To get this whole paradigm, make sure you read the first post, entitled “There’s No Such Thing As Worship Songs.”
The main comment that I’ve received on this paradigm is “If there’s no such thing as worship songs, what about all these categories for songs that we have?” Really good.I think these are types of prayers or types of exhortations.
Paul’s categories of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” refer to different compositional origins of songs rather than comprehensive delineations of Christian worship. (See Ralph Martin, “Worship In The Early Church” Eerdmans, pgs. 39-52)
Let’s just brainstorm a minute about different categories of songs:
- Thanksgiving songs,
- adoration songs,
- celebration songs,
- repentance and confession songs,
- petition songs,
. . . all of these are prayers. Hey — be encouraged — your prayer life is probably better than you think. Make sure sung prayers are included in your regular practice.
Exhortations are usually referred to in songs that are:
Let me just write for a quick second about how this applies to the prepared/spontaneous debate. Since worship songs directed to God are actually sung prayers,
- every church that believes in spontaneous prayer (heart-felt prayers composed in the moment) should not be afraid of spontaneous songs. However, spontaneous songs must be subjected to the same criteria that spontaneous prayers must uphold: doctrinal accuracy, thematic clarity, and timeliness.
- churches that employ prepared songs (song that were written out ahead of time) should not be afraid of prepared prayers. However, prepared prayers must be heart-felt and delivered passionately, just as prepared songs should be as well.
NEXT – what does this mean for worship leaders?!?