Shepherding the Saints in Song

Walter Brath has been a pastor on staff at Christ Redeemer Church since 2011 and has been a worship pastor since 1996.  Christ Redeemer is a TCT Network church in Woodbury, MN.  This post originally appeared on Brath’s blog.

Shepherding the Saints in Song – part 1

One of my roles as a worship pastor is to choose songs each week for the saints at Christ Redeemer Church (CRC) in Woodbury, MN to sing in worship.  This involves prayerfully considering songs that are in our “rotation” from Sunday to Sunday, as well as listening to new songs being written by others (and writing a few of my own).  I had the privilege of visiting a church in the area on a Sunday off and heard the song ‘Overcome’ by Jon Egan.  This is a song I have heard on the radio from time to time but have not taken the opportunity to consider for the CRC body.  The Holy Spirit used the song that morning to minister to me.  I was impacted by its focus – Jesus is worthy of all praise because he overcame sin and death…all authority and victory is his.  I noticed that the worship team that morning left out the bridge of the song.  I wasn’t able to recall it in the moment during worship but went home later that day to look it up.  The bridge says:

 

We will overcome

By the blood of the Lamb

And the word of our testimony

Everyone overcome

 

One of the dangers every composer feels is the danger of trying to say something in a small amount of space (as in poetry and songwriting) is being vague.  I don’t know the composer, Jon Egan, personally and I am not attacking his credibility as a worship leader or songwriter.  I do not believe he is wanting to suggest universal salvation by the phrase,Everyone overcome, but surely means that those for whom the Lamb shed his blood will overcome.  The potential problem is that when a congregation is singing a song, they don’t have a chance to think that critically.  The lyrics need to be more clear.  As pastors we need to make sure the songs we have our congregations sing are biblically clear.  Since this ambiguity happens on the ‘Bridge’ of the tune and not the ‘Chorus’, I believe the song is redeemable.  The church I visited that Sunday decided not to sing the ‘Bridge.’  Here is what I am going to do to make the meaning more clear for our people: I am going to start using the song but will change the phrase to, Your chosen ones will overcome. 

Paul says in Colossians 3:16,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

In subsequent posts I would like to take a look at this passage in light of the theme of shepherding the saints in song.

 

By Wally Brath

 

(Used with permission.)


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