day now that is what I call repetition 🙂 – Rev.4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
    Isa.6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

  • Rene Yoshi

    Excellent point! Thank you, Randell! 😀

  • Karina Susanto

    Dear sister Rene..
    It is just my thought. .I thought book Psalm is a foothold or basis for thousands or even millions church songs and there are so many repetition in that songs. I saw you on your photo. There is a Celebration Hymnal book there. I have it too. And when I exploring its book. Almost lyrics of the songs based on Psalm. I am not trying to say that hymn songs it the best church music. But hymn songs has a soul and spirit of God as written in Psalm. Well once again it is just my thought 🙂 thank you for wonderful post, sis. Blessings.

    • Rene Yoshi

      I agree, Karina. The book of Psalm is a basis for many church songs both old and new. I love hymns, but I also appreciate the new worship songs, too. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Blessings. ((hugs))

  • Southern Sea Muse

    Excellent points, Rene! I once attended a church which dissed other churches’ worship formats/song choices for the same reasons you discussed. It was stifling and judgmental at best, and rendered me afraid to worship from the heart, for a long time. God’s Word provides everything we need to model our worship after, as you pointed out. And, vive la difference!

    • Rene Yoshi

      I am grateful that the church I attend has begun to allow some of the newer worship songs for special music and congregational worship. Those who dis other churches and think only hymns and Southern Gospel are the only true godly songs do tend to be stifling and judgmental in many areas of life. They are not necessarily bad people, but their zeal is sometimes misplaced and their doctrine unbalanced. Thank you, SSM! ((hugs))

  • Tienny The Storyteller

    Even I enjoy the new worship songs with certain kind of music

  • cspindler

    Rene, I read your blog this morning and then listened to the Word as I took my morning walk. One verse caused me to think of a modern song we sing (Chris Tomlin’s “His Love endures forever):

    All the Israelites were watching when the fire descended and the glory of the Lord came on the temple. They bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground. They worshiped and praised the Lord:
    For He is good,
    for His faithful love endures forever.- 2 Chronicles 7:3.

    I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that worship preferences change. However, as long as we worship in “spirit and in truth,” the place in which we worship or the songs by which we worship are just vehicles to express our praise and adoration to God.

    I appreciate your thoughtful

    • cspindler

      Sorry to trail of there…I appreciate your thoughtful response to the unfortunate “friendly fire” of variety in worship.

      • Rene Yoshi

        It is my hope to help Christians under bondage to be set free, as well as to spark thoughtful consideration, especially for those who follow the teachings of others and parrot it themselves without having given study to the subject. It has been my experience that people, both Christians and non-Christians, can become disillusioned by Christianity when they discover that what they are being taught has holes, or when things, such as grace, are taught and not really practiced.

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