Singing Praises and Prayers with Joy

Singing old songs

C.S. Lewis made a famous argument for the importance of reading classic books, those written in previous eras. Lewis argued that there are “dangers” in an “exclusive contemporary diet” because books have “hidden implications” that even the authors themselves are unaware of. Every age has its blind spots. But classic books have stood the test of time and reading them provides perspective on the “controversies of the moment.”

Lewis’ observations are profound. And I think they can equally be applied to today’s worship songs.

Consider his words:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. . . . None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. . . . Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.

Couldn’t the same be said about songs? A diet consisting almost entirely of modern music is deficient. But when we also sing music from previous eras we see marked differences in the theology, themes, and emphases. The predispositions of our own era’s lyrics are brought to light, and our personal theology and assumptions are challenged in the process. And that is a valuable thing.

Read Lewis’ essay, “On Reading Old Books,” here.

Beloved Hymns: Just as I Am

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”John 6:37 (ESV). 

Charlotte Elliott was an embittered woman. She suffered from poor health and a disability that had hardened her. She once said, “If God loves me, he would not have treated me this way”. In May 1822, a Swiss Minister named Dr. Cesar Malan, visited Charlotte in her home in Brighton, England. He had heard of her illnesses and had hoped to help her. Over dinner, Charlotte lost her temper and began railing against God and her family in a violent outburst. Her family, embarrassed by her actions, left the room and Dr. Malan was left alone with Charlotte.

As he sat observing her, he considered the best way to approach her. Finally, he said, “You are tired of yourself, aren’t you? You are holding on to your hate and anger because you have nothing else in the world to cling to. Consequently, you have become sour, bitter, and resentful.”

Stunned by his candor, Charlotte asked him, “What is your cure?”

The doctor simply said, “The faith you are trying to despise.”

As they talked, Charlotte’s heart began to soften, and she asked, “If I wanted to become a Christian and to share the peace and joy you possess, what would I do?”

“You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fighting and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”

“I would come to God just as I am. Is that right?” Charlotte did come just as she was, and her heart was changed that day. As time passed, she found and claimed John 6:37 as her special verse: “… he who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Years later, her brother, Rev. Henry Elliott, was raising funds for a school. Charlotte wrote a poem, and it was printed and sold across England. The leaflet said: Sold for the benefit of Saint Margaret’s Hall, Brighton: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no way cast out”.Underneath was Charlotte’s poem— which has since become the most famous invitational hymn in history!

Although she never enjoyed good health, Charlotte lived to be 82 years old and wrote about 150 hymns. After her death, her loved ones sifted through her papers, and they found over a thousand letters she had kept in which people expressed their gratitude for the way that this hymn had touched their lives.

Just as I am, without one plea,

 but that thy blood was shed for me,

and that thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!2

 Suggested Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your death on the cross that made it possible for me to come to you just as I am. You overlook my “ugliness” and accept me with all my human flaws. I am so grateful for your loving kindness and forgiveness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  • “Just as I Am” Hymn by Charlotte Elliot.

A Song of Gratitude


“… For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” Colossians 3:15-16 (NLT)

Music and song often express the deepest emotions of our hearts. Personally, my time of worship is one of the main elements in my relationship with God. During this time, I have written song lyrics, composed music, or I simply mediate on the words of so many amazing songs of worship to God. Worship songs help me express what my brain cannot put into words at the moment. This is especially true in moments of sadness or grief.

Whether you are alone or in the midst of fellow believers, God desires us to worship him. But what kind of song is pleasing to God? Does he prefer hymns, contemporary, with instruments, acapella…? Actually, these distinctions are not what matters to God. He wants to hear our hearts. He wants our expressions of praise to be humble and authentic.

Worship should not be about us, but rather express our gratitude for all that God has done for us in Christ. Our goal is to exalt the goodness, grace, and unconditional love of God with grateful hearts. Constantly proclaiming his faithfulness to us in every season.

  • from Faily Encounter

Lauren Daigle: How Can It Be

From the singer songwriter Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be.

You plead my cause, You right my wrongs
You break my chains, You overcome
You gave Your life to give me mine
You say that I am free, how can it be? Yes
How can it be?

Phil Wickham: Living Hope

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Jesus Christ, my living hope

The full words:  

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope

Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope

Oh, hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Oh, Jesus, Yours is the victory!

Why Singing Hymns the Traditional Way is Better than Singing the Pop Worship Way

Jonathan Aigner has some styrong opinions. Good to read and think through his ideas.

Hymns for Seasoned Citizens

The Old Rugged Face

Precious Lord, Take My Hand, And Help Me Up

It is Well With My Soul, But My Knees Hurt

Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seeing

Amazing Grace, Considering My Age

Just a Slower Walk With Thee

Count Your Many Birthdays, Name Them One by One

Go Tell It On The Mountain, But Speak Up

Give Me That Old Timers’ Religion

Blessed Insurance

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, I’ve Forgotten Where I Parked

Hymns of Hope and Comfort: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Hymns of Hope and Comfort: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Top 10 Best Easter Songs