Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Worship Theology - Rock of Ages

I am going to begin a new endeavor. I'm going to try to regularly post the lyrics of a song or hymn here in order to consider what we are singing week after week as God's people. I will endorse some songs and NOT endorse others. The whole point is to examine what we are singing and how it points us to Christ and reinforces good Biblical Theology!

I think as worshippers we far too rarely consider what we are singing more than weather or not we like the tune of the song or if we hear it on the radio.

I think as leaders we far too rarely consider what we are singing AND what we are teaching those who look to us for leadership... and how our songs fit (or sometimes don't) into a solid Biblical orthodox theology.

I'd love your interaction on the different songs and shoot me a message and let me know of songs you'd like to review on the blog!

So... that being said, we are going to start with the old hymn called "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" because as I opened my itunes and hit shuffle this morning a version of this song began to play and brought me to the edge of tears here at this bistro table with coffee cup in hand as I considered the weight of the words being sung.



Soli Deo Gloria.

~~~~~~~~
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Words: Agustus M. Toplady (1776)
Music: Toplady, Thomas Hastings, (1830)

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
[originally When my eye-strings break in death]
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

I think verse 2 is what stood out to me most as I listened to this hymn. "Not the labor of my hands can fulfill thy law's demands; Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone."

ALL THIS - my law-fulfilling labor, my un-yielding zeal, flowing tears - ALL THIS for sin could not atone. Thou must save, and Thou alone. That is my rock... Jesus. "Nothing in my hand I bring, naked to the cross I cling." Now... the image of naked Jake my be, at first, off-putting, BUT the reality that ALL I, or any of us, can do is cling to the cross and embrace the crucified one. And I bring nothing of my own to pay for his mercy but my sorry and broken self offered rightly to the one who created me and is my redemption!

How RICH!

Being pointed to the Gospel... that Jesus' finished and complete work on the cross saves us... is, in my opinion, the hallmark of a great song for worship. More than instrumentation, musicality, if it's "hip" or not... does it point to a clear Gospel? Does it have Gospel-intentionality?

Closing thought: Even the worst tune can be redeemed by Gospel-saturated lyrics.

2 comments:

Bri said...

Verse 2 stood out to me too. It's especially relevant to me, as I have grown up in a Catholic household. Nothing I could ever do could save. Sola gratia. Sola fide. Solus Christus.

I've actually never heard this song before. I'm going to have to check it out, as it's solid doctrinally.

Jake said...

Thanks Bri - I think the reality of Christ's necessity for us is what is most powerful for me...

It is an older hymn that could be updated I suppose... but the lyrics are spot on. There is a version by Sovereign Grace Music that is pretty good.