By Pat Tharp
The debate over “modern” church songs and the “classic hymn” is nothing new. It seems with every generation in the church a new style or genre emerges. For some, new sounds, arrangements, and the artful poetic verbal imagery are welcomed as fresh and contemporary… for others there is a sense of loss for the “classics” which they are so familiar with. While the worship wars have for the most part ceased, we are still faced with music and lyrics that may be “different” than what we grew up with or are used to. This debate is nothing new; it goes all the way back to the late 1600’s.
Up until that time John Calvin had urged his followers to only sing “metrical psalms.” English Protestants followed the same advice. Each Psalm would have a certain number of syllables. This is how the church sang, only Psalms and only one way.
Then in 1674, a little boy was born… Isaac Watts. His father was an imprisoned Pastor because of his sympathies with the Nonconformists, and was later freed. Isaac learned Latin by age 4, Greek at age 9, French that he used to converse with his neighbors at age 11, and Hebrew at age 13. With an opportunity on scholarships to go to Oxford or Cambridge which would have led him to the Church of England, he chose rather to study at a Nonconformist academy.
Isaac was not very impressed with the songs that were sung in church at his time. His father told him that if he didn’t like it, to write his own music…and he did. The first hymn he penned as a teen was “Behold the Glories of the Lamb!” Isaac wanted to see more passion and modern connectiveness with those who were singing. He once said, "Where the flights of his faith and love are sublime, I have often sunk the expressions within the reach of an ordinary Christian." He wanted all people to be able to sing, not just the pious and educated of his time.Read more ...
By Lynn Metier
“ ‘…with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD, your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8b)
A dictionary definition of “compassion” is: “sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; pity”. The Hebrew root word translated as “compassion” or “compassionate” is “racham” (#7355 in “The New Strong’s Concordance”, 1995), and it means, “to fondle; by implication, to love”, and is also translated as “love”, “mercy”, and “pity”. One (#4697) of at least three Greek words used in the New Testament to express the same concept also has the idea of feeling sympathy, experiencing inward affection, and having tender mercy toward another.
When Moses asked to see the LORD’s glory, God responded, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:18,19) When He granted Moses’ request, He proclaimed, “ ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and faithfulness, showing mercy to thousands” (“of generations” is implied), “forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’ ” (Exodus 34:6-7). God’s compassion is inextricably linked to His goodness, mercy, and grace. Put another way, the very essence of God, His glory, is partially revealed through His compassion. If God were not compassionate, He might give us what we deserve. Instead, He has mercy on us. Also, He shows favor and bestows blessings because that is His intrinsic nature. Again and again the Scriptures reveal that God’s nature is compassionate, merciful, and gracious. Nehemiah 9:17,31; Psalms 86:15, 111:4b, 145:8,9; and Micah 7:18,19 are some Old Testament examples. Psalm 78:38, while specifically referring to God’s disposition toward rebellious Israel, also reveals His attitude toward us all: “But He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them.”
Thus, in the New Testament we find God’s ultimate expression of His compassion toward mankind unveiled in Jesus Christ. The very fact that He sent His Son to redeem us rather than annihilate us proves His mercy and love (John 3:16,17). The Scriptures record concerning Jesus: “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) “When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14) Again and again Jesus demonstrated God’s compassion upon those He met (Matthew 15:32-37, 20:29-34; Mark 1:40-42, 5:1-19; Luke 7:12-15). He also taught about God’s compassion (Luke 15:11-24), and He taught others to practice compassion (Luke 10:30-37; Matthew 18:23-33).Read more ...