Are there any classical music lovers out there? I have loved classical music for a very long time and I have been reflecting on it a lot as of late in comparison with worship music. I recently read in Worship Leader Magazine that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote 7 new worship songs each week for his church’s services. He also used biblical study and a passion for theological grounding for the foundation of these songs. Now although Bach wrote many choral pieces some of his most popular pieces were written for instruments only and no vocals. This obviously means no lyrics. Just a little listen to his “Partita for Solo Violin No. 3 in E Major” is enough to make me giddy. It moves me to worship. Apparently famous composer Charles Gounod (well known for his operas “Faust” and “Romeo et Juliette”) was led to worship as well by Bach’s music. Gounod listened to Bach’s “Prelude 1 from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1” and ended up writing the melody and lyrics to what would become Ave Maria. The lyrics at one of the biggest moments of the song are:
“Maria mother of Jesus,
Born to save us from our sins and all our heavy woes
Gounod felt the very same sense of awe and worship from just Bach’s piano piece.
So how does this connect with today? How should christian songwriters incorporate this into their songwriting today? Don’t stop at just the lyrics. Make the music worshipful. Could I take the lyrics out of some of todays biggest worship songs and still have the same response from just the band playing the music on stage? If Hillsong United showed up at church on sunday morning and played “Tear Down the Walls” from their “Across the Earth” cd without singing a single lyric, I believe that the church would worship. The music is shouting along with the lyrics. The drummer, guitarist, bassist are all worshipping with their instruments and playing the parts that are saying
“Your name is Glorious! Glorious!
Your love is changing us, calling us
To worship in spirit and in truth,
As all creation returns to You!”
Ahhhhh. Thank you musicians. Thank you songwriters and producers who see the whole package. Thank you for acknowledging Psalm 150:
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.