by Pastor W. J. Mencarow
“We don’t sing the Psalms in our church because they don’t mention Christ.”
That’s probably the #1 objection to singing the Psalms in worship. Setting aside the fact that the Psalms do (to put it mildly) “mention” Christ — after all, they are largely about Him, which is no wonder since He wrote them — that they prophesy His ministry, suffering on the cross, resurrection and rule over all creation — the fact is that the Psalms do not contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Those words are not found in any of the 150 Psalms.
If the standard that governs what we are to sing in worship is only songs that use the words “Jesus” or “Christ” — and please tell me where in the Bible we find that commanded — then we ought to take a close look at popular hymns with that standard in mind. How many of them include the words “Jesus” and/or “Christ”? I went to http://www.hymnlyrics.org/ and clicked on “Popular Hymns” and read all the lyrics. I also read all the lyrics to “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” at http://www.popularhymns.com/ And I read the lyrics to all the hymns at http://www.hymnlyric.com.
I was amazed at what I found. Or more accurately, what I didn’t find.
Now, I have no idea how many human-composed hymns there are. It is said that Fanny Crosby alone wrote about 8,000. Thus the list below could be expanded exponentially.
What strikes me is how many old standards don’t use “Jesus” or “Christ”; beloved hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “Blest Be The Tie That Binds,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” “Faith Of Our Fathers,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” — just to name a few.
I found that about a third — 32 to be exact — of “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” don’t mention the Name “Jesus” or “Christ.”
(And my sense, without counting, is that MOST of the modern “praise songs” do not use the Names. )
Popular hymns often use “God,” or “Spirit,” or “Master” or “He,” sometimes “Savior.” Many of them could be sung in a Jewish synagogue, a unitarian assembly or even a night club. Some could be also used in pagan rituals (other than unitarian); I’m thinking of the ones that sing praises to the “Spirit” and “He,” “Him” and the “Master” or even “Savior.” Cults use words like that to make Christians believe that they are worshipping the Christ of the Bible.
Some hymns, like “Was It For Me?,” appear to go out of their way NOT to use His Name (http://www.hymnlyric.com/was-it-for-me-lyrics/) “Walk Thou With Me” (http://www.hymnlyric.com/walk-thou-with-me-lyrics/) is another; even “Were You There?” http://www.hymnlyric.com/were-you-there-lyrics/)
Some of the following hymns may not be familiar to you (or to me); others are VERY familiar. Some of the lyrics could easily be secular songs without any changes. Here are a few examples:
After reading the lyrics to several hundred hymns I am frankly amazed at how many don’t have the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Many, possibly most, of the ones that do, only do it once. I expected to find some that don’t mention His Name, but I never expected to find so many.
And so many popular hymns are just insipid, shallow and silly — when they are not blasphemous (i.e., “May God Depend On You?” and “We All Can Do Good”). Many are clearly deist.
I wouldn’t be able to sing some of them without bursting out laughing, such as my favorite so far — are you ready? — “Drop Kick Me, Jesus”:
“Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life;
End over end neither left nor to right;
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights;
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.”
Just so you know I am not making that up:
Please tell me that there are no churches that sing that.
Here is my starter list of the most popular hymns sung in churches (and some “praise songs”) that do not contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Again, I think you’ll be surprised, as I was, at some of the familiar titles.
Does your church expect you to sing any of these?
A Call To Prayer
All Creatures Of Our God And King (which includes “Dear mother earth, who day by day, Unfoldest blessings on our way”) MOTHER EARTH??!!!
Ancient Of Days
All That I Am
Abide With Me
Be Not Afraid
Be Still And Know That I Am God
Be Thou My Vision
Believe And Obey
Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Breathe Upon Us
Calling For You
Children Of the Lord
Cleanse Me Clear As Crystal
Count Your Blessings
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Day By Day Decision
Dwelling In Beulah Land
Faith Of Our Fathers
Father Of Heaven
Faith Is The Victory
Gates Of The Beautiful
Give Me Joy In My Heart
Give Me Oil In My Lamp
Give Me the Wings Of Faith
God Is So Good (but the lyrics are so bad: http://www.hymnlyrics.org/mostpopularhymns/god_is_so_good.php )
God Leads His Dear Children Along
God Will Take Care Of You
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
Hand And Hand
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
He Has Promised
Here I Am, Lord
Here Is Love
Holy, Holy, Holy
I Am Thine, O Lord
I Need Thee Every Hour
I’ll Fly Away (among the silliest ones — the version by The Fifth Dimension is much better)
I Need Thee Every Hour
I Never Knew You (truer words were never written)
In The Garden
In The Sweet By And By
Just As I Am
King Of The City
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
Leave It There
Lord Of My Life
Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
May God Depend On You?
Morning Has Broken
My Faith Looks Up To Thee
Nearer My God To Thee
Now Thank We All Our God
O Fly To Him
O Light Of Life
O Worship The King
Old Time Power
Old Time Religion
On Let Us Go
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Power For Service
Prayer Is The Key
Praise Our Creator
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Quiet Lord My Froward Heart
Rest At Home
Rock Of Ages
Sailing Into Port
Shall We Gather At The River
Seek Ye First
Take My Life And Let It Be
There Is A Fountain (Filled With Blood)
Thou Are The Way
Till The Storm Passes By
Tried And True
Under His Wings
Up In Heaven
Up And Onward
Walk With Me
Was It For Me?
We All Can Do Good (not based on Rom. 3:12)
We Are Nearing
Welcome For Me
Were You There?
Zion’s King Shall Reign
Victorious Zion Founded On The Mountain
And even tho they don’t belong in the above list, a few deserve special mention:
“Life’s Railway To Heaven”: http://www.hymnlyric.com/lifes-railway-to-heaven-lyrics/
And I don’t know what to think of “Hand Of The Almighty.” Is this sung in churches???!!!
(WARNING: Very offensive language.)
So, if you object to singing the Psalms in worship because they don’t use the words “Jesus” or “Christ,” then you’d better not sing any of the above hymns.
On the other hand, if you recognize that the Psalms were written by the Triune God and given to His church, and He commanded His people to sing them in worship; that He has never given other songs for worship; that He has never changed His commandment; that he has never commanded that uninspired men write songs for worship — or for that matter, women — (many churches that would not permit a woman to teach men allow women to teach men through songs); that the church (Old Testament and New) always sang the Psalms and nothing else for centuries; if you clearly see Christ in the Psalms, and realize that if you don’t that is your failing, and that you need to pray and study more; if you admit that your preference for singing the hymns and praise songs you like to sing with music that appeals to you is saying that first and foremost worship should appeal to your senses, it should be what you enjoy, and what God commands and is pleased with is secondary…
If you recognize all this, then you are following the old paths. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” — Jer. 6:16