Devotion and Declaration in our Church Music

I want to share some ideas about “theology” and song selection. My ideal is that our songs are balanced between declaration and devotion.

Devotion is our repentance, adoration, commitment, praise, exaltation of Him.

Declaration is teaching the facts of the Gospel. Who is God, and What has He done? “Great is thy Faithfulness” declares what He has done and is doing in terms of faithful provision. “You’re my friend and you are my brother, even though you are a King” is a great declaration line.

When you think of Declaration it is also helpful to think of a balance of Law and Gospel. Law – evoking conviction of sin. There are great newer songs, but my mind goes to my favorites like “Crown Him with Many Crowns” – “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” – “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” – “I Stand Amazed in the Presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” Declaration songs give clear Gospel teaching about God and salvation.

We have a unique mix of people in ZGC. A significant number of them are not believers, others are from weak, traditional, churches. We need to teach the Gospel in worship and in word. If we tilt to Devotion without sufficient Declaration we convey a mushy, sentimental, vague view of God. We cannot expect that our congregation knows the simple core facts of the Gospel about who is God and what He has done. Hymns and songs that declare this convey those truths powerfully and memorably. Then, having really met Him and known Him, He deserves and demands our devotion.

Let us strive to make our worship God-centered and God-exalting. May our songs review and rejoice in the great things God has done and is doing on our behalf. Worship songs are as important, some would say more important, for teaching good theology to the church as the sermon. Scripture is the best source book for worship, so make sure your songs are Biblically faithful.

Song sets should have a balance of declaration and devotion. We need to declare Gospel facts about who God is and what He has done. Songs should help believers know God and His salvation better. They should employ the full range of Scriptural images, truths, and descriptions of God’s grace. We also need to express our devotion to God in song. We love Him, honor Him, praise Him, and thank Him. Be careful that people don’t mistake our holy love for God as romantic or erotic. Our love songs are different from the love songs of this world. The balance of declaration and devotion insures we know who is the One we love, and we give Him our heads and hearts in loving worship.